Nobody has seen a higher quality of pitchers - or broken more bats - than A1. - USA TODAY Sports
Using Baseball Reference and their spring training metric of Quality of Opposition, a look at how some Royals are taking advantage of their playing time in Arizona.
Baseball Reference has set up a cool algorithm where they measure a player's "Opposition Quality." It's a way to quantify the quality of opposing hitters or pitchers players face during spring training. On a scale of one to ten, with ten being a major league regular.
We're 12 games into the Cactus League (undefeated!) but we all know we can't trust spring training statistics. Yet the BR metric is interesting, if only to get a picture of which hitters are ahead of the pitching and to see how management is utilizing their expanded roster.
Here are some Royals of note:
Mike Moustakas - OppQual 9.0
Moose is 12 for 22 in his first nine games with five extra base hits. He has been making contact, striking out just twice. Alas, it goes both ways - he has yet to collect a walk.
Jeff Francoeur - OppQual 9.1
My new favorite ballplayer is hitting .263/.300/.474 against some pretty decent competition. He's striking out in 20 percent of his plate appearances and somehow has drawn a walk. Sadly, I haven't seen any of his plate appearances this spring, but some of the reports from Gameday are gloriously Francoeur. A three pitch strikeout where he doesn't swing at a pitch. A three pitch strikeout where he swings at all three. And just about everything in between.
It figures that the pair battling out for second base duty have nearly identical measures of opposition quality. To me, that says Ned Yost is giving both players an equal opportunity to impress. And through Tuesday, the only thing separating the two at the plate is a Getz bomb. Of course.
Alex Gordon - OppQual 9.2
The highest quality of opposition score among Royal hitters. Batting leadoff in the spring and you're guaranteed to see more major league quality arms. Obviously, some of those pitchers will be out there working on various things, so take the performance with a grain of salt. Just know that he was hitting .471/.500/.647 through Tuesday. So that doesn't take into account his epic Grand Slam performance on Wednesday.
Brandon Wood - OppQual 7.8
Two home runs in mop up duty.
Miguel Tejada - OppQual 8.1
Dutton thinks Tejada has to play himself off the roster. If that's truly the case, the Royals are certainly easing him into action.
As I'm sure you know, it's difficult for me to root against a Royal, but in this case I'll make an exception. A horrible spring (and WBC) for Tejada would save the Royals from themselves. At least that's my hope.
Aaron Crow - OppQual 6.6
Crow has struck out three of the seven batters he's faced.
The fifth starter... Each has appeared in two games, making one start. While I really don't see this as a competition - I think the fifth starter will be Hochevar - the Royals are making this a fair spring training fight.
Yordano Ventura - OppQual 9.6
The highest rate among all Royal pitchers. Interesting because the Royals have hopes he can contribute at the major league level this year. They are intent on exposing him to some difficult bats this spring. So far he's whiffed just three of the 20 batters he's faced and has had some good fortune with the balls put in play being hit at his fielders - just four hits in 17 balls put in play.
What does all this tell us? Like all spring stats, not much. But it's an interesting way to look at spring training.