The Royals are nothing if not unpredictably predictable this season. We're on pace to close to the amount of wins that the majority of the community predicted, but we don't do this without a ridiculous sense of style. We win seven, lose seven. We win 17 out of 21, then lose series to two of the worst teams in baseball. If the Royals were a movie, they'd be the blockbuster that's equal parts awesome and frustrating, and how you feel about the team is almost entirely based on how good the popcorn is.
The last week or so has been another good couple scenes in the movie that is the Royals season (except for that one game where we left Chris Perez off the hook which I never want to talk about again), culminating with today's emphatic win against the Tribe, punctuated by Will Smith punching an alien in the face.
And yes, Dayton Moore is probably Michael Bay, not Roland Emmerich. But I digress, onto the Royals Position Players Ups and Downs for the last couple weeks:
Alex Gordon - LF -
Alex has picked it up since last I wrote on the hitters, culminating in today's leadoff homer, his 18th dinger of the season, against the Injuns. Even in a down year, he's been worth 3.2 WAR, which is pretty sweet even if it's well below the heights he's reached in the past two seasons. While Gordon's walk rate continues to come in lower than ever before, his Isolated Power is exactly the same as last year.
Emilio Bonifacio - 2B -
It is really, really dangerous to get sucked into Bonifacio's speed game on a day where he gets a couple and think, "well we could do worse for a placeholder 2B," so here's hoping that's not what's happening with the Royals FO right now. Yes, we have done worse. No, the Royals shouldn't settle on Bonifacio's "production" at second, especially if Frank's going to insist on batting him second. Bonifacio has two things in common with Alex Gordon: he's working on a career low walk rate this year, and he's a good baserunner. He's still the guy who's a career .260/.320/.340 hitter with negative defensive value. He's the prototypical example of a speed guy who's not actually good in the field.
That all said, he had a nice couple weeks. Certainly better than anything Chris Getz has done recently.
Eric Hosmer - 1B -
Saint Eric's plate approach and swing appear to be completely fixed, as his slugging cracked .450 while his walk rate spiked to almost 8%. Pretty impressive after his miserable start. To expand on my comment two weeks ago, he's also grading out as average in most fielding metrics, which is a good sign considering none of the nerdy fielding numbers really liked him in his first two seasons. You would like to see him turn up the power a little more now, but there's still room for growth in that department for someone who's yet to turn 24.
Billy Butler - DH -
His hitting is almost exactly the same as two weeks ago, so thumbs sideways it is. His 5-for-5, all singles game against the Mariners was a fun to watch. Also, he somehow has positive fielding value on the year. Go, Billy Ray!
Salvador Perez - C -
All the way up to a .318 OBP, which is probably close to the best possible result for Salvy Bench. Thanks to the low standards for hitting for a catchers, and his solid defense, Fangraphs still has him at 2.8 WAR. His BABIP has normalized as well, so this is about what you can expect from Perez going forward, as long as his approach doesn't dip into Miguel Olivo territory.
Also, I'm used so to referring to him as #SalvyBench (thanks to Matt Klaassen) that I just searched for his name under "B" on the Royals official site. Ye gawds.
Justin Maxwell - OF -
A lot of the time people use the phrase "catching lightning in a bottle." Very rarely to people go on to note that it very rarely stays in the bottle for very long.
George Kottaras - C -
Didn't have a good couple weeks (when he actually played), but had a key nail-biter of a walk the other night during the rally against Cleveland. If Kottaras retires anytime soon, I speculate that he wouldn't be the worst choice for hitting coach.
Lorenzo Cain - CF -
3-for-12 with a walk since his return from the DL. That's basically how he's hit all season!
Jamey Carroll - IF -
I guess starting him today's "big game" means that I need to acknowledge his presence on the roster. This is what's left of Jamey Carroll, folks. In his heyday, he was a good utility man/part-timer who had no power but could sometimes hit for a decent average and take a walk. He'll still take a walk if you can't throw him strikes for some reason, but that's pretty much the extent of his abilities. He parlayed these abilities, and the fact that he can play several positions, into 500 PAs as recently as last year. And now he's a Royal, and he's probably near the end of the road, as most old dudes with 500 OPSes don't last much longer.
Starting him was better than starting one of the prospects from the "Best Farm System Ever" today. Ouch.
Alcides Escobar - SS -
The only thing holding Escobar's season together is his improved work with the glove and him continuing to be a great baserunner, as he's been worth 10.5 FRAA and 6.6 BsR, as per Fangraphs. His OBP is a miserable .261 overall, and it's to the point where even his numbers against southpaws have cratered (.268 OBP). And people wonder why utility guys such as Carroll hold onto jobs for so long.
David Lough - RF -
Lough's miniscule walk rate has really come back to bite him, as there's only a 22 point difference between his BA and OBP. Now that the book's out on Lough, it's hard to tell if he might carve out an Aviles-in-the-outfield type career, or just disappear. Either way, as an 11th round draft pick from 2007, he probably beat the odds just by getting here. And by outproducing the opening day starter (cough).
Jarrod Dyson - OF -
Probably one of the quietest 2+ WAR seasons you'll ever see, Dyson really should be considered for a role bigger than "Jeff Francoeur's legs" next season. His FRAA is almost as good as Escobar's, and he's played in less than half of the games. That might be fluky high, but a reasonable amount of regression would still leave him as an above average fielder.
Chris Getz - 2B-
In his last five appearances, he's been allowed to hit once. This neats encapsulates Chris Getz's ability to play baseball.
Johnny Giavotella - 2B -
It really wouldn't surprise me if Giavotella popped up with another organization someday, hit the snot out of the ball for a little while, and then disappeared a couple of season later - sort of like a 2B version of Cal Pickering. It sure doesn't look like his breakthrough, if he has one in him (and that is a big if, make no mistake), will occur here.
Mike Moustakas - 3B -
Walkoff home runs this late in the season, in the midst of the wild card race, get you up arrows, even if you're Mike Moustakas.
Carlos Pena - 1B -
Yeah, he's washed up. It's not really his fault that Yost pinch hit him in a situation that called for making contact. That's never been Pena's game, and it's not about to become it. Boom, Yosted.
Your one burning question, folks:
Do the Royals make the play-in game?
Right now, despite the recent winning, the playoff odds still have us pretty clearly on the outside looking in.