Well, that was a fun All-Star Game. The AL won
as usual, Salvador Perez got to play, Greg Holland got to be his usual self. The game wasn't a blowout, and the Royals have home field advantage for the World Series when they win 17 out of 21 in the second half three times in a row. I don't know about you, but I think that's a pretty satisfying result.
Oh, and Adam Wainwright grooved a pitcher for Derek Jeter? How many gifts does that guy get this year? And wait, a St. Louis player did something wrong? No wait, he took it back? Nevermind. Sorry for mentioning He Who Shall Not Be Named and a Cardinal in the same sentence. Here are your Position Player Ups and Downs for the week.
Lorenzo Cain - CF -
Cain might have had a few bad PAs in key situations recently, but he's still coasting along a high level. Three three and a half months, he's accumulated almost as much value as he did last year (by fWAR), and .307/.342/.425 with good defense is a nice performance from your CF. There are red flags about how long he can keep this up, like a high BABIP and a sinking walk rate, but they haven't caught up to him yet and so the green arrow doesn't care.
Eric Hosmer - 1B -
Happily showing some signs of life, even if I still can't get it out of my head that he's broken. Hosmer homered twice in the last week before the ASG, bringing his season line up to .268/.315/.382. It's not too late to save his season, and he very well may be more of the guy we saw in 2013, but I think it's fair to point out that the ship has sailed in terms of Hosmer as a potential star.
Billy Butler - DH -
When the deadline hits, how much of an effort do the Royals make to move Billy Butler? It's not clear how much he has left in the tank, and they'd probably have to eat salary to do it. Butler's puttering along at .273/.325/.355, and, after homering 29 times in 679 PAs in 2012, he's now homered just 18 times in the following 1000 PAs. Yes, there are other ways to contribute as a hitter other than dingers, but the decline in home run power seems to run parallel to Butler's overall decline.
Alex Gordon - LF -
With other sources of value flagging, Gordon is arguably the most important he's ever been to the Royals right now. In the second half, Kansas City probably needs him to catch fire to have a significant chance at grabbing one of the Wild Cards. The catch? Well, Alex took the last couple days before the ASG off with a right wrist sprain, which was a wise decision. The injury isn't supposed to be serious, but there's a history of hand and wrist injuries being tougher on hitters than people anticipate -- you sort of need those parts of your arms to get around on a fastball or hit a pitch with authority.
Salvador Perez - C -
Maybe I'm going soft, but I do feel like Perez earned another green arrow. His offense has been incrementally better (slightly more walks, slightly more pop, slightly less BABIP), his defense has been solid, and he deserved a spot on the AST when you compare his contributions to other American League catchers. Keep it up, Salvy.
Omar Infante - 2B -
He's been a hitting machine lately, as the BABIP fairy stopped killing him. Infante's back up to a reasonable .276/.317/.381, which makes a lot of sense because that's basically the hitter he was before his career year in 2013. Some defensive metrics are pointing at a decline in performance on the other side of the ball, though, and that may be a red flag; players with Infante's skillset (good pop for a MIF, decent contact, not many walks, some defense) can tend to have their value dry up before they hit their late 30s. Regardless, the Royals will probably still get decent value out of him this year, and my subjective opinion is that he doesn't "look" slower in the field, so I remain optimistic on this contract.
Mike Moustakas - 3B -
The standards have been set so slow that it feels cheap to give Moustakas two greens in a row, but it's sort of hard to deny that he's crawling towards the Mendoza Line. Six more months of this and we might have a league average 3B on our hands. Don't bet it.
Alcides Escobar - SS -
Consider this the umpteenth "this level of Alcides is a good starter at SS and is not the problem" blurb that I've written this year. I hope he can maintain this level in the second half.
Jarrod Dyson - OF -
Dyson keeps doing what he do, and he's doing it in more PAs than ever before. Raise your hand if you thought this magical thing wasn't possible. Yes, you can put your hand down, Mr. Moore.
Danny Valencia - IF -
.375./.400/.536 versus lefties. OPS lower than that SLG line versus normals. PA distribution? 59:47. Ladies and gents, Danny Valencia. Ladies and gents, the Kansas City Royals of 2014.
Brett Hayes - C -
If you can think of something incisive to say about Brett Hayes at this point, you're a better person than me.
Raul Ibanez - "OF" -
Your Wikipedia animal entry for the week:
Mantis shrimp or stomatopods are marine crustaceans, the members of the order Stomatopoda. They may reach 30 centimetres (12 in) in length, though in exceptional cases have been recorded at up to 38 cm (15 in). The carapace of mantis shrimp covers only the rear part of the head and the first four segments of the thorax. There are more that 400 species of Mantis shrimp. They come in a variety of colours, from shades of brown to bright neon colours and are among the most important predators in many shallow, tropical and sub-tropical marine habitats. Despite being common, they are poorly understood as many species spend most of their life tucked away in burrows and holes.
Continue to be a bit of a cipher. These days, especially, you don't have to be a thumper to play in a corner. OBP and defense can give a player a lot of value that even was saberteeth used to miss. However, unless you slug a little higher than .322, it's hard for your other skills to compensate. Aoki is apparently healthy again, and he's got a lot of work to do in the second half.
Others: Christian Colon is back down in the minors, punished for having a three-hit game (this is me kidding).
The Royals return to action after the "Midsummer Classic" with a road trip against both-colored Sox, first the underachieving World Champion variety and than the predictably cruddy kind. Happy Wednesday!