Last night the Royals improbably rallied against the Reds for three goals in the 8th inning, tying the game at 5. Thanks to some cutesy/stupid pinch-hitter calls earlier in the game, Buddy Bell needed to make one more call to the bench to hit for Todd Wellemeyer with two outs and two men on. Because Matt Stairs had already been burned, Bell called upon Angel Berroa to be the hero, after giving Angel the first seven innings off for rest.
There wasn't a single Royal fan that had any hope of seeing Berroa even luck into a single there. As someone said on RoyalBoard a Berroa at-bat is like a concession at this point. Berroa grounded out of course, and in the bottom of the 8th the Reds took the lead back, letting the Royals get a fresh losing streak going in time for the I-70 series in St. Louis.
It didn't have to be this way, it didn't have to come to this. The Royals don't need Miguel Tejada on the pivot, and they don't need Derek Jeter. They just need someone who's decent, as we're still recovering from the Neifi Perez era.
A part of the 2001 Johnny Damon trade (has it been 5 years?) Berroa came over with Roberto Hernandez -- who's also amazingly still in baseball -- with the fanbase hoping that Allard Baird was able to get something from Johnny Damon, whom everyone knew the Royals wouldn't/couldn't resign.
How did it get this bad? How did Berroa fall from the realm of vaguely useful to truly awful so fast? How much worse can he get before Buddy Bell doesn't play him every, single, day.
Its maddening to watch Berroa play: the errors, the baserunning mistakes, the endless strikeouts. And he isn't Adam Dunn either, someone who works the count and is willing to suffer the consequences; no, he's a free swinging hacker who's not afraid to swing at a ball that bounces.
Angel Berroa is hitting .240/.262/.332 in 2006. He's drawn six walks this season, in 268 PAs. Six.
In the last week, he's hitting .063/.118/.063. As we close June, Berroa's thrown up a .218/.253/.230 line on the month, doing his part to throw a wet blanket on the Royals' miraculous attempt to have a .500 month. One more split stat: on the road, Berroa's perhaps the worst player in baseball, hitting .177/.204/.234.
How did we get to this point? You don't see many players collapse during their age 24 through 28 seasons.
Sure, Berroa probably didn't deserve the Rookie of the Year award in 2003, but he wasn't an indefensible choice either. There was the weird anti-Japanese issue to deal with, as well as the fact that Berroa did play a premium position and did lead the Royals to an exciting 83 win season. Even in 2003, a .287/.338/.451 line isn't cheap, especially when you factor in a still decent baserunning set (21/26) and a defense that hadn't cratered.
Angel Berroa's OPS:
Can you spot the trend?
Thanks to the dogged efforts of the National League to field a miserable product, short stop hasn't been completely transformed to the extent we thought it might be during the "Holy Trinity" days of Nomah, Jeter, Arod (and Miggy). Still, Berroa's not getting the job done, even relative to position and putting aside questions of defense.
Here's how Berroa stacks up among short stops with at least 150 plate appearances:
Batting Average: Berroa- .240 (26th). Well, at least he's better than Juan Castro, Juan Uribe, Russ Adams, Khalil Greene and Clint Barmes.
On-Base Average: Berroa- .262 (28th). Berroa's down with the same group of guys hitting .230ish. Not to be outdone, but Berroa has the fewest walks of any min. 150 PA SS. Even Ronny Cedeno managed a .301 OBP guys.
Slugging Percentage: Berroa- .332 (28th). This is getting repetitive. We're still waiting on Berroa's first triple of the season. Is the homer's power completely gone? Well, this isn't a good way to start your age 28 season.
OPS: (for those that like combining things ) Berroa- .594 (29th). Good work from Angel here, managing to be even less than the anemic sum of his parts. He turned two 28th rankings in OPS' component parts, into a 29th ranking. Look at it this way, his OPS is .060 points below a 55 year old Royce Clayton, in Washington.
Here's a fun one.
Pitches Per Plate Appearance: Berroa- 3.30 (31st). Yep, thats dead last. Nobody's seeing fewer pitches than Angel. Actually, someone is seeing just as few, but still not less, as Juan Castro also sits a 3.30. I can't wait to follow this battle all season. Castro's in the Clubhouse (the minors/bench) with a solid figure, which puts the pressure on Angel. Of course, Angel can also surge ahead over the next three months.
Despite seeing so few pieces, Berroa's been able to manage this:
Strikeouts: Berroa- 45 (13th). At least Juan Castro only struck out 25 times. As we should know by now, strikeouts are an overratted evil on the offensive side. There are strikeouts and then there are strikeouts. Angel's getting strikeouts.
I can't resist this:
Walks Per Strikeout: Berroa- 0.13 (31st). Thats last among short stops. Actually, of the 264 Major League Players with at least 150 PAs, Berroa ranks 262 in terms of BB/K. Only a half-dead Miguel Olivo (.11) and the hacktastic Jeff Francoeur (.11) rank lower. Francoeur's wimped out and drawn 7 walks this season. I guess he's not as manly as Jenn Sterger thinks he is.
Runs Created Per 27 Outs: How would a lineup of all Berroa's fare? How does 2.16 (30th) sound? The positive is that a lineup of all Berroa's would also create a game that lasts about 75 minutes long. For the Juan Castro fans, Berroa triumphs here, as Castro could only manage a 2.04 total. Good thing Gardy chose him over Bartlett, huh.
Since his fluky 2003, the Royals have given Angel the opportunity to make 1095 outs. Counting sac bunts, it looks like this:
2004: 383 outs
2005: 454 outs
2006 (to date): 258
Thanks only to Buddisimo's willingness to bury Berroa at the bottom of the lineup have we been spared more outs. On the season Berroa ranks 4th on the team in PAs, behind the luminous trio of Grudz (299), Minky (286) and Emil Brown (284). No wonder this team can't score.
Meanwhile, Esteban German is hitting .333/.426/.405 and has been granted 133 PAs. Andres Blanco has seen 19 PAs. The only question now is, what does Berroa have to do to see more time on the bench? Strikeout 20 straight times? Hit .150 for a month... oh wait, already happening. The only time the Royals have sat Berroa this season was last week, after he was booed at home. If anything, it was a pro-Berroa, cowardly move by the team, complete with Bell covering for him the next day and saying he was a little banged up. Thats not good enough.
The goal is to win, right?