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First Half Grades: Position Players

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I'm not sure when this became standard fare, but it seems a sin not to post some kind of First Half Review/Grades thing over the All-Star break. I'll try to post my own grades without peeking at the grades "JQ" already posted about ten days ago. Also, you should check out "grudz69"'s diary "we almost lost them" if you haven't already heard about the Royal's team plane problems. Without further preface, in honor of Mark Redman, lets get started.

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(Reminder, rate stats are listed as AVG/OBP/SLG)

John Buck (Catcher): Buck's done what he's always done as a Royal, hitting .242/.301/.415, right in line with his performances in 2004 and 2005. Buck's month by month OPS shows a different story: .598, .673, .952, .515. Three months out of four he hurt the lineup on a daily basis, and in the other month he was an elite asset. I'll take one awesome month and three bad ones over four months of mediocrity. B-

Paul Bako (Catcher): In the proud tradition of Brent Mayne, the Royals actually sought out Bako in the offseason. In return, he's hit .230/.292/.253, which was to be expected by everyone save Allard Baird. Since 2002 Bako has hit one home run. With backups like these, the value of Buck becomes more apparent. For not posting an OBP or SLG over .300: F.

Dougie Mientkiewicz (1B, Veteran Presence): Dougie takes all the fun out of life. A galvanizing mistake for the Royals fanbase in April in May, when he nailed OPSs of .669 and .742 as a firstbaseman hitting third, Dougie was a symbol of the organization's stupidity. When Buddisimo refused to play Justin Huber because "it wouldn't be fair to Dougie" even the most mild mannered Royals fans cried foul. Since then, to everyone's surprise, Minky's actually been a pretty good player, hitting .291/.366/.453 in June and .419/.486/.581 in July. Its hard to cry foul when the man's raised his overall line to .286/.363/.420 with good defense: B.

Mike Sweeney (1B): Sweeney hasn't appeared since May 1st, and has only played in 20 games. On the positive side, he's outhit Paul Bako, .176/.313/.309 but also, as every Royal fan obsessively knows, costs a bit more. He's traveling with the team, but its unclear when he'll come back. I know many will want the big F here, but I can't bring myself to do it: Incomplete.

Tony Graffanino (1B/2B/3B): A darling last year with the Royals and Red Sox, Graffy simply isn't wasn't hitting until a hot pre-break July rose him to respectability (.435/.458/.565 in July) and back to a performance level we more or less recognize at .272/.330/.405. He doesn't hit enough to play first base, although that hasn't stopped Bell from putting him there in 15 games. A redundant player on this current roster, Graffy could rise to prominence after Grudz or Minky are shipped off: C-.

Mark Grudzielanek (2B): When everyone else got hot in June, he cratered. It worked out OK for the team, but it also probably hurt his trade value a tad, and made it that more difficult for Ozzie Guillen to choose a Royal All-Star. Still, he's hitting .291/.328/.403 at 2nd, which you take 9 times out of 10. According to VORP, he's been the 8th most valuable second-baseman in the league (10.4), somewhere in the neighborhood of Mark Loretta (12.5) and Aaron Hill (10.2). He's old, and he's been there every day to play a tough position reasonably well: B+

Mark Teahen (3B): Just when he looked like a total disaster at third, Teahen rebounded from a demotion to Omaha with a .305/.352/.463 June and a .303/.410/.636 July. Perhaps I'll always associate him with Buck because of the Beltran trade, but he seems like a similar player: some weeks he'll excite and inspire you, others he'll look like one of the worst players in baseball (he hit .077 in May). A season line of .260/.319/.448 is something to build on in the second half, as is his middle of the road VORP (4.3). Has anyone else noticed how bad third base play has gotten in the last decade? B-

Angel Berroa (SS): A week ago it was brought to my attention that Berroa isn't much worse than Reggie Sanders if you consider his position, yet Sanders has recieved about a tenth of the bitterness heaped on Berroa. There's something to be said for the fact that we've all been a little too hard on Berroa. And its also true that Berroa's not alone on the roster as a wholly flawed player with almost no strengths. Then again, .245/.269/.347 is .245/.269/.347. The fact that Berroa's game has atrophied this far is a testament to the poor instruction he's received daily as a Royal. If he's not even going to slug .400 with such horrible on-base skills, then whats the point? D-

Esteban German (Util): The man who would be king, German's having his career year (.341/.434/.415) if only someone would notice. If Buddy Bell isn't going to reward a guy who can play six positions with a "4" at the beginning of his OBP and SLG, then I don't know what he's looking for in a player. Yes, German is headed towards a career high in playing time, and I realize he's not actually this good. But at 142 plate appearances, the Royals have gone out of their way to not play him: A-

Emil Brown (LF/RF): Something's missing in 2006 from everyone's favorite latest incarnation of Raul Ibanez. Brown's hitting .277/.342/.418 with 6 homers, despite ceaseless playing time. His VORP (3.4) says what we've known all along: given a chance, he can be a league average hitter. Of course, league average for a corner outfielder isn't so hot. A negative in the field and a zero on the basis, Emil's also been outhit by Scotty Pods (3.5 VORP) and is dangeously close to the illustrious Brandon Fahey (2.4). He's not helping the team win 63 games: C-

Reggie Sanders (RF): Did you hear that Reggie joined the 300-300 club? A random enough bright spot in an otherwise dismal .250/.311/.433 season. Sanders hasn't posted a batting average that low since 2002, an OBP or SLG that low since 2000. Credit LaRussa for finding a way to milk a .546 slugging out of an oft-injured Sanders last season, I guess. His negative VORP (-0.5) says it all, he's been a below average hitter at a position where you should be able to hide a hitter at worst: D+

David DeJesus (CF/LF): David's rebounded from an injured April and early May to have perhaps the Team MVP performance of the season so far. His slugging percentage the last three months? How about .500 in May, .500 in June, .500 in July, exactly. Needless to say, his season line of .310/.404/.477 as the everyday leadoff hitter has been the most hopeful development of the season. The Gathright trade pushes him to left field, where he should be expected to hit a little more than in center, effectively negating some of his value. Still, its a nice flycatcher outfield when it works: A-

Joey Gathright (CF): I'm not sure he was worth J.P. Howell, but as a early "signature" move from Dayton Moore, the Gathright trade hasn't flopped either. Gator's hitting .256/.396/.308 as a Royal, but is mysteriously only one for three in stolen base attempts. He's doing his best to get on base, and .396 isn't chump change. Still a wait and see player, Gathright's been better than expected so far: B-

Matt Stairs (DH): Now in his third season as a Royal, Stairs is hitting .267/.349/.479 with 8 homers. His days as a truly useful hitter are over, but he's held his own and gives the team a modicum of power (along with Sanders and Brown, its a modicum special) all while being incredibly slow and a liability in the field. In this humble scribe's opinion, the Yankees, A's and Twins could all use Stairs, but something tells me he's staying put: C+