It's that time of year again, sports fans! The time where in a heart-pounding, jaw-dropping, regression-defying, league-leading burst of amaziness, the Kansas City Royals return to action. Unfortunately for you all, that means Max and the other admins of this site, with their Moore-like grip over RR, wheel me out of my cryogenic chamber the same way Dayton and his pals refused to let Jeff Francoeur or Yuniesky Betancourt die. Kyle Davies is on a major league roster right now, and thus I'm still here too.
So forgive the frozen skin flakes on your floor and the overly wordy stats post on your screen, this is, once again, all their fault. I am but the instrument of their will, hear to callously assign arrows and other little doohickeys to the players on this roster. If you didn't already know the drill, the "Ups and Downs" will go over the players on the Royals roster from week-to-week, alternating position players and pitchers based on the week. They'll be graded based on the past two weeks stats, taking into account both the underlying excitement and the bottom line (contributions on both sides of the ball are taken into account). You will probably argue about things in the comments, which is good because discussion is good and I need to ban a certain amount of commenters every year in order to
bathe in their blood to stay young as Jeff Francoeur does with young fourth outfielders meet my quota.
I'm kidding, mostly. Let's take a look at the Position Players on your 7-0 Kansas City Royals this weeks, since the pitchers haven't even gone through the rotation twice. In the order of
Tony Pena, uh Buddy Bell? Ned Yost's last line-up. As always, if you have a question related to something I drop in an entry, let me--we try to keep the stats in these pieces friendly and approachable to all, but sometimes digging deeper does get a little complex. Anyhow:
SS - Alcides Escobar -
You know the story with Escobar and other Royals. If guys such as Escobar, Cain, Dyson, etc. can bop a fair amount of singles to keep their hitting percentages in good-to-vaguely respectable territory, their defense makes them pretty good regulars (or, in Dyson's case, one of the most valuable bench/platoon players in MLB). Alcides didn't have his best year by some metrics with the glove last season, but remained good all season long. This year, he's started out on that tack while hitting .367/.394/.467 in his first 35 PAs.
Escobar really isn't that good of a leadoff hitter, even with guys who can put up a .317 OBP rising in value due to the state of offense in MLB. But at that opening week triple-slash, he made us forget that for now. Also, in the "fun with small sample size," Escobar has struck out in 2.9% of his PAs compared to over 13% normally.
3B - Mike Moustakas -
We don't really know the story with Mike Moustakas. We know he was terrible at the plate for quite a long time. We know he hit as if he had, at least, rediscovered his power stroke during the Royals magical run last season. We know he's hitting .360/.500/.640 over the first seven games, which is both more than good enough for an up arrow and encouraging in that we're hoping to see more of the postseason-Moose.
Moose is probably a good bet to beat his PECOTA of .241/.294/381. The question is by how much. We know what they say about the truth being in-between, the key is for that "in-between" to not be an endless chasm. So far, so good.
CF - Lorenzo Cain -
There's a theme with these first three hitters, which is they've all got batting averages akin to Ted Williams's season prime years over a week or so. Cain is cruising at .407/.500/.630. Cain's defense is good, and he should weather the BABIP storm this year to remain productive, even if he returns towards his career .347 rather than last year's .380. Most projection systems like him to be in the .330-.350 range on balls in play, which would leave him around his career triple slash of .282/.330/.397.
1B - Eric Hosmer -
The batting average is shiny, but not quite shiny enough to put Hoz in the "better-than-expected/running hot" category. Hosmer is at .294/.324/.419. You'd take that over the cumulative .270/.310/.398 of last year, of course, but we all want to see more of the 900+ OPS guy we saw in the playoffs. Everything I wrote about Moustakas above could be cut-and-pasted here. As it seems like it's been for an eternity, we're hoping for bigger things from Hoz. He's 25 now, so maybe this is the year he finally breaks out over a full season.
DH - Kendrys Morales -
Morales is hitting a ridiculous .414/.500/.724. Obviously this will not continue (sorry for the fact that I'll be writing that a lot in the early going), but it's encouraging to see a guy whose bat looked fairly dead in 2014 get hot out of the gate. He's been taking-and-raking, walking five times and hitting 5 XBH (2 dongs) in 34 PAs. It's still open to question how well this works out, and it's really open to question if the Royals needed to give an almost 32-year-old with no defensive value another year, but the early returns certainly can't make you unhappy. Maybe this one turns out to be a better
buy-low sign-off-a-bad-year choice than it initially looked.
LF - Alex Gordon -
Another fun thing about the Royals start? They've done it without Gordon getting it going yet. While he plate approach is clearly intact, as evidenced by his .348 OBP, he just hasn't got anything to fall for him in his 23 PAs. And yeah, by now you already know about his off-season wrist surgery, so there's a chance he's going to be feeling his way throw things for a little while yet.
And yes, he would have been out at home plate by 30 feet. The second best thing about the off-season ending, closely behind baseball being back, is hopefully never seeing an article that centers around Gordon's hit at the end of Game 7. No, not bitter here. No sirree.
RF - Alex Rios - N/A
Remind me to find a working band-aid sticker for next week's post. Rios, as with many Royals, was starting hot. Unlike many others, he's now got a broken hand. It's hard to describe how much hand/wrist injuries suck, particularly in baseball. Screw you, J.R. Graham.
C - Salvador Perez -
Salvy is as Salvy does. Hot as pistol to start the year, only walking once in a .414/.433/.759 stretch. Perez has homered three times thus far, and--fun with small sample size alert--only swung at 28.1% of pitches thrown to him outside the strike zone. Last year overall he was at 46.8%.
2B - Omar Infante -
It turns out there was no Chris Getz, and there is no "Omar Infante." There is just "Kansas City Royals 2B" and until noted otherwise, assume he is not hitting.
OF - Paulo Orlando -
Three triples as his first three MLB hits. Can't make this stuff up.
Not Ranked Due To Lack Of PT: Jarrod Dyson, Erik Kratz, Christian Colon
The Royals are back in action tonight against the Minnesota Twins, with Edison Volquez going for the good guys and Kyle Gibson going for the Twinkies. Happy Jackie Robinson Day!