West Coast series games ridiculous. And I don't just mean the kind that have you staying up past your normal sleepy time to watch a Jeremy Guthrie start. Or the kind that have you staying up past your normal sleepy time to watch the American League All-Star Lineup getting buzz-sawed by...Mike Montgomery. Actually, you know what? Maybe I'm specifically referring to that kind, now that I give that a moment's thought. Though really, I didn't know that kind existed. Don't let them fool you, it's rough being on the East Coast sometimes.
And yet, despite now having a 10-13 record vs. southpaws, the Royals are still 40-28, disruption of circadian rhythms notwithstanding. That's still good for the best winning percentage in the American League, and best in MLB among clubs not currently being investigated by the FBI (nope, never going to stop making that joke, sorry). Has it been more about the pitching or the American League All-Star Line-up, though? Read on for your Position Players Ups and Downs.
SS - Alcides Escobar -
Alcides is maybe a tick off last year's pace...maybe. His K-rate is actually somewhat down thus far, his BABIP too...despite his LD% being right around the same rate. Honestly, if there's any player who's having a season almost exactly like you'd expect, right down to the plus defense, it's Escobar. The continuing usage of him as leadoff man is interesting, since the speed that seems to be part of the reason for it hasn't been as evident this year (5 SBs on the season, last year he had 31 by the end of the year), but far be it for me to bring down Ned's Republic.
3B - Mike Moustakas -
He hasn't fallen off, hitting .342/.388/.438 in June. Obviously that's a line that's heavily batting average fueled, and we shouldn't expect Moustakas to hit .327 all year, but damn if hasn't turn out to be a best-case scenario for Moustakas in the first half. He's still spraying the ball better than ever before, even if his batted ball data shows that he's back to pulling the ball a bit more often. Most of the defensive metrics see him as above average afield, so there's really nothing to complain about here. Moose Tacos for everyone!
CF - Lorenzo Cain -
Cain's current line of .290/.346/.440 would handily eclipse his career stats, and that's with his BABIP having fallen to his career average. Cain's defense is still a thing to behold, and he's almost at 3 fWAR already. I say this with crossed fingers, but if he can avoid injury, this might be a career year taking shape.
1B - Eric Hosmer -
Eh, okay, so he wasn't going to hit like an MVP candidate all season. Hosmer was ridiculous through the end of May, but his June line has been a punchless .257/.300/.354. His overall season line is still a nice .289/.357/.453, and he's still stinging 23.3 percent of his batted balls for line drives. So, while we probably shouldn't be overly concerned, it's hard to not be annoyed by how much this month has looked like Ghosts of Hosmers Past.
DH - Kendrys Morales -
Eh, okay, so he wasn't going to hit like an MVP candidate all season either. Morales, whose value is basically 100% tied to his hitting, had enjoyed a blistering first couple months, so the .246/.290/.385 wasn't totally unexpected. As long as he stays on track now that his BABIP bubble has popped, he'll still be an asset at the plate.
LF - Alex Gordon -
Gordon's probably had as weird a year as anyone on the roster in terms of the way he's got to this current line, but the arrow's back in the right direction thanks to that rising OBP. Outside of a couple isolated stretches, he still hasn't caught fire yet, but his IsoP is back up to last year's mark and his OBP is at .381. Couple that with the normal Gordon defense, and he's still a heck of a player.
C - Salvador Perez -
In which Salvy heats up, still without actually getting on base. Perez is always going have a lower bar to hurdle over, as a catcher who outhits most of his peers, but it's hard to deny the uneven-ness of .280/.291/.464. He's thumping the ball even more than before, with 11 dingers (last year's total was 17) on the season. But he's also walking less than before, too, as his walk rate has dipped below 2%. The overall package is still a valuable one, but one that'll run hot and cold to even more silly extremes.
RF - Alex Rios -
With any luck, his bat will wake up sometime soon. You want to make allowances for missed time due to injury and how that can disrupt a player's swing, but .220/.248/.280 is, in a word, ouch.
2B - Omar Infante -
Someday, maybe there will be some evidence that the Royals 2B position is not cursed. Someday.
IF - Christian Colon -
Basically the same old story with Colon: he doesn't look good enough to be starting at 2B, but he looks miles better than Omar Infante right now.
OF - Jarrod Dyson -
I don't know what the heck happened to Dyson's normally solid walk rate, but he's been adding value in his role yet again after a slow start. If there's any surprise to me in how the Royals playing time has been distributed, it's that Dyson hasn't made it onto the card as a starter a few more times. Then again, Rios is healthy, so maybe it's not that surprising.
C - Drew Butera -
Currently pulling the neat trick of not having a hitting percentage over .200. It's like the Royals want to have an excuse to play Perez every day or something.
The Royals are back at it late tonight, with Danny Duffy going against Roenis Elias. The Battle for Grass Creek continues!