The Royals have just started their second full month of baseball and they are currently the worst team in the AL. They’re not just a bad team, though. They’re a boring team. No one is firing throws directly into the faces of relievers, no one is allowing lazy flyballs to fall to the grass untouched to jog back to the dugout a bit faster, and the man producing the most offense on the team is 28-year-old career minor-leaguer Whit Merrifield - who does at least have the longest hitting streak in the AL so far, this year. About the only other thing the Royals have going for interest is the three-way battle between Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, and Brandon Moss to Break Balboni.
With so little to draw interest nightly in Kauffman, it’s only natural to look around baseball to check in on old friends. So here’s a summary of the former Royals around baseball. This is your opportunity to see how they’re doing and maybe daydream a little about what might have been. There are quite a few of them, so this week will just feature the old friends still in the American League. All stats courtesy of FanGraphs.com
Jesse Chavez has seen a HR/FB rate spike and that has led him to a negative fWAR so far this year while starting for the Angels. Brooks Pounders was recently recalled from AAA and though he allowed 4 runs in his first outing, he’s been scoreless ever since.
Carlos Beltran went back to the first team he ever saw the playoffs with, but he’s seen a hefty strike-out rate increase which has made him a negative contributor, so far. The same is true of Nori Aoki who has also seen a dip in even his normally small ISO.
Liam Hendriks has also seen an increase in his strike out rate, but that’s a good thing for a pitcher. He’s already appeared as a reliever in 20 games and appears to be on course for a career year. Ryan Madson has his highest strike out and lowest walk rates since returning to baseball, and that’s contributed to him being a dominant force as a reliever for the Athletics, as well. Former Royal farmhands Andrew Triggs and Sean Manaea are also in Oakland’s rotation and contributing positively.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before but Jose Bautista - who played 13 games for the 2004 Royals - has seen a walk rate decrease and his strike out rate increase so he’s still not contributing as much he once did. He is doing better than last year, at least. Kendrys Morales, unsurprisingly, still looks a lot like the same guy from last year - lots of home runs and a decent batting average for the modern era but probably not enough to justify paying him huge money to DH. J.P. Howell is still pitching, but not well. His ERA is nearly 9 and he’s already missed some time with injuries.
Jarrod Dyson has by far the lowest BABIP of his career and it’s resulted in career worsts across a lot of categories. He’s still found a way to contribute on defense and steal 14 bases, though. Danny Valencia is having a pretty terrible year all around.
Francisco Pena got to play in 3 games earlier this year, including 1 against the Royals in which he doubled his career home run total when he belted 2 of them. He was demoted back to AAA but was recently recalled again.
Dillon Gee was recently recalled from their AAA affiliate and rewarded them 2.2 innings of scoreless relief in his first appearance of 2017. Jeremy Jeffress has gone from reliable middle-reliever to terrible anytime-reliever; he’s currently walking more than he strikes out on top of allowing more hits than innings pitched.
Jake Odorizzi continues to be a solid major league starter for the Rays. He’s currently carrying his highest HR/FB rate of his career, but also his lowest ERA. He’s still only 27 years old, too.
Ervin Santana has his second lowest career strike out rate along with his second highest walk rate, but somehow he’s putting up an ERA under 2 with a FIP over 4. He may be due for some regression soon but for now he’s doing what the Twins paid him to do - lead their rotation.
The last time Melky Cabrera was a positive contributor in an odd-numbered year was when he played with the Royals. He’s on pace to set a new record for futility, though. He already has -0.5 fWAR. James Shields made 3 starts for a 1.62 ERA earlier this year but has been on the DL ever since.
It seems that perhaps hitting for the Royals is a kind of curse as even outside the players currently signed to the club anyone who has hit for the team is having trouble contributing for their new homes. It would be nice to have Madson shoring up our bullpen, right now, though. Does anyone see any former Royals missing from this list? Who else would you like to bring back to help this year’s team?