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The Royals are getting back to their roots

The Royals ventured away from their 2014-2015 playoff formula for a bit, but they appear to be back in full force.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Kansas City Royals Peter G. Aiken

The Royals have signed speedster Billy Hamilton, which has caused some disagreement among fans over whether or not this is a good signing. I, for one, am a huge supporter of this Billy Hamilton signing.

This is my take. I saw a lot of people reply with, “No one else wanted him. Wait until he’s cheaper.” Really? You’ve spoken with all 30 GMs and Hamilton’s agent? Dayton Moore is not a dumb man. Take the Mike Moustakas signing last off-season for example. Dayton waited until MARCH to sign Moose back. That’s a guy no one wanted, apparently. Dayton has proven he’s willing to wait, so let’s not just assume that Hamilton was always going to be available.

This signing tells me that Dayton has a plan. The Royals are going to get back to their 2014-2015 playoff team roots. They are going to run like crazy, play elite levels of defense, and then run some more.

Sounds a lot like the playoff teams to me. There are some obvious differences, like the fact that Brett Phillips, Alex Gordon, and Billy Hamilton will be no where near as good offensively as the outfielders on those playoff teams, but the point remains. Let’s take a look at every defensive position on the field and what the Royals will be returning in 2019:

  • Catcher: AL Gold Glove winner
  • 3B: Not good
  • SS: A top 5 defender according to the defensive metrics at FanGraphs
  • 2B: Above average to good
  • 1B: Average
  • LF: AL Gold Glove winner
  • CF: A top 8 defender according to the defensive metrics at FanGraphs
  • RF: An elite level defender in Brett Phillips

At five of the eight defensive positions on the field, the Royals will trot out elite defenders in 2019. At six of the eight defensive positions, the Royals will have above average defenders for 2019. Ryan O’Hearn is capable of playing average defense at first base and Hunter Dozier did not rate well at third base (though he appears to be capable of being average at the hot corner). The Royals will almost certainly have, once again, one of the very best (if not the best) defenses in baseball once again in 2019.

This was not necessarily the case over the last couple of seasons. Since the 2015 World Series, the Royals have allowed Lucas Duda to play first base, Jon Jay to play center field, Cheslor Cuthbert and Hunter Dozier to play third base, and the “Brothers Jorge” (Soler and Bonifacio) to patrol the outfield. Those guys don’t really fit the traditional Royals mold, both at the plate/on the bases, and defensively. Trading for Brett Philips and signing Billy Hamilton signal the intention to move back toward the “Royals” way: speed and defense.

The next step in the right direction for Kansas City will come in the form of their bullpen. Blaine Boyer, Brandon Maurer, and Justin Grimm didn’t quite cut it. Luckily for Royals fans, help is not too far away. Top prospects Richard Lovelady and Josh Staumont both ought to be in the big league bullpen on Opening Day (if not then shortly thereafter), and they will present an electric combination in the back end of the bullpen. 2018 rookies Tim Hill, Heath Fillmyer, and Jake Newberry had good seasons, and other reinforcements from the minors could soon be on the way in the forms of Kevin Lenik, Grant Gavin, and Yunior Marte.

The Rule 5 Draft is also right around the corner, and arms like Jairo Beras, Zack Thompson, and Jackson McClelland all present intriguing bullpen options for the Royals as development projects for 2019. Once the Royals get their bullpen back into shape, the roster, while significantly worse, will at least resemble the teams from the 2014 and 2015 seasons.