When I started writing for Royals Review back in May, I decided to write an article and schedule it for publishing without proofreading or approving it; like a little time capsule awaiting us all to open in late September. I wanted the article to be the ultimate “call my shot” on where the Royals would be at the time of publishing. Naturally that shot was that the Royals would be gearing up for the playoffs. This is a breakdown of that playoff bound roster. I know what you’re thinking; “They aren’t making the postseason so why should I bother reading this article?” I think you’ll be surprised by how many guesses I got correct and just how exact I got them. Bear with me.
Here we are in mid-late September and as we all saw coming, the 2019 Kansas City Royals are headed to the postseason having clinched a playoff berth a week ago in Chicago. Yeah there are still technically two weeks left in the season, but it’s never too early to start talking about the playoff roster tasked with winning the franchise’s second world title in five years.
Dayton began shaping this roster back on September 1st by making some very “outside the box” additions just in time for postseason eligibility. With those unique acquisitions’ performance since joining the club, some of these selections are pretty obvious but someone here at Royals Review needed to put pen to paper and predict it, and I was ready to accept the challenge.
With the injury to Salvy, Dayton brought in Martin Maldonado to serve as the primary receiver for the 2019 season. Maldonado did a great job, but the savvy Moore still had an ace up his sleeve. Moore sent Maldy to the North side in exchange for pitcher Mike Montgomery and signed the recently retired catcher for the veteran minimum. Since joining the team, when pitching to Ross, the pitching staff has an ERA of just 0.53 since September 2. The staff attributes that change to Ross’s veteran presence behind the dish.
After a strong Spring Training, Viloria was sent down to AA to get everyday work while Cam Gallagher assumed the backup catcher role for the big league squad. On August 4, Gallagher was injured and it was Viloria’s time to take over backup duties. With Salvy and Gallagher on Injured Reserve, Vilo is the only catcher on the 40 man roster and the default to stay in a reserve role.
First Base - Hunter Dozier
Dozier is enjoying a breakout season. The 28 year old has bounced all around the field defensively but never wavered in production at the plate slashing .286/.357/.542 and leading the team in OPS+ (132). His defense at first isn’t spectacular, but it’ll so as long as his bat continues to be like it has.
Second Base - Whit Merrifield
Like Dozier, Merrifield has also bounced around the ballpark due to his defensive versatility. Guys like that are extremely valuable in the postseason as Ned can play each matchup as strategically as possible. Whit has also contributed greatly at the plate, hitting for a .305 average and a .352 OBP. He’s not running as much (only 18 stolen bases) as the last two years, but I don’t think anyone is complaining about having him hitting second in that lineup. And if they are and are reading this, shut up! No one likes you.
Third Base - Patrick Mahomes
I was just as surprised as everyone on this one. The rumor of his jump from Super Bowl contending parking lot-mate Chiefs happened during the Big Slick celebrity softball game.
When he saw that ball sailing over the softball fence, he said the moment was bittersweet.
“I was happy I could hit the ball past the regulation fence, but it didn’t get out of the ballpark, so I started to train to do just that.”
And do that he did. Since joining the team just 3 weeks ago, he’s hit 58 dongs while playing stellar defense at the hot corner. Not too shabby. And yes, he’s committed to return to the Chiefs at the end of the baseball season.
Shortstop - Adalberto Mondesi
Many, including myself, had Mondesi as a dark horse MVP candidate at the beginning of the year. Just 24 years old, Mondesi hasn’t exactly lived up to that hype yet, but he’s still had a strong year. Currently he is tied for the league lead in triples (10) and second in stolen bases (39) and he’s missed 6 weeks to injury. He is the future of this team and he will look to improve his 100% K rate in playoff baseball.
Utility Infielder - Buck Bokai
This was another great addition by galaxy brained Dayton Moore that NO ONE saw coming. The 20 year old switch hitting shortstop from the London Kings (and most definitely not from Star Trek) has enjoyed massive power numbers from each side of the plate, but specifically the right side, where he has hit 20 every year. All this while playing all infield positions. It makes you wonder why every team wasn’t in on him this whole time. I’m guessing it has to do with Moore’s willingness to boldly go where no man has gone before.
Left Field - Alex Gordon
Gordo has had a very solid year hitting for a 94 OPS+ and making plays down the stretch that are vintage Gordo.
ICYMI: If you think you've already seen Alex Gordon's best catch this year, think again. #AlwaysRoyal pic.twitter.com/935AlIhNQX— FOX Sports Kansas City (@FSKansasCity) September 17, 2019
He will be another veteran presence in this lineup that is crucial to the success of the team. He’s been there before and he’s been successful there before. One last playoff run before riding off into the sunset sounds like a good way to go.
Center Field - Dominic Toretto
I really don’t know how he did it, but Dayton went and got Toretto off the streets of (undisclosed tropical location).
Moore happened upon Toretto on a trip to (undisclosed Latin American development campus) to scout some of the recent international signings. Toretto was souping up the team bullpen cart. A ball was mistakenly thrown at Toretto and he responded by hitting the ball 500 feet with a heavy duty wrench. Dayton immediately signed him to a contract, and since joining the club, 8 of the team’s 10 wins have been come from behind victories after a rousing “family” speech from Toretto. A truly incredible occurrence leaving the Royals fast and the opponents furious.
Right Field - Jorge Soler
Had it not been for the incredible power surge from Mahomes, Soler would be the franchise leader for homeruns in a season. Instead, he will have to settle for #3 with his incredible 45 (and counting). The power is great to see but it might be even better seeing him stay healthy. His defense is passable but improving.
Utility Outfielder - Brett Phillips
Since rejoining the club in mid-August, Phillips has struggled a bit on offense but is showing value. Yes he’s hitting just .173 and striking out at a 24.6% rate, but he’s also walking in 15.4% of his ABs (leads team) and sporting a .302 OBP. To me, that’s just fine considering how great he is in the field. For this playoff run, that’s where the majority of his value will lie regardless, serving in the Jarod Dyson role from ‘14/’15. Also I love him.
Pinch Run Specialist - Sonic the Hedgehog
Yeah, somehow Dayton made this happen. He signed, not only, an animal, but an animal with INSANE speed. I mean they had to make him special cleats that didn’t burst into flames when he gets up to speed.
Along with his incredible speed, Sonic brings an insatiable appetite for chasing rings. On the Grit spectrum, that’s about as gritty as it gets.
Designated Hitter - Mr. Go
Formerly of the Doosan Bears in the Korean Baseball League, Mr. Go is...well... he’s a damn gorilla. For real.
No that’s not CGI, that’s a baseball playing gorilla. And by god does he play baseball. Mr. Go only hits dingers. Don’t expect him to run the bases or make great defensive plays. He’s a gorilla and he does gorilla things. Since his debut in Kansas City 5 weeks ago, he’s hit 571 dingers with an average exit velo of 355.1 mph. Opposing teams have since played every game under protest (who cares) and to them I say “Shut up! No one likes you!”.
(4th wall break here: seriously everyone reading this needs to watch this 12 minute summary video of Mr. Go. It’s a mix between The Natural, Rampage, and Concussion and might be my new favorite thing.)
Brad Keller - 4.19 ERA, 6.64 K/9, 3.81 BB/9, 4.95 xFIP
Danny Duffy - 4.55 ERA, 7.89 K/9, 3.26 BB/9, 5.16 xFIP
Mike Montgomery (since acquisition) - 4.23 ERA, 7.16 K/9, 2.77 BB/9, 4.28 xFIP
Alice Cullen (since acquisition) - 6.66 ERA, 6.66 K/9, 6.66 BB/9, 6.66 xFIP
The rotation is not great but will suffice. Keller, Duffy, and Montgomery are having a solid second half of the year after a tough start. Those three are probably pretty average going into the postseason but with this offense, it won’t matter.
The real wild card of this group is trailblazer, Alice Cullen. Not only is she the first female to pitch in the majors, she’s also the first (known) vampire to pitch in the majors. Moore traded the entire city of St. Louis to the Cullen family team in the Vampire Thunderstorm Baseball League (VTBL). Moore scouted the team after having heard of a league that rivaled the power numbers being produced in the PCL. Moore came out of that trip with a heightened fear of garlic and pitcher Alice Cullen. Though her numbers aren’t great, her makeup is on point (get it?). Weirdly we haven’t seen Dayton at a day game since. Here is some footage of Dayton’s scouting trip.
(Another unheard of 4th wall break: this is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen and, not to brag, I’ve seen Yakov Smirnoff and Dane Cook live so I know funny)
Tim Wakefield - Here he is at age 53 pitching like never before. It’s incredible thing to see. That knuckle ball is the ultimate palate cleanser in between pitchers. If the starter doesn’t have their stuff, get Wakefield in there to reset the batters’ minds.
Mel Clark - Speaking of old-timer that still has stuff, Clark is a ripe age of 71 years old. Somehow he’s able to throw gas like he did with the ‘94 Angels. The last time we saw him in big league action this is what he was doing:
He brings a lot of veteran leadership to this roster and he might still have something in the tank now that he’s closer to actual angels.
Ryan Dunne - Came to the Royals after an up and down career in Philadelphia. He’s a volatile lefty with decent stuff that never could quite return to starter form like he was back in the ‘01 Cape Cod league. Here’s footage from his last start ever.
He’s pushing 40 years old and has had a questionable resume. Maybe he’s here for situational lefties. He’s a real wild card/head scratcher but Dayton went and got him for a reason.
Richard Lovelady - Mysteriously didn’t pitch after 8/20; strange (4.76 xFIP)
Kyle Zimmer - Mysteriously only pitched once a week all year; strange (6.61 xFIP)
Henry Rowengartner - He came on the seen in ‘93 as a 12 year old phenom that could hit triple digits consistently. A freak ball slipping accident seemed to zap his fastball speed back to that of a 12 year old. He showed his grit but finishing the inning in a...nontraditional...way and the team went on to win the World Series without their stud youngster. Since then, he’s been utilizing his “floater” pitch with relative success. We’ll see if it’s still useful on the biggest stage.
Ian Kennedy - Royals paid him to compete, glad he gets a shot to do that finally. Just think about a situation where he got that huge payday and didn’t get a chance to compete in the playoffs. That’d be a real black eye on the front office’s face (3.77 xFIP)
Closer - Leiting aka Zeros
Mr. Go’s nemesis in the Korean Baseball League. What’s better than having a power hitting gorilla on your team? Also having a power throwing gorilla on your mound. Zeros lived up to his name in the last 3 weeks surrendering 0 runs on 0 hits from 0 contact while hitting speeds up to 130 mph. Tragically, he started losing control of where his pitches were going after a few weeks after his debut. He hit 8 batters in 1 week, sending them all to the hospital with internal injuries. Pitching coach, Cal Eldred was able to work with him to develop a two handed pitch that is, not only easier to control, but generating spin rates that we’ve never seen. He has returned to form and appears ready to dominate once again.
(Seriously, watch Mr. Go)
So there you have it Royals fans. An in-depth prediction of what the 2019 postseason roster will look like. I’m 60% sure that this group can keep up with the likes of the Astros, Dodgers, and Yankees.