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Royals POMA Projections

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Bet you didn’t realize there was one more projection system out there.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Kansas City Royals
Sep 1, 2019; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals designated hitter Jorge Soler (12) is congratulated in the dugout after scoring against the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

It’s projection season and the latest is hitting right now. This one is only for the Royals and is derived from a complex algorithm of whatever I feel like putting down and then adjusting based loosely on reality. I guess you could say they’re pulled out my ass. And so, let it be written, let it be said, the POMA projections are born. Now, let’s take a look at what has come out of my ass. Wait. No. But yes.

Offense as a Whole

AVG OBP SLG K% BB% PA AB R H 1B 2B 3B HR RBI BB K HBP SF SH SB CS
AVG OBP SLG K% BB% PA AB R H 1B 2B 3B HR RBI BB K HBP SF SH SB CS
.258 .320 .424 22.5% 7.6% 6092 5506 702 1422 914 291 35 183 655 461 1372 60 38 20 140 47

I’ll give the offensive numbers first and note that there’s some improvement here over last season. They’re just better across the board in all three slash stats to the point that their projected average would have ranked in the top 10 in 2019. Of course, the OBP is still in the bottom of the middle third, which seems decent until you realize how close it is to the batting average. The SLG looks okay enough, but again, not compared to the average. The ISO of .166 would have ranked 25th, which is just one spot higher than the 2019 Royals did rank. It’s just enough to make people who weren’t paying attention to believe the offense isn’t an issue, but not enough to actually not be an issue.

Catchers

Player AVG OBP SLG K% BB% PA AB R H 1B 2B 3B HR RBI BB K HBP SF SH SB CS
Player AVG OBP SLG K% BB% PA AB R H 1B 2B 3B HR RBI BB K HBP SF SH SB CS
Salvador Perez .242 .282 .444 22.6% 4.2% 433 405 61 98 56 22 0 20 58 18 98 6 4 0 0 0
Cam Gallagher .231 .289 .368 18.8% 7.1% 197 182 16 42 27 10 0 5 15 14 37 1 0 0 0 0
Meibrys Viloria .239 .308 .358 17.4% 9.1% 121 109 6 26 19 4 0 3 5 11 21 0 0 1 0 0

This is a fairly productive group from a power perspective with 28 home runs, but poor on base percentages and low averages leave people wanting more. Without a WAR system in place (aWAR calculations are in the works, but haven’t squeezed them out just yet), you can’t see in these numbers that Salvy has some defensive struggles in his return from Tommy John. The bat doesn’t really miss a beat, though, which has its positives and negatives. All in all, this is actually a relatively strong unit offensively compared to the rest of the league where catchers, well, can’t hit.

Infielders

Player AVG OBP SLG K% BB% PA AB R H 1B 2B 3B HR RBI BB K HBP SF SH SB CS
Player AVG OBP SLG K% BB% PA AB R H 1B 2B 3B HR RBI BB K HBP SF SH SB CS
Ryan O'Hearn .209 .274 .356 28.3% 8.5% 223 191 13 40 28 6 0 7 20 19 63 2 1 0 2 1
Nicky Lopez .282 .348 .372 11.7% 8.8% 669 599 88 169 133 25 4 7 43 59 78 2 1 8 12 4
Maikel Franco .253 .292 .435 18.5% 5.1% 531 499 51 126 75 31 0 20 53 27 98 2 3 0 6 4
Adalberto Mondesi .277 .309 .457 25.8% 4.1% 512 481 76 133 81 30 9 13 61 21 132 3 3 4 53 8
Ryan McBroom .284 .345 .433 24.4% 8.5% 316 282 26 80 56 15 0 9 41 27 77 2 5 0 7 5
Kelvin Gutierrez .281 .337 .469 20.2% 7.7% 104 96 8 27 17 6 0 4 14 8 21 0 0 0 1 0

There isn’t much power in this unit with Franco supplying pretty much all of the boom, but there are some bright spots. I see Nicky Lopez figuring it out a bit and hitting for a solid average and OBP, though he still needs to add about 30 points to his SLG to be viable beyond his cheap years. And the Royals really see something from both Ryan McBroom and Kelvin Gutierrez, which is big moving forward for them while they wait and hope on the next wave. You’d like to see more pop from both of those two as corner infielders, but they hold it down pretty well. Ryan O’Hearn starts last year like he spent most of 2019, though, which is a bit of a bummer and Franco is just good enough to keep his job most of the year but not good enough to get traded or tendered a contract after the season.

Outfielders

Player AVG OBP SLG K% BB% PA AB R H 1B 2B 3B HR RBI BB K HBP SF SH SB CS
Player AVG OBP SLG K% BB% PA AB R H 1B 2B 3B HR RBI BB K HBP SF SH SB CS
Alex Gordon .248 .326 .380 20.8% 8.0% 389 347 38 86 57 20 1 8 34 31 81 10 2 0 4 1
Whit Merrifield .294 .357 .455 17.1% 7.8% 720 650 110 191 122 45 8 15 61 56 123 10 3 1 21 4
Hunter Dozier .275 .358 .491 24.4% 10.1% 537 466 74 128 79 20 6 23 88 54 131 10 9 0 8 2
Jorge Soler .282 .368 .545 25.4% 11.6% 657 574 86 162 91 30 2 39 122 76 167 4 3 0 4 1
Bubba Starling .173 .233 .291 33.6% 6.6% 122 110 11 19 11 5 1 2 8 8 41 1 1 2 4 1
Nick Heath .231 .311 .364 32.4% 8.8% 136 121 14 28 16 9 2 1 11 12 44 2 0 1 9 0
Khalil Lee .265 .339 .425 31.6% 8.4% 225 200 26 53 33 12 4 4 22 19 71 4 1 1 14 2

The starting outfield at the start of the year is pretty darn solid in two spots. Hunter Dozier and Whit Merrifield will spend some time on the infield and Dozier on the IL, but they’re mostly utilized in the outfield here and put together very solid seasons. And Jorge Soler just keeps on keepin’ on with a whole lot of power. Alex Gordon is fine in his final season, but not good enough to hold off Khalil Lee late in the year who shows plus defense, a little extra base pop and a bunch of speed. When he comes up, he pushes Whit to left field and plays center mostly. Dozier’s IL stint opens up some time for Heath to play center and push Lee to right field, so it’s a bit of a revolving door. You might notice no Brett Phillips here, and that’s sadly not an oversight. The POMA projections just don’t see it happening. All in all, the outfield is a definite bright spot for the team in 2020.

There are some other offensive performers throughout the season, but POMA doesn’t like to single out the smaller PA and pitcher plate appearances throughout the season. But it does project a robust .114/.131/.161 line for those additional 200 or so plate appearances. Woof indeed.

Pitching Staff as a Whole

G GS W L IP ERA K% BB% K/9 BB/9 R ER H K BB BF
G GS W L IP ERA K% BB% K/9 BB/9 R ER H K BB BF
689 162 65 97 1445 4.66 21.9% 8.6% 8.6 3.4 821 748 1462 1379 541 6291

The POMA projections see some legitimate progress on the pitching staff, led by two young starters. More strikeouts, fewer walks and a big time drop in ERA down to a closer to respectable 4.66. It’s not all amazing for the pitchers and the win-loss record isn’t what you’d call good or great or average or below average or even bad, but there’s certainly progress and that’s what matters, especially when it’s the young guys leading the way.

Starters

Pitcher G GS W L IP ERA K% BB% K/9 BB/9 R ER H K BB BF
Pitcher G GS W L IP ERA K% BB% K/9 BB/9 R ER H K BB BF
Jakob Junis 33 33 12 12 201 3.99 22.2% 6.8% 8.5 2.6 97 89 199 189 58 853
Brad Keller 31 31 9 11 183 3.98 18.5% 8.1% 6.9 3.0 89 81 166 141 62 764
Danny Duffy 26 26 8 7 151 4.35 21.4% 7.8% 8.2 3.0 80 73 149 137 50 641
Mike Montgomery 44 19 4 14 122 5.16 21.3% 6.5% 8.2 2.5 75 70 131 111 34 521
Foster Griffin 17 17 3 8 88 5.63 15.7% 11.1% 6.6 4.7 58 55 104 65 46 414
Brady Singer 16 16 7 4 93 3.68 22.4% 6.1% 8.5 2.3 44 38 89 88 24 392
Jackson Kowar 12 12 5 2 66 3.82 26.7% 7.7% 10.0 2.9 31 28 54 73 21 273

These seven are the main pitchers who see action in the rotation with a few others getting spot starts here and there. Overall, it’s not too shabby. POMA projects Foster Griffin to win the fifth starter job and ultimately lose it to Brady Singer, but he’ll continue to pick up starts on the I-29 shuttle when Danny Duffy misses a few starts in the middle of the year. Brad Keller continues his FIP-beating pitching with a few more strikeouts and a few fewer walks, but still not enough improvement to be concerned a top two or probably even three pitcher. The big news is obviously that POMA sees Singer and Kowar as above average starters from the get-go. Kowar flashes the strikeouts while both show good enough control to make it and limit hits pretty well. Mike Montgomery is probably the big disappointment here while Jakob Junis rebounds nicely from a very rough 2019 season.

Relievers

Pitcher G GS W L IP R ER H K BB BF ERA K% BB% K/9 BB/9
Pitcher G GS W L IP R ER H K BB BF ERA K% BB% K/9 BB/9
Ian Kennedy 71 0 1 3 73 26 25 53 91 19 291 3.08 31.3% 6.5% 11.2 2.3
Scott Barlow 63 0 3 5 71 32 29 54 91 31 298 3.68 30.5% 10.4% 11.5 3.9
Tim Hill 59 0 1 1 48 28 26 44 44 21 204 4.88 21.6% 10.3% 8.3 3.9
Others 58 0 0 4 54 58 55 78 23 35 275 9.17 8.4% 12.7% 3.8 5.8
Jorge Lopez 57 2 2 10 61 49 46 93 80 36 312 6.79 25.6% 11.5% 11.8 5.3
Glenn Sparkman 44 4 4 4 68 42 35 71 59 20 291 4.63 20.3% 6.9% 7.8 2.6
Trevor Rosenthal 38 0 1 4 29 26 22 33 37 18 141 6.83 26.2% 12.8% 11.5 5.6
Greg Holland 33 0 0 4 31 19 17 27 34 19 139 4.94 24.5% 13.7% 9.9 5.5
Daniel Tillo 31 0 2 1 34 15 12 23 39 13 138 3.18 28.3% 9.4% 10.3 3.4
Tyler Zuber 26 0 1 1 28 14 12 22 30 10 116 3.86 25.9% 8.6% 9.6 3.2
Chance Adams 20 2 2 2 31 22 19 49 39 16 158 5.52 24.7% 10.1% 11.3 4.6
Eric Skoglund 10 0 0 0 13 16 16 23 8 8 70 11.08 11.4% 11.4% 5.5 5.5

By the end of the year, POMA sees an above average to maybe even a good bullpen. Projections can’t predict trades, so Ian Kennedy gets a full season in Royals blue even if that isn’t likely if he’s putting up these numbers. But Scott Barlow continues to show he belongs and then is joined by Daniel Tillo and Tyler Zuber mid-season to replace a struggling Trevor Rosenthal and Greg Holland. Add in some solid middle relief work from Glenn Sparkman with numbers torpedoed by some bad starts and this is a bullpen that can go five or six deep, which is a welcome change from the past couple seasons. And, of course, there’s Eric Skoglund getting lit up because it’s not Royals baseball without that.

The Pythagorean Record for this group is a very nice 69-93, but you can see that they underperform by a touch to finish the year at 65-97 according to the POMA projections. But hey, a breakout here or there or an earlier turn to one of the young guys could turn this all on its head and lead to a 71 or even a 72-win season. Dare to dream.