Welcome to Three Outs, the IHOP of Royals Review articles. Today, we’ll focus on Opening Day roster attention, draft season, and just heckin’ taking a rest now and again.
Out One: The Opening Day Roster is Overrated
Now that Spring Training has actually and officially begun, attention will turn from the standard offseason stories—who’s been working out where, who’s in the best shape of their life, excitement and hope for a new year of baseball—to the Opening Day roster. I’ve contributed to this, as you can hear in our most recent podcast. There are more pitchers in camp than there ever have been and there are at least a half dozen roster spots up for total grabs (more should the injury bug strike).
While it’s important to those involved whether or not they make the Opening Day roster, the importance only extends insofar as it represents an achievement for the players themselves. For the team, the Opening Day roster is just one roster out of 162 that must be fielded over the course of the season.
Consider this: in 2019, 51 players appeared for the Royals over the course of the season. That means that less than half the total number of players were on the active roster for the first game of the season. The position players with the sixth, ninth, and 11th-most played games in the season (Nicky Lopez, Cheslor Cuthbert, and Bubba Starling, respectively) weren’t on the Opening Day roster. Neither were the pitchers who threw the third, fourth, and eighth-most innings over the course of the season (Glenn Sparkman, Danny Duffy, and Mike Montgomery, respectively).
It is true that the core roster will be set by the time Spring Training ends. However, it’s also true that there will be significant roster shakeups over the course of the year. Those who don’t make the Opening Day roster will get their opportunities.
Out Two: Draft Season is Warming Up, Too
It’s not just professional baseball that’s getting started at the moment. Collegiate baseball and high school baseball are getting started, too, for their spring seasons. Many of these players will be entering the draft, and there will be many eyes on these young men as they try to increase their draft stock. Successfully increasing their draft stock also means increasing their signing bonus, a feat that could be hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in additional money.
The baseball draft is different than a lot of other drafts. In the NBA or NFL drafts, fans of the college game will recognize and be familiar with the top names, but this isn’t the case with the MLB draft. Your average baseball fan doesn’t tune in to watch Arizona State University or Stephen F. Austin State University play baseball, and they certainly don’t pay attention to American Heritage High School or Cotton Oaks High School despite their production of multiple notable professional ballplayers (and, yes, I made up Cotton Oaks and I guarantee you didn’t notice).
As a result, we don’t have a lot of choice but to lean on draft professionals and scouts to do a large part of the legwork for us. But if you’re into this sort of thing and like to read about it, this year is an exciting time because draft stock can and does change with performance. Royals fans are going to be paying close attention to this, as the performance of the consensus top five players—SS Austin Martin, RHP Emerson Hancock, 1B Spencer Torkelson, 2B Nick Gonzalez, and LHP Asa Lacey—will shape who is available at and who they should pick with the fourth overall selection.
Out Three: Slow Down
There are a lot of things you can do in this world. Too many, in fact, to do all of in one life. There’s media to consume, yes, but there are also hobbies to pursue, skills to develop, relationships to cultivate, places to go. Every moment spent doing one thing is a moment spent not doing something else.
As a result, I feel like it’s easy to trick ourselves into a nasty sort of mindset where not actively doing something, or not participating in a pre-planned activity, is a waste of time. This is so pervasive that it infects other activities by making us feel that if we can do something else, we should do something else. This is why you and I and lots of other people check Royals Review (or your other favorite website if we’re not good enough for you, I guess) on your phone whilst watching a show on Netflix. It’s also why it feels weird to simply sit down and listen to a new music album you’ve been looking forward to without doing anything else.
This go go go mindset contributes to mental and physical burnout, and I hate falling into it. Thankfully, I’m pretty good at focusing on myself—being a lazy introvert at heart certainly contributes—but not everyone is the same. So whether you struggle with this or not, just remember that slowing down and spend some time engaging in rest isn’t a failure to do something. It’s a thing in and of itself, and an important one at that.