After a series of not-terrible moves this off-season, the Kansas City Royals may find themselves as legitimate favorites for a playoff spot come October of 2014.
Since a lot of people who forgot KC had a baseball team will start to pay more attention to the kings of the midwest, I thought I might provide a public service and help identify who these fine fellows playing sport for your enjoyment (and massive paychecks) are.
I’ll be using the official 40-man roster as our guide, which can be found here.
Note: All posts will follow this general format:
Player Name (linking to the player page on Baseball-Reference.com)
2013 “Slash” line (Batting Average/On-Base Percentage/Slugging Average)
2013 OPS+ or ERA+ and career OPS+ or ERA+ (A full explanation of these stats can be found here and here.)
General gibberish from yours truly about what I find to be interesting about a guy and what might be expected from the player in 2014.
We’ll start things off with the guy who is constantly rumored to be traded, and who occupies a category all to himself, the Designated Hitter, Billy Butler.
116 / 122
While proving himself to be somewhat of a meme-legend for the Kansas City Royals—starting with his nickname (Country Breakfast) and continuing with his charity barbecue sauce (more below)—Billy had his worst season since 2008 and was STILL second on the team in OPS+ and first in on-base percentage.
The guy is a hitting machine, and his barbecue sauce would have been the single most compelling story of the 2013 season if the team had not been in the wild card hunt in September. (and, let’s be honest: they wouldn’t have been in contention without the sauce.)
Butler basically walked more and slugged less last year, hitting a ton of grounders for a guy slotted in the four hole. Going 2/1 on the ground ball to fly ball ration seems to be the outlier in his career, though, and over the last five years, his OPS+ has bounced from above-average to way-above-average: 125-134-125-138-116.
At 28, Billy is in his prime and as a DH, the injury risk is low. Also, while the research on lineup protection isn’t overwhelming, it can’t hurt to have somebody other than Lorenzo Cain or Mike Moustakas hitting behind him.
So, while I’m not going to predict Butler gets into a stolen base war with Jarrod Dyson, I feel comfortable betting on the big man to hit a few more balls from the top half of the barrel instead of the lower this year.