Yup, it’s our boy A.J. on the hill tonight. You feelin’ it?
I’m feelin’ it.
First of three for the Yanks in Kansas City.
The Royals entered this season with by far the best farm system in baseball and have since stocked their major league roster with prospects, including first baseman Eric Hosmer, second baseman Johnny Giavotella, third baseman Mike Moustakas, lefty starter Danny Duffy (who will pitch on Tuesday), and relievers Aaron Crow, Tim Collins, Louis Coleman, Greg Holland, Everett Teaford, and Rule 5 pick Nathan Adcock. Those players haven’t accomplished much more than getting their feet wet, however.
Moustakas has been awful. Hosmer has hit just .254/.317/.384 since June 8. Giavotella has been solid but has only been up for ten games. Duffy has just six quality starts in 15 turns. Crow, a curious choice for the team’s lone All-Star selection, has a 4.08 ERA and three blown saves in his last 16 outings. Tiny Tim Collins has walked 6.7 men per nine innings. Teaford has just one more strikeout than walk. Coleman and Holland have been excellent, but neither was considered among the cream of the farm system, and Adcock, who is in this discussion only by virtue of being a rookie, has a 5.23 ERA.
That said, the Royals do have a roughly league-average offense thanks to the unexpected performances of their outfielders, two of whom were roundly mocked when the Royals acquired them this offseason. Alex Gordon, who is finally fulfilling his potential at age 27 is actually one of the most valuable players in the league according to Baseball Prospectus’s WARP (Wins Above Replacement Player). Melky Cabrera is, at 26, having by far the best season of his career, hitting for unprecedented average and power. Jeff Francoeur is having his best season since his rookie year of 2005, thanks in part to a career-high walk rate and his best power performance since 2006. Add in Billy Butler’s typical not-great-but-good showing at DH, and the Royals have half of a solid major league offense.
Of course, that has been undermined by Joakim Soria going rotten, posting the worst save percentage among the 24 men with 20 or more saves this season, most recently collaborating with Crow to blow a 7-3 lead against the Rays last Wednesday. Put it all together, and the Royals have the third-worst record in baseball, which is an unfortunately familiar place despite all those new faces, and are 2-8 over their last ten games coming into this series
Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Eric Chavez 3B
Jorge Posada DH
Russell Martin C
Grab yer napkins and let us dream of K.C. bbq as we cheer:
Let’s Go Yank-ees!
[Photo Credit: Kevin’sbbqjoints.com]