Friday, July 17, 2009

First Half Report Cards: The Position Players

Since the second half of the season is already underway, let's get to the grades post-haste. The rules are the same as they were for the pitchers--the number after a player's name was my preseason rank of their importance to the Royals and each player is graded on my expectations for him coming into the season.

Willie Bloomquist (12): A-
Has been surprisingly productive and useful. I have no complaints and really wouldn't have minded if the Royals just used him at shortstop the rest of the year.

Billy Butler (2): A-
One of three regulars with an OPS+ over 100. The homer total (8) might not be as high as you'd like, but 27 doubles is really good (tied for fourth in the AL). And he's only 23, so there is a good chance those numbers will go up. Plus, he's proven to be a decent defensive first baseman.

Alberto Callaspo (11): A-
The silver lining in the black cloud of Alex Gordon's injury, which moved Teahen to third and opened a spot for Callaspo. The Royals' OPS+ leader at 113, Callaspo has displayed surprising power. Still doesn't walk much, but at least he doesn't strike out much, either. His defense hasn't been good, though.

Brayan Pena (13): A-
Should play more. Let's find out if he really can hit.

Mark Teahen (7): A-
Filled in well at third base after Alex Gordon went down. Quietly having a very solid season (111 OPS+). I like Teahen a lot, but it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if he were traded in the next couple of weeks; he should bring some sorely needed AAA or MLB-ready talent in return.

Miguel Olivo (9): C+
Why you would ever throw him anything but a slider in the dirt is beyond me, but somehow he leads the team in homers with 13. It's not his fault no one else here can hit homers. Still has an amazingly low three walks this year, which knocks his grade down some. Also, may be the only catcher in the majors who can't, you know, catch (8 passed balls this year, plus the Royals have 47 wild pitches this year).

Coco Crisp (3): C-
Started the season well, and then tailed off, although he was probably playing through the injuries that eventually ended his season. I still feel like trading for him was a good move, but since it's unlikely Crisp will be a Royal next year, I have to say Boston won that deal.

Jose Guillen (5): C-
I waffled between a C- and a D+ here. On the bright side, Guillen is walking more this season and has yet to have a public blowup, so I gave him a break on his grade. Besides, what if he somehow sees this?

Mike Jacobs (8): D+
I liked the trade that brought him here. I was wrong. Please forgive me, dear reader. Almost half the outs he's made this year have been by strikeout (82 0f 200). Seeing the 13 homers he's hit this year (counting tonight's) hasn't been worth all the terrible at-bats and crappy defense.

David DeJesus (4): D
What the heck happened here? His offensive numbers are down, and his defense seems to have fallen off some too. He's only 29, so he shouldn't be falling off this fast. I think DDJ will have a good second half and this season won't look so bad as a whole.

Mitch Maier (N/A): D
OK, I'm convinced. He can't hit.

Tony Pena (14): F-----
I had no expectations for TPJ, and he has met them. Sure, he was designated for assignment, but no one is going to pick him up. So he'll go to Omaha and bide his time, and soon enough Bloomquist or Betancourt will get hurt, and Pena will be back. Maybe we should call him Freddy or Jason.

Mike Aviles (6): Incomplete
Maybe I'm too nice here, but now that we know he was injured pretty much from the get-go, his miserable season makes more sense. This injury just killed the Royals, since it opened the door for a roster featuring Tony Pena Jr., Luis Hernandez AND Tug Hulett, and then led to one of the worst trades in Royals' history. Nobody expected Aviles to duplicate his 2008 numbers, but at the start of the season it looked like the Royals would at least be above-average at shortstop. Now, Royals shortstops have an OPS of .503 this season. Not slugging, OPS. Ugh.

John Buck: (10): Incomplete
90 at-bats just isn't enough to make a judgement, but I think we all know what to expect from Buck by now. I like Buck, but frankly I'd rather see Brayan Pena as the backup catcher. Or even the starter.

Alex Gordon (1): Incomplete
Alex's hip was probably the most damaging injury in the Royals' season, which has seen its share. At the beginning of the season, I felt any Royals offensive improvement depended on Gordon and Butler becoming major league-level three and four hitters. Butler has progressed pretty well, but this looks like a lost season for Gordon, who will not be able to play every day for a while even though he is off the DL to start the second half. On the other hand, maybe his injury rehab will prove beneficial, giving him a chance to remember he's got a lot of talent.

Ryan Freel (N/A): Incomplete
Hasn't done anything to make me dislike him yet.

Luis Hernandez (N/A): Incomplete
Eh. I guess he and TPJ were on the roster at the same time to prove they weren't the same person.

Tug Hulett (N/A): Incomplete
Who knows? We never saw enough of him to say. It was very important Hernandez and TPJ get to play more.

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