by John Unrein
The Kansas City Royals are mired in a losing season. It’s hard to hear a conversation or read a story about the team that doesn’t involve the word “rebuild.” Prognosticators are projecting when the trove of young arms within the organization is going to reach the major leagues. Names like Singer, Lynch, Kowar, and Bubic. Most of the names just mentioned, who were high recent draft picks, have an estimated time of arrival of 2020 or 2021 for the big leagues.
This means the team’s window to compete again could be approaching faster than one may realize. Expediting this process would be the Royals ability to draft or sign and develop position players within the organization who are contributing steadily at the Major League level.
It has not been uncommon for Royals Manager Ned Yost to send a lineup card to home plate with eight of the nine spots filled in with homegrown talent. Rounding out the eight would be Whit Merrifield, Aldaberto Mondesi, Alex Gordon, Hunter Dozier, Cheslor Cuthbert, Nicky Lopez, Bubba Starling, and Cam Gallagher. That means every position on the field is filled with someone who originated within the organization. This is not as common of a feat as one might think within baseball or any professional sport for that matter.
The ninth player rounding out the lineup would be Jorge Soler in the Designated Hitter spot. He’s on pace to have a 40-home run season after coming over from the Chicago Cubs for Wade Davis in a December 2016 trade. All of this highlights an important fact. General Manager Dayton Moore, Royals scouts, and the player development department are identifying and fostering the growth of talent.
This allows an organization to be self sufficient in producing a lineup with a slighter payroll as a small market team. You don’t have to spend an abundance of money in free agency if you don’t have consistent holes to fill in your lineup. Furthermore, you know what you are likely to get from the players you developed having watched them grow up within your farm system.
A statistic that’s used frequently to measure how successfully you are contributing to your team is Wins Above Replacement or WAR. Pro Baseball Reference defines WAR as a “non-standardized baseball statistic developed to sum up a players total contribution to his team. A players WAR value is claimed to be the number of additional wins his team achieved above the number of expected wins if that player were substituted with a replacement level player.” Wins Above Replacement is a statistic that tries to get the value of a player down to one number if you will.
The Kansas City Royals WAR for the week of July 15th may be found at the end of this article for their starting lineup per Pro Baseball Reference. This only includes position players and not their pitching staff. The team is not out of reach of competing to win the American League Central Division again in the coming years. A lot will depend on the talent accumulated and developed in the starting pitching rotation and bullpen. The Royals are on their way again to having that homegrown feel like they did during the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Whit Merrifield WAR: 2.6
Aldaberto Mondesi WAR: 2.1
Alex Gordon WAR: 1.3
Hunter Dozier WAR: 1.8
Cheslor Cuthbert WAR: 0.0
Nicky Lopez WAR: 0.3
Bubba Starling WAR: -0.1
Cam Gallagher WAR: -0.5
Jorge Soler WAR: 0.5