David DeJesus led off the game today with a walk. That is itself isn’t all that interesting or noteworthy, but it got me thinking about the Royals leadoff situation as well as the general perception surrounding the 2009 seasons of DJ and Willie Bloomquist.
You might recall that before Crisp got hurt several people, myself included, were hopping mad that Trey Hillman insisted on hitting Coco leadoff instead of DeJesus. While both players’ career stats were screaming it should be the other way around, management stubbornly held their ground. It was not until Crisp was unavailable that DeJesus was finally reinserted at the top of the KC lineup. I thought today would be a good time to go back and check DJ’s stats to see how it was working out. The results are not surprising.
As the Royals leadoff hitter this season David is hitting 0.291/.371/.434 with 28 BB and only 31 SO in 278 plate appearances. In his career as the leadoff hitter he has hit 0.294/.366/.437 with 217 BB and 310 SO in 2,578 PA. You’ll notice those numbers are strikingly similar aside from the improved BB/SO. As a whole, including the dark “Crisp as leadoff hitter” days, David is hitting 0.265/.333/.413 this season. This is a drop from his 0.307/.366/.452 output in 2008, and because of the drop many people have been disappointed in DJ this season. It is worth mentioning that in 2007 he hit 0.260/.351/.372 which followed up his 2006 numbers of 0.295/.364/.446.
What all of this tells us is that the people who expected him to replicate his 2008 level of production during the 2009 season were bound to be let down. It was a logical expectation that his overall numbers would regress closer to his career line of 0.284/.336/.421, but David’s “poor” season has been augmented by improper usage of his talents for 47 of his 109 starts this year.
Still his 2009 should not be viewed as a disappointment. DJ has a career OPS+ of 104 and this season it’s currently at 98. He is on pace to set a career high in 3B and has a chance to reach new career highs in HR and RBI, the latter of which is especially impressive considering who generally hits at the bottom of the Royals order. He is also on pace to finish the season with more 2B in a season since 2006 when he put up his career high of 36. When all is said and done, DJ will turn in another year of production with an OPS+ right around 100. Defensively he has been pretty solid in the field. Though watching him play LF, especially early on in the season, has been a bit of an adventure, he almost always makes the plays in the end.
While the perception is that DeJesus is having a substandard season, people perceive that Willie Bloomquist is having a “good” season. Sure, Wee Willie has already set new career highs in; R, 3B, HR, RBI, SB, SO and TB, but he has done so in large part by collecting more plate appearances 341 this season than his previous career high of 283 PA in 2006. His 0.356 SLG is above his career mark of 0.330 but his 0.257 BA and 0.302 OBP are below his respective career marks of 0.262 and 0.318. The end result of all this extra playing time is an OPS+ of just 75 which is just a tick above his career OPS+ of 74. All the extra playing time cannot change they fact that Willie has been a below average ML player every season of his career including 2009. The fact that he plays hard and is willing to play anywhere the team asks him to is admirable. Willie has a lot of valuable traits that make up a quality bench player. Unfortunately for the Royals he has been pressed into almost everyday service playing in 92 of 116 games.
Willie is batting 2nd today and has collected 253 of his 341 PA from that spot in the lineup this year. He has hit 0.262/0.299/.376 as the 2 hitter in the lineup. Statistics suggest that he should probably be hitting 8th or 9th when he does play, but the numbers are not that significant and Trey is working with very limited options. The 2 slot is by far Alberto Callaspo’s worst spot in the lineup. Mark Teahen has yet to hit 2nd this season, and while I think he could be a solid 2 hitter, the fact that he has hit 0.407/.460/.571 while hitting 5th this season as well as hit career numbers suggest he should hit in that spot everyday that he is in the lineup.
It is somewhat surprising, but the Royals have solid ML average or better players in their lineup hitting 1st, 3rd, and 5th when those spots are occupied by DeJesus, Butler, and Teahen. Callaspo has hit well in his career hitting anywhere from 5th-8th, though 7th is where he has had his greatest success, but his fielding prowess leaves a lot to be desired. The big problem with the Royals lineup, and this isn’t breaking news, boils down to 2 spots; 2nd and 4th. Willie Bloomquist is just not good enough to get the job done hitting 2nd, but he is the best option the team has right now and for this team is appropriately cast there. The cleanup spot has no legitimate options, and today we are being treated to the 4 hole stylings of Mike Jacobs.
To close out the topics on Willie and David, I realize that people’s current perceptions have been at least partially defined by their expectations heading into the season. Most fans expected DeJesus to improve upon his 2008 performance or, at the very least, maintain it. On the flip side no one really expected much of anything from Bloomquist. Because of this when DJ started to heat up people simply looked at it and said “it’s about time.” When Willie hit his 4th HR of the year fans got excited, as much as possible considering how the team’s 2009 has gone, and completely ignored the 0.302 OBP and his dreadful offensive performance in May, June, and August. I understand where people are coming from, but perception does not equal reality. As an aside, the saying that perception equals reality is one of my least favorite of all time and when someone breaks it out a part of me gets a little angry. We all have our pet peeves I suppose.
Speaking of pet peeves and irritating things, at the start of the broadcast Ryan was discussing the orientation of Comerica Park and mentioned that even “the broadcasters have a hard time seeing the ball,” a perfectly fine and legitimate observation. Then Frank laughed his typical annoying and terribly misplaced laugh. I have had enough. Why does Frank insist on laughing at what Ryan says? Ryan is not remotely funny, and most of the time isn’t trying to be funny. Still, Frank is laughing. I don’t know why and it makes watching Royals games even more painful than they already are. He seems like an intelligent guy so I just don’t get it. My assumption at the start of the season was that it was a nervous laugh and that he was uncomfortable doing the games with Ryan. Now that we are past 110 games, I have to assume that is not the reason, but I have no better explanation. All I know is that it is driving me nuts.
Oh god, he’s laughing again. He just won’t stop … somebody please offer him a managerial position so I don’t have to worry about dealing with this again next year.