What if, career years, and 25-man roster prediction


The other day I was thinking about players having career years and I started to wonder what the numbers would look like if every single player on the Royals 25-man roster matched their career best season during 2010.  That led directly into the question, how would their team stats match up compared to the rest of the AL or more specifically the AL Central.  This article is the result of that question and the subsequent research I did.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I had no earthly idea how this would turn out when I started putting together the numbers.  My initial assumption was that the Royals would fare well.  We are talking about each player’s career seasons after all.  Since it is the Royals we are talking about I also assumed that they would still fall short in a number of categories.

The Methodology and Tough Decisions:

I selected the best full season from each player on my projected opening day roster.  In trying to put together my 25-man roster, I realized that the Royals are going to have to make a number of very tough decisions.  For the purposes of this exercise I am concerned with how they would perform as a team over the entire 2010 season if each player replicated the best season on their existing major league resume.  In picking my roster, I made the basic assumption that none of the players considered would open the season on the DL.

When it comes to the position players, there were three decisions I had to make to round out the bench.

First, I kept Mitch Maier over Brian N. Anderson as the 4th outfielder.  My own personal feelings aside* both players are getting equal playing time thus far in the spring and Maier is decidedly winning the battle between the two.  The other factor in this decision was that Anderson has an option remaining while Maier doesn’t.  In the end this one really wasn’t a tough call considering what the two players have shown thus far in Surprise.

*Mitch Maier is a better player than Brian Anderson.

Second, Willie Bloomquist doesn’t make the team and gets released.  With a healthy Mike Aviles and Alberto Callaspo on the bench, there just isn’t room for Wee Willie.  Even if we factor in that Alex Gordon will probably start the season on the 15-day DL, I still don’t see how the Royals can keep Bloomquist.

Third, Josh Fields gets put on waivers and the Royals cross their fingers that no one claims him before they can get him to Triple-A Omaha.  In reality, Fields will most likely make the team because of Gordon’s probable DL stint, but his days with the team may be numbered unless someone else is cut or traded.

Before moving on to the pitching staff, I think it is important to recognize that the above shows some progress in terms of adding talent at the major league level.  Last season there was no question that Wee Willie B had a spot on the opening day roster.  Heading into 2010, I don’t see how the organization can justify keeping him around if they are trying to win and field the best team based on the options at hand.  This is a sign of minor progress in my book, but it is progress nonetheless.

To round out the pitching staff, a few decisions had to be made with regard to the final bullpen spots, but the rotation and part of the bullpen was pretty easy to put into place.  The 5th spot in the rotation remains up for grabs between Kyle Davies and Robinson Tejeda, but regardless of who claims the spot by opening day there is little doubt in my mind that the “loser” will wind up in the bullpen and will make some starts during the season.

[Update]  Kyle Davies got destroyed again on Sunday.  I am still holding out hope that he has a bright future, but his spring training performance is making it very hard to maintain my position.  Spring numbers mean next to nothing but Davies is looking more and more like he is bullpen bound.

First, Carlos Rosa heads back to Triple-A Omaha, at least to start the year.  This move is based on the working assumption that Rosa has a fourth option to use as Bob Dutton reported back on February 17th.  If this is incorrect, then he stays on the roster and Roman Colon, who is definitely out of options, gets the boot.

Second, Victor Marte joins Rosa in the Triple-A bullpen.  Again referring to Dutton’s options chart, it appears that Marte has all three of his options remaining.  I’m not sure Victor has much long term value to the Royals, but they don’t have to get rid of him so they may as well keep him around.

Third, all of the pitchers who received minor league deals fail to make the team.  This one isn’t much of a stretch though RHP-Josh Rupe has been one of the more impressive bullpen options thus far this spring.

A Reason For Hope?

As you look at the list that follows, you will notice that a majority of the players on my 25-man roster had their best season in either 2008 or 2009.  I’m not sure if this is a reason for hope or not.  It is also worth pointing out that Jose Guillen, Scott Podsednik, and Jason Kendall are the only position players who have close to a zero percent chance of having a career season.  The rest of the ten offensive players very well could perform at a higher level in 2010 than they have at any prior season.

~~~~~

The Position Players:

Catcher:  Jason Kendall (1998)
First Base:  Billy Butler (2009)
Second Base:  Chris Getz (2009)
Third Base:  Alex Gordon (2008)
Shortstop:  Yuniesky Betancourt (2007)
Left Field:  Scott Podsednik (2003)
Center Field:  Rick Ankiel (2008)
Right Field:  David DeJesus (2008)
Designated Hitter:  Jose Guillen (2003)
Bench C:  Brayan Pena (2009)
Bench 2B/3B:  Alberto Callaspo (2009)
Bench 2B/SS:  Mike Aviles (2008)
Bench OF:  Mitch Maier (2009)

~~~~~

The Pitching Staff:

Starter #1:  RHP-Zack Greinke (2009)
Starter #2:  RHP-Gil Meche (2007)
Starter #3:  RHP-Brian Bannister (2007)
Starter #4:  RHP-Luke Hochevar (2009)
Starter #5:  RHP-Kyle Davies (2008)
Reliever:  RHP-Robinson Tejeda (2009)
Reliever:  RHP-Kyle Farnsworth (2001)
Reliever:  RHP-Juan Cruz (2008)
Reliever:  RHP-Roman Colon (2009)
Reliever:  LHP-Dusty Hughes (2009)
Reliever:  LHP-Edgar Osuna (2009)
Closer:  RHP-Joakim Soria (2008)

While we are on the topic of pitching I should point out that I went ahead and used Hochevar’s 2009 season instead of his 2008.  While 2009 was worse in terms of ERA+, he did drop his BB/9 and increase his SO/9 and obviously his SO/BB.  His H/9 increased from 10.0 to 10.5 which caused his WHIP to jump just a bit from 1.47 to 1.49.  Hoch’s big downfall in 2009 was the jump in his HR/9 which went from 0.8 to 1.4.

~~~~~

So if each and every player on the above listed 25-man roster managed to duplicate their career-best seasons in 2010, how would they stack up against the 2009 AL average and the 2009 AL Central leader in each category?

I calculated the data based on my 25-man roster and realized that I needed to adjust the scale of the Royals team.  In 2009 the AL average for team at bats was 5,569 and the AL Central high was 5,641.  My Royals roster came in a 6,022 so I recalculated the offensive totals for Kansas City based on 5,600 at bats.  On the pitching side, my Royals staff threw 1,282.67 innings while the AL average was 1,444 and the AL Central high was 1,459.  The only stat I had to adjust was runs allowed and did so based off the AL average innings mark.

Let’s start with the Royals, each at their best (RCY), against the 2009 AL average team (09 ALAv):

RCY 09 ALAv
BA 0.294 0.267
OBP 0.355 0.336
SLG 0.454 0.428
AB 5,600 5,569
Runs 822 781
2B 348 295
3B 42 28
HR 155 183
SB 132 110
BB 477 550
SO 870 1094
RCY 09 ALAv
ERA 3.63 4.68
R 635 771
WHIP 1.25 1.39
H/9 8.2 9.2
BB/9 3.0 3.3
SO/9 7.6 6.6
SO/BB 2.53 2.00

The above shows the Royals coming out ahead in almost every category.  They fail to best the AL average in only two places and they are the categories any fan would probably guess right off the bat given the players that make up the roster.  Not only do they fall short in the HR category relative to the league average, they fall 28 short.  Last year Kansas City finished second to last in the AL with 144, using their total of 155 based on the above they would have finished … second to last in the AL.  When it comes to drawing walks the real 2009 Royals generated 457 BB good for another second to last finish.  Using their career years would cause them to rise just one spot to finish 12th last year instead of 13th.  The 822 runs scored by this career year roster would tie them for the 5th best season, with the 1977 team, in franchise history.  In 2009 their run total would have placed them 4th in the AL, five runs ahead of the Minnesota Twins.

The Royals offense, even based on career years, still wouldn’t dominate compared to the other AL team in 2009.  The pitching staff is an entirely different story.  The team finished 2009 with 842 runs allowed which was good for a 12th place finish out of the 14 AL teams.  Using their career years, their 635 runs allowed would rank them first in the AL by a whopping 57 runs.  Runs scored was just one of the categories in which they would have led the American League.  They would fail to finish first in BB/9 and SO/9.  Their 3.0 BB/9 team mark would fall just shy of besting the Minnesota Twins 2009 mark of 2.9.  The Royals 7.6 SO/9 would finish 3rd in the AL behind the Yankees 7.8 and Red Sox 7.7.

We’ve looked at the career year Royals in relation to the AL averages, so now lets take a look at how they stack up against the best AL Central finisher in each category.

RCY 09 ALCL
BA 0.294 0.274
OBP 0.355 0.345
SLG 0.454 0.429
AB 5,600 5,608
Runs 822 817
2B 348 314
3B 42 51
HR 155 184
SB 132 113
BB 477 585
SO 870 1021
RCY 09 ALCL
ERA 3.63 4.14
R 635 732
WHIP 1.25 1.35
H/9 8.2 9.0
BB/9 3.0 2.9
SO/9 7.6 7.3
SO/BB 2.53 2.26

It should be pointed out that the AL Central leader in 3B and SO/9 was in fact the Royals.

In addition to looking at the Royals production if each of their players matched their career best seasons, I thought it would also be interesting to look at how the numbers would compare if we used their career numbers based on a 162 game average (RC162a).

RCY RC162a
BA 0.294 0.273
OBP 0.355 0.331
SLG 0.454 0.401
AB 5,600 5,600
Runs 822 743
2B 348 304
3B 42 42
HR 155 115
SB 132 125
BB 477 434
SO 870 886
RCY RC162a
ERA 3.63 4.66
R 635 814
WHIP 1.25 1.41
H/9 8.2 9.0
BB/9 3.0 3.7
SO/9 7.6 7.1
SO/BB 2.53 1.94

With that comparison made, we can now put all the columns together.

RCY RC162a 09 ALCL 09 ALAv
BA 0.294 0.273 0.274 0.267
OBP 0.355 0.331 0.345 0.336
SLG 0.454 0.401 0.429 0.428
AB 5,600 5,600 5,608 5,569
Runs 822 743 817 781
2B 348 304 314 295
3B 42 42 51 28
HR 155 115 184 183
SB 132 125 113 110
BB 477 434 585 550
SO 870 886 1021 1094
RCY RC162a 09 ALCL 09 ALAv
ERA 3.63 4.66 4.14 4.68
R 635 814 732 771
WHIP 1.25 1.41 1.35 1.39
H/9 8.2 9.0 9.0 9.2
BB/9 3.0 3.7 2.9 3.3
SO/9 7.6 7.1 7.3 6.6
SO/BB 2.53 1.94 2.26 2.00

The above fails to consider defensive statistics all together, but it does give us a range of how productive and effective the Royals 25-man roster will be over the course of the 2010 season.  If they all collectively match their career best seasons, the Royals will be one of the best teams in the AL with a pitching staff that is off the charts with a productive offense to back it up.  The current roster is going to be well below average when it comes to home runs no matter how you slice it, but if each player matches their career best season the Kansas City Royals will be the 2010 AL Central division champions.  This is, of course, the best case scenario.

If the Royals match their career stat line when putting their career numbers into 162 game average, the picture gets a little less rosy.  In this light the offense would finish above the AL average in 5 of the 10 offensive categories and below the AL average in the other 5.  The pitching staff would be above average in 3 of the 7 categories and below average in the other 4, but the numbers are close.  I don’t know if this team could win the AL Central, but it would certainly be competitive and probably give us another season like 2003.

I don’t think were are going to see this team match their collective career averages, let alone collectively have career years.  However, this does provide a scenario, however unrealistic it is, that uses the current roster and winds up with a competitive Kansas City Royals team for 2010.  I’m still predicting a last place finish, but a little positive thought never hurts!

(Wally Fish is the lead blogger for Kings of Kauffman and FanSided’s MLB Director.  Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)

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Tags: AL Central Alberto Callaspo Alex Gordon Baseball Billy Butler Brayan Pena Brian Bannister Chris Getz David DeJesus Dusty Hughes Edgar Osuna Gil Meche Jason Kendall Joakim Soria Jose Guillen Juan Cruz Kansas City Royals KC Kyle Davies Kyle Farnsworth Luke Hochevar Mike Aviles Mitch Maier MLB Rick Ankiel Robinson Tejeda Roman Colon Royals Scott Podsednik Yuniesky Betancourt Zack Greinke