With the Major League Baseball season inching ever closer towards the All-Star break, now is as good a time as any to debut the official Royals All-Star Power Rankings.
From now until the All-Star selections are announced later this summer, I’ll be subjectively breaking down the five Royals each week who I think have the best shot to make the team, based both on the previous week’s performance as well as what can reasonably expected moving forward.
All cited statistics are valid through Tuesday, May 15th’s ridiculously surprising victory over the Texas Rangers. You know, the one that was won by Vin Mazzaro, secured a series sweep over the best team in the AL, and brought the Royals record to 15-20.
2012 Kansas City Royals All-Star Power Rankings
1. Mike Moustakas – In an article posted a couple of weeks ago, I downplayed Moustakas’ chances of making the All-Star game because of the high-priced talent at his position. But in the time since that sage opinion hit the interwebs, a couple of things have broken in his favor.
One, Evan Longoria suffered a hip injury, taking him out of consideration for a spot if he isn’t voted in by the fans. Considering the fact that
Longoria was hitting .329/.433/.561 with four home runs and 19 RBI’s when he last played (on April 30th), it’s safe to say that Moustakas’ candidacy has been bolstered.
Longoria could, however, still be voted in by the fans, and perennial All-Stars Adrian Beltre and Miguel Cabrera are also on the ballot as third basemen. So Moustakas in by no means a shoe-in. But the Royals third baseman is currently putting up a better line, .310/.371/.540, than any other eligible third baseman (sans Longoria) in the American League.
The second benefit for Moustakas is the way he is breaking away from the rest of the Royals offensively. Aside from newly promoted Irving Falu, Billy Butler is the only other Royal with an OPS over .800, and he still lags fifty points behind Moustakas. If he continues to keep his stat line above those of Cabrera, Beltre, and Alex Rodriguez, it will be hard to pick a different Royal for the big game in Kansas City this summer.
2. Alcides Escobar - I’ve stated Escobar’s case here before, and he continues to stake his claim for one the American League shortstop spots in the All-Star game. Escobar has put together several defensive highlights over the past week, including this incredible web gem on a play he made in short left field.
Escobar’s bat has held up admirably as well. Heading into Wednesday, he has compiled a line of .287/.320/.426, good for fourth among AL shortstop qualifiers with a .746 OPS.
So why, might you ask, do I now view Moustakas as a more viable All-Star?
It has to do with the competition each player faces. While the injury to Evan Longoria has opened things up for Moustakas, strong offensive streaks from Texas’ Elvis Andrus and Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera have hurt Escobar’s chance to make the cut. Remember that Derek Jeter is having a resurgent season, and even if he wasn’t, would be an almost certain selection by the fans anyway.
Simply put, there is more firepower for Escobar to compete with at the moment than for Moustakas. That makes a difference.
3. Billy Butler – At this point, Butler is a longshot to be the Royals All-Star representative. Sporting a .288/.340/.489 line heading out of Texas on Tuesday, Butler is pretty firmly entrenched as the fourth best designated hitter in the American League behind David Ortiz, Adam Dunn, and Edwin Encarnacion all currently OPS’ing over .900.
Butler will need a vintage Butler-esque hot streak in order to get back into the mix, and while he is due for an offensive run, he’ll still be hard-pressed to make up the 150+ OPS points he currently needs to surpass Dunn or Ortiz.
One day, Butler will get his due, but he’ll need to show more consistency and/or ride a ridiculous hot stretch before he can be considered among the elite hitters in the American League. For now, he’ll likely have to settle for being one of the elite hitters on the Kansas City Royals.
4. Jonathan Broxton -Based off of his initial performances from early April, Royals fans may be hesitant to anoint Broxton as an All-Star caliber player. But even with that disastrous opening week blown save against Oakland, Broxton has put up a stellar campaign.
Those who watch every game may lament Broxton’s knack for getting himself in (and out of) trouble, but I’m fairly certain that AL manager Ron Washington doesn’t watch the first year Royals closer pitch every day. What Washington might notice, however, is that Broxton currently ranks third among AL closers with a 1.32 ERA and fourth in the league with eight saves.
If Washington is put in a position to take Texas’ Adrian Beltre over Moustakas, Broxton may be the guy he looks at to fill the obligatory Royals spot on the American League Roster.
5. Alex Gordon – To be honest, not too many Royals have distinguished themselves as reasonable candidates for the fifth and final spot on this list. But as I mentioned at the top of this post, one of the factors that will go into these rankings is expected future results.
Gordon has as much room for growth as anyone on the team besides Eric Hosmer, except he already owns a 150 point lead over Hosmer with his .729 OPS.
Gordon absolutely deserved the All-Star nod in 2011, so it would be poetic justice to see him make a meteoric rise to the top spot of these rankings.