Have you heard the one about the new Jonathan Broxton roller coaster ride at Worlds of Fun? Everyone who rides it gets WHIPlash! Get it? I know, not very funny, possibly because it hits too close to home for most Royals fans.
The Royals bullpen is supposed to be the strength of its pitching staff, and if you review almost any pitching statistic, you’ll find this is true. And who should be the cream of the crop in this group? The closer of course. The closer should dominate opposing batters, intimidating them into submission during the final inning of a game. While Broxton’s ERA has been solid, by almost every other measurement you’ll discover that he is teetering on the brink and in my opinion his luck may run out soon.
Of the Royals five most often used relief pitchers (including Aaron Crow, Jose Mijares, Kelvin Herrera, and Tim Collins) Broxton possesses the highest WHIP, the lowest strikeout ratio, and the most H/9 (hits per 9 innings.) This type of performance will eventually impact his luck-induced ERA performance and will result in runs scored, lots of them. When Broxton waddles to the mound, the only hearts he strikes fear into are in the pounding chests of nervous Royals fans.
Maybe this is a little bit shallow of me to say, but I prefer my team’s players at least have the appearance of athleticism and not wear pants that two teammates can fit inside. Broxton looks more like a reject from a Tommy Boy casting call than a professional baseball player. And I know it’s results that count, not appearance, but really… Broxton’s body is his tool, it’s what allows him to be a major league pitcher. If he was a serious athlete who truly wanted to excel, he’d drop 100 pounds and get himself in shape.
Broxton’s performance is like a locomotive whose wheels are coming off, but it just hasn’t jumped the track yet. He’s a train wreck waiting to happen.
I attended one of the recent interleague games in Houston and had a chance to watch Broxton and the other pitchers take a few swings in the batting cage during pregame warmups. There was a lot of discussion about a few balls that Broxton sent into the left field seats and off the outfield wall. It was a pretty impressive display – for a pitcher. But I still don’t think any of the fans who were oohing and aahing at his hitting prowess were excited at the prospect of watching Broxton and his lifetime .000 batting average step into the box. Can you imagine Jonathan hitting a ground ball to the shortstop and trying to “leg it out.” The mental image is jarring.
The good news is that there is a solution to this problem. I recommend the Royals point to Broxton’s stellar ERA, his track record as an All-Star closer, package him with Jeff Francoeur (sorry Frenchy, I love ya, but you have to go – #FreeWil) and try to get something, anything, in return before they both implode and lose all their value.
Dayton Moore should take some time out during the All-Star festivities, visit with his General Manager buddies that attend the game, and find a new home for both of these guys. Frenchy has value as a clubhouse leader & goodwill ambassador, and Broxton could potentially be a decent 7th inning guy – that has to be worth something.
The time is now Dayton. Find a deal, pull the trigger, cut our losses before Broxton and Frenchy lose their value, and let’s move forward to the future with Aaron Crow or Kelvin Herrera as our closer.