September 20, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals center fielder Jarrod Dyson (1) and team mates celebrate with first baseman Eric Hosmer (35) after the game against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals won the game 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Positional Power Rankings Reaction

I highly recommend going over to Fangraphs and checking out this piece, and all of the individual articles it was built from.  They ranked each team on each position based on their projections from Steamer and ZIPS along with playing time guesses by the various Fangraphs authors.  The article I linked is the composite of all the positions, and it, along with some things that have recently occurred, have made me even a little more optimistic about the season (which starts in only 4 days!).

The rankings for the Royals are mostly fair, but before I discuss where I think they are off I want to talk about the win projection.  In the end this system has a projection of 80 wins for the Royals.  This is exactly what I predicted in the Kings of Kauffman prediction article earlier this week.  You would think having projections systems along with some good writers over at Fangraphs agree with me would lead to a greater confidence in my original prediction, but that is not the case.

There are a couple of things that I disagree with a little, but can’t argue too much with, in that I think projections are a little low on Alex Gordon and Billy Butler.  These don’t change my mind though, since I think the optimism on Salvador Perez is probably a little too high.  Where this really affected my thinking was in two spots, right field and starting pitching.  The right field WAR is calculated with Jeff Francoeur receiving 630 plate appearances at a total WAR of 0.4, and that is almost surely not going to happen.  If Francoeur is bad then the platooning being discussed will likely become a reality quickly in some form, either acquisition, David Lough coming up, or Jarrod Dyson playing more in center with Lorenzo Cain moving over to play right.  The only other option is that Frenchy does get a full season of PAs, and that will likely only happen if he is producing at a better clip than 0.4 WAR per season.  It would surprise me a lot of the Royals don’t get better production out of right than is being predicted by Fangraphs, so that should add a win.  Possibly more, but I’ll call it one.

The second part, starting pitching, will likely be an even bigger deal.  Here are their projections:

James Shields 221.0 7.8 2.4 1.0 .311 72.1 % 3.82 3.60 4.4
Jeremy Guthrie 180.0 5.3 2.6 1.2 .301 70.1 % 4.54 4.59 1.5
Ervin Santana 182.0 6.6 3.1 1.3 .302 70.0 % 4.65 4.60 1.5
Wade Davis 162.0 6.9 3.4 1.1 .301 71.9 % 4.37 4.42 1.7
Bruce Chen 81.0 6.2 2.7 1.3 .303 70.0 % 4.71 4.62 0.7
Luis Mendoza 40.0 5.0 3.3 0.9 .308 68.9 % 4.66 4.54 0.4
Will Smith 48.0 5.4 3.2 1.1 .304 68.8 % 4.77 4.55 0.4
Danny Duffy 18.0 8.2 4.1 1.1 .307 72.1 % 4.33 4.26 0.2
Felipe Paulino 19.0 8.2 3.6 1.0 .316 71.8 % 4.21 3.95 0.3
Total 951.0 6.6 2.9 1.1 .304 70.8 % 4.39 4.32 11.0

They have James Shieldsat 4.4 WAR, which is fair and possibly even a little too high sinc

e 4.5 is his career high even if his ERA and FIP could end up better than what is shown.  I would be shocked if Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin Santana, and Wade Davis all end up in the four and half ERA/FIP range, and that is the first part of my disagreement.  Obviously, since they did this things have changed too.  Luis Mendoza is now the number five starter, and will not be getting 40IP.  He will be an upgrade over Bruce Chen, which is why everyone has been hoping for Mendoza to get the spot and the Royals evidently agree as well.  My guess is that this staff will end up with another 2+ wins worth of value at the least.  Especially when I look at rotations like the Rockies getting a better projection.  Jeff Francis got projected at 2 WAR, and I would rather have anyone in the Royals staff, and Jon Garland got 1.4 WAR in projection in 90 IPs which is just plain crazy.  The only way that rotation is better is if guys like Drew Pomeranz bump Garland out of the rotation.

Just adding Mendoza and making it clear that the Francoeur is not going to be given much leash has made this Royals team better than I, and Fangraphs, originally thought a couple of weeks ago.  That is probably another 3 or 4 wins, which is starting to push the Royals toward an expectation of contention.  If they can move into the mid-80s for wins, then I think we are in for a fun September.  Sure, Detroit was projected as the best team in this same article at 94 wins, but Detroit has failed to live up to their hype a couple of times in the past few years.  Monday cannot get here fast enough.

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Tags: AL Central Alex Gordon Baseball Billy Butler Bruce Chen Danny Duffy Jeff Francoeur Kansas City Kansas City Royals KC KC Royals Lorenzo Cain MLB Royals Salvador Perez

  • jimfetterolf

    Agree with your process and think that Detroit at 94 is too high, as the Indians and Royals are both improved and may cost the Tigers a few wins as one-run games swing the other way. Eighty-eight wins could take the division.

    If I had to pick a number rather than a range, I’ld call the Royals at 85 with a top of 90 if everyone stays healthy and has a career year, 80 if we have a repeat of the injuries and under achievement by Hoz, Frenchy, Moose, and 2B. Agree that if Francoeur gets 600 PAs he’s having a good year, just because it’s easy to put Dyson in against righties now that he’s started to prove himself.

    For the Royals it all gets down to the offense. The above projections show a 4.50 or so ERA, three runs in six innings, feeding to a bullpen that will give up one run in three innings, so Cain, Moose, and Salvy healthy and Hosmer not a complete embarrassment should generate more than four runs per game.

    • Michael Engel

      I’d also make note that the Tigers had 88 wins last year in a year where they’d underperformed, but start 2013 with Anibal Sanchez in the rotation, have a healthy (or at least an active) Victor Martinez, and replaced Delmon Young with Torii Hunter. If they’re under 90 wins again I’ll be shocked.

      Closer situation stinks but that’s easily fixed with one reliever getting hot and sticking in the job. That’s their only big weakness short of an injury to their 3-4 MVP caliber guys.

      Frustrating, but I’d be more than happy to be wrong on all that and to be shocked.

      • jimfetterolf

        On paper the Tigers look good, they could waltz, Justin Verlander’s pitch count could catch up to him. My hunch is 88 wins takes it and it will be three or four teams contending ’til the last week or two and the winner earning it in head-to-head competition at the end. Royals could have 85 wins and finish fourth :)

      • jimfetterolf

        I would also note that the Tigers fed on weak Royals and Indians teams last year, a situation unlikely to repeat. 88 and 90, there we are.

        • Michael Engel

          Tigers 13-5 against KC (fair enough point there)

          But Tigers 8-10 against Cleveland last year.

          I just think that yes, Cleveland and KC got better, but so did Detroit.

          They won 12 against Chicago and 10 against Minnesota, so they basically whipped up inside the division. There’s enough variance here that we’re talking about a couple games either way anyhow.

    • Brian Henry

      If they don’t top 4 runs a game this year’s main discussions will center around the heads of Yost and Moore.

  • hemroid

    I think that Francouer has a longer “leash” that the fans may think. He is a “favorite” of Moore and perhaps Yost too. He will probably get at least through May to define his season before any considerations are made to make a permanent change. However, I think Frenchy will more closely resemble 2011 and not 2012. Projections for Frenchy averaged from 11 different Roto and Fantasy sites would give him .245 BA, 14 HRs, 66 RBIs. If he does that he will get 600 ABs, no doubt.