One of the factors that I’d pointed out as vital to the Royals having success in 2013 was health. After a 2012 where they lost so much of their lineup to the disabled list, keeping players on the field was absolutely necessary.
Consider that this time last year, the Royals had already placed these players on the disabled list:
- 3/20/12: Salvador Perez (torn meniscus)
- 4/4/12: Felipe Paulino (sore right elbow)
- 4/4/12: Joakim Soria (Tommy John surgery)
- 4/4/12: Blake Wood (ulnar nerve irritation that ended up as Tommy John surgery)
- 4/12/12: Lorenzo Cain (strained groin that developed into hip flexor)
- 4/21/12: Greg Holland (rib stress reaction)
- 5/3/12: Yuniesky Betancourt (right ankle sprain)
- 5/9/12: Jonathan Sanchez (biceps tendinitis)
There goes your starting catcher, #4 starter, All-Star closer, average reliever, starting center fielder, setup man, “utility player”, and “#2 starter” all before the season was much more than a month old. Danny Duffy, Chris Getz and Everett Teaford would join that group on the DL before the end of May.
This year, the Royals disabled list consists of Duffy (who was shut down after a May 13 start) and Paulino (who hurt his groin in June, rehabbed, then found a torn UCL). That’s it.
The Royals have made one callup this year, twice bringing up Will Smith, and only bringing him up because of a day/night double header allowing the move. No demotions, no disabled list stints. The same 25 men from day one.
That allows the Royals to keep a regular pitching rotation (when the weather doesn’t intervene) and to keep the bullpen lined up in the roles they prefer. It allows them to get their regulars at bats and means they aren’t stuck playing someone out of position or hoping someone fills in adequately. Then, when the Royals need to shake up the lineup for a night, they have the full arsenal of players at their disposal. They can be flexible with all of the weapons they expected at the start of the year right there waiting to be called upon.
Over the course of the year, that will help a team put their best team out there every night without having to scrape something together. Just think of the rotation last year. Kansas City used 13 different starters over the course of the season. They used 46 total players. In 2011, they used 42 players, but most of those moves involved promoting prospects and sending down (or waiving) players who’d opened the year on the roster. Bruce Chen hit the DL, as did Matt Treanor and otherwise, there were no other significant injuries.
So far, so good for this year’s team as well.