This offense, barring catastrophic injury, should be better than last year’s by quite a bit. I just want to take a look at if things go mostly well what we can expect for runs scored. The answer is pretty good, possibly even in the top 10 of the major leagues.
Skip this if you don’t care about the mechanics of what I did. First I calculated OBP and SLUG for every player in the Royals lineup based on a composite (equally weighted) of the projections on their respective Fangraphs pages. Then I plugged the lineup Ned Yost has stated will be used in the coming year into Baseball Musings lineup analysis tool. It kicked out a total runs scored from that of 4.691 runs per game (760 runs), which is clearly overstated since the starters will not take every plate appearance and we expect a drop off in their spot when say Brett Hayes hits for Salvador Perez. Fangraphs has the Royals projected to score 4.22 runs per game (684 runs), so 90% of whatever the Baseball Musings tool kicks out. That 90% is what I use to bring the differences in runs from each performance down a bit to make up for the lineup shifting issues and is figured into the end result.
We are start from a baseline expectation of 4.22 runs per game from Fangraphs and then look at where the projections might be a little too light, then we can get a picture of what sort of upside the offense has. Let’s start with the most likely players to improve over expectation.
Billy Butler: Instead of his projection I plugged in the average of his last 5 years in the big leagues, now is OBP/SLG becomes .372/.469, which seems pretty fair and is nowhere near a career high in either. This is worth .0315 runs/game (90% of Baseball Musings output change assume this going forward) or a little over 5 runs.
Alex Gordon: I changed his output to an average of his last two seasons, so he ended up at .345/.441, again not exactly earth shattering and would surprise no one. This adds another .0036 runs per game (after resetting Billy to projections, again assume going forward) or a little over half a run. Moving him so far down the lineup hurts a little hear, and I hope he ends up in the second spot.
Next are the two growth candidates:
Eric Hosmer: Using my work I did in this post, I changed Hosmer to .365/.480 in line with my expectations of him. An OPS of .845 would generate another .036 runs per game (5.83 runs)
Salvador Perez: I left his projected on-base alone, but I bumped his slug back up to 2011 and 2012 levels (.472). This generated .0432 runs per game (7 runs) .
The I added the two worst performers of last year who almost have to be better. For the first he will be replaced if things aren’t better or at least platooned.
Mike Moustakas: For his rates I did an average of his first half 2012 and his expectations since has shown skill in the past and wanted it accounted for to see what would happen in a bounce back. The result of .318/.453 is still far from spectacular, but would be worth .0531 runs per game (8.6 runs).
Alcides Escobar: I didn’t want to assume he would bounce all the way back to 2012 levels so I just averaged his last two seasons to get .295/.345, and it is good for him that he is a good defensive player. This did add .0126 runs per game (2 runs) to the total.
The projections for Norichika Aoki, Omar Infante, and Lorenzo Cain I decided to leave alone. If we total up the other 6 it comes to .18 runs per game and pushes the offens to 4.4 runs per game total (712.8 runs) for a projection. This with just modest bounce-backs and growth. The true upside if Butler or Gordon had career years, Hosmer hit like the second half last year all season or better, or Moustakas figured things out could be much higher for only one break out.
Last year’s team scored 648 runs, and this team will need more than that to make the playoffs. A little improvement over expectation here puts them a 713 runs, which compared to team projections from Fangraphs would move them up to 7th in the big leagues. I don’t think any of the changes I looked at are outlandish, and I think a couple of the players will exceed even those modest bumps, but there will be some under-performance or injury to deal with at some point too. If things can go modestly better than expected, the Royals will be right there with Detroit (projected at 4.44 runs per game), and this offense will be in very good shape.