For those of you watching tonight’s series finale against the Twins, you’ll have just seen Kila Ka’aihue hit his eighth homerun of the season. For those of you watching last night, you also saw his sixth and seventh homers. Oh, and a triple, too (that was just about his third homer of the night).
Kila is free.
And he’s on a rampage.
Okay, stop me if you’ve heard this one. Royals player simmers in hapless anonymity all season, then in September turns it on, gets the Royals community all worked up about what lies ahead, only to regress the following spring.
Exhibit A: Ryan Shealy who hit seven homers in September 2008. He’s played in five games in the majors since and bounced around multiple organizations.
Exhibit B: Kyle Davies who had a 2.27 ERA in five starts in September 2008 with a 24/7 K/BB ratio. He then won all three starts in September of 2009, compiling a 1.06 ERA over 17 innings. His ERA has been over 5.00 for most of 2010.
I want to be clear, because I’ve been burned on September optimism in the past, that what we’re seeing now from Kila Ka’aihue is not necessarily what we’ll see over a full season next year.
But damn. I still hope he can bring some of this thunder to 2011.
After an August that saw Ka’aihue make 92 plate appearances and produce a .167/.239/.274/.513 line, some Royals fans feared the worst, or at least cooled on whatever expectations they’d had after Ka’aihue tore up the Pacific Coast League. But his September has been monstrous, and it’s enough to make a fan wonder if he’s finally getting comfortable and finally getting confidence.
In September, Ka’aihue is hitting .286/.378/.571/.949 in 90 plate appearances. That’s with six homers, 16 RBI and 12 walks. His now eight homers ties him for fourth on the team behind the gruesome twosome of Yuniesky Betancourt and Jose Guillen (16), Billy Butler (15), Wilson Betemit (13). Ka’aihue shares his spot in that ranking with Mike Aviles and Alberto Callaspo.
It makes you wonder (with hindsight being 20/20 and all) if Ka’aihue would have struggled with regular playing time in May (had he gotten it) when he was first called up this year, only to turn it on in June and carry it on. There’s no way to answer that question now, but it’s interesting to think about. Perhaps he’d have had a blistering June and cooled off in July as the numbers regressed to the norm. Six homers in a month puts a batter on a 36 homer pace, and while Ka’aihue has demonstrated that potency in the minor leagues, he’s still a rookie, and you can’t project that accurately. But with a full half of the season, I’d fathom a guess that Ka’aihue would be up there with Butler and Betancourt for the team lead in homers.
I guess we’ll just have to wait for him to be up there next year.