As we all know, Spring Training stats can be deceptive. So it is advised to take spring training numbers with a grain of salt and move on. So how excited or worried should we be about how our KC Royals are performing? Lets look at some notable spring performers and determine if their numbers are a mirage, or a sign of things to come in 2015.
Alex Rios: Fact
Spring Training Stats: .308/.325/.615, 3 HR, 3 2B
This could very well be wishful thinking, but just three year ago, he had a very similar line at .304/.334/.516. Even in a down year, he did hit .282 last season, and he has never been an OBP guy, so his .308/.325 line could very well be replicated during the season. However, the power numbers are what the Royals are going to want to see from Rios.
At 34, as well as playing in a spacious park like Kauffman, it’s hard to envision him going back to the 25 home runs he hit in 2012.
However, given his consistently high line drive percentage, it’s not hard to envision a 40-45 double season from Rios, which is something the Royals would gladly take. Alex Gordon led the Royals in slugging percentage with a .432 clip last season, so if Rios can come close to the .500 plateau, you wouldn’t see any objections from me.
Eric Hosmer: Fact
Spring Training Stats: .351/.368/.622, 2 HR, 4 2B
Again, paint me a wishful thinker. Where have I heard this theory before.
Despite Hosmer’s recent Spring Training teases, it is reasonable to think he can carry over some of this momentum into the regular season. Why? His swing.
There are still some issues, but he opened up his stance a little and has shortened his swing. I also saw him finish a few swings by releasing his top hand, which sent me back to 2011.
All in all, his swing isn’t a whole lot different, but it doesn’t always take a complete overhaul of a swing to improve. We saw him improve in the postseason and he built off that success by working on his stroke.
His OBP is a little concerning, but he has shown the ability to draw walks in the past. Do I think he’s going to slug at a .600 pace and win an MVP? Heck no. I do think that a modest .300/.350/.450 line would do wonders for the Royals and the 25-year old’s confidence.
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Spring Training Stats: 1-4, 12.71 ERA, .444 BAA
Yes, if you are a little confused, that is 80% of the Royals rotation right there. Alas, Spring Training numbers mean nothing so nothing to be scared of, right? To a certain extent, yes.
I could be wrong, but even if those four face planted this season, their combined ERA wouldn’t even sniff 12.71. So no, I don’t think the rotation is going to implode on itself.
However, the struggles are something to be concerned with, specifically with Ventura. Guthrie and Vargas have a history of being hammered in the spring, so I’m not to worried about them, albeit not very high on them in the first place. I was also never too high on Volquez in the first place, so here we are.
However, Ventura has to be good if the Royals want to be contenders again. His descending strikeout rate, especially in the latter parts of 2014, is something to be very concerned with. He just isn’t missing very many bats. I expect Danny Duffy to be big in 2015, but if the Royals have any real chance at replicating their 2014 success, Ventura will have to be a part of it.
Other Key Players
Kendrys Morales: Fiction
It’s going to be hard for Morales to be any worse than Billy Butler was last year, but he is still an aging DH who’s bat speed is going with him. His .834 spring OPS would really lift the Royals offense, but I would bank on it carrying into the regular season.
Christian Colon: Fact
I’m already an advocate for the #FreeColon campaign, even if it is more or less a #StopInfante campaign. Infante, barring any major injury problems, will almost certainly break camp as the Royals second baseman, despite being the third worst hitter in the American League last season.
Colon has had some defensive issues and doesn’t have a big sample size, but I would love to see him and his 14% spring walk percentage get a shot sometime this season.
Brett Eibner: Fiction
The dude has raked this spring. His eight extra base hits lead the team, including a share for the team lead in doubles and home runs. Despite the fact that he is a fringe prospect and that the numbers aren’t sustainable, I am an Eibner fan.
He has a quick, effortless swing and would provide some pop of a bench that lacks power. If he can stay healthy, he could see some time coming off the bench in Kansas City this season.