Sep 10, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Kansas City Royals designated hitter Josh Willingham (7) hits a single in the fourth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
5. Power Off The Bench
Late-season games down the stretch, or a playoff series, can be won with a key pinch hit. An ideal playoff team has a strong bench bat that can not only deliver a big hit, but also can erase a big lead with one swing.
In short, you need a bench bat with home run power.
Butera is an excellent defensive catcher, but doesn’t help out much at the plate. Dusty Coleman is a rookie that can play every infield position, but isn’t a seasoned pinch hitter. Expect the Royals to call up Christian Colon for the utility infield role in September. Jarrod Dyson is a defensive wizard in the outfield and an impact pinch runner.
Among this group, Orlando is the closest to anything resembling a power bat off the bench. He slashed .248./.282/.424 in the first half with 3 doubles, 5 triples, and 2 home runs, including a dramatic walkoff grand slam on July 7.
While Orlando does have some extra-base pop, he’s hardly a proven hitter. Though 30-years-old, the Brazilian-born Paulo Orlando is in his rookie season. He’s not exactly the ideal pinch hitter you want at the plate under playoff pressure.
General manager Dayton Moore could seek a veteran bench bat to help out down the stretch like he did last season with Josh Willingham.
The switch-hitting Willingham was almost the ideal bench bat for a playoff team. He was a 35-year-old veteran, had hit more than 190 home runs in his career, and possessed the patience to draw walks.
Unfortunately, Josh Willingham retired after the 2014 season. That leaves Dayton Moore hoping he can land a similar player for the 2015 stretch run.
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Marlon Byrd might be the idea candidate. He’s 37-years-old, has hit 14 home runs this season, and shouldn’t cost too much since he’s in the last year of his contract. The only problem with Byrd is that he lacks the patience that you’d like with only a 6.3% walk rate.
Next: Second Baseman Omar Infante