Sep 9, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Minnesota Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki (8) makes the tag at home plate on Kansas City Royals left fielder Jarrod Dyson (1) in the tenth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
In 2014, Ned Yost enjoyed a bench that possessed a number of game-changing specialty skills that were useful in the late innings.
Speed demons Jarrod Dyson saw heavy use as a late-inning defensive substitution and pinch runner. Terrance Gore was a pinch running specialist who had a stolen base success rate of over 90% in the minor leagues. Josh Willingham had power (14 home runs) and patience (.349 OPS, 12.8% walk rate) as a right-handed bench bat. Backup catcher Erik Kratz had some pop in his bat (five home runs in 110 ABs). About the only iffy backup players on the team were utility infielders Jayson Nix (World Series, ALCS) and Christian Colon (Wild Card, ALDS).
The 2015 Kansas City Royals bench returns base-running rabbits Jarrod Dyson and Terrance Gore, but don’t quite have as strong a mix of specialty skills as the 2014 team. Jonny Gomes figures to be the top right-handed bench bat, but he suffered through a tough season (.213/.313/.347). Gomes, however, is still effective against left-handed pitchers (.783 OPS). Backup catcher Drew Butera is a better defensive player than Erik Kratz, but is pretty useless at the plate (.533 OPS).
Christian Colon (.290/.356/.336) figures to be the utility infielder, and is better established with the Kansas City Royals as a second-year player rather than the rookie he was in 2014. Omar Infante could join the bench mix, if he recovers from his oblique injury during the playoffs.
Reserve outfielder Paulo Orlando could find his way onto the roster during the playoffs. The former Brazilian track star brings a nice mix of bench power, range, and speed to the table (.249/.269./.444 with seven home runs and six triples).
As a group, I think the 2015 bench has better options in case a starter goes down. But, I like the situational skills of the 2014 group.
Next: 2015 Coaching vs. 2014 Coaching