KC Royals: Five Reasons The Royals Will Defeat Blue Jays
By John Viril
Oct 14, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals left fielder Alex Gordon makes a sliding catch against the Houston Astros in the sixth inning in game five of the ALDS at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
3. DEFENSE, DEFENSE, DEFENSE
Make no mistake, the Toronto Blue Jays are a really good team. They won 93 regular-season games. They turned it on the the second half with MLB-best 48-23 record. They won three straight elimination games to earn a shot at dethroning the defending American League Champion KC Royals.
And, as you’d expect from a team with such a pedigree, they play sound defense. In fact, according to Baseball Prospectus, the Toronto Blue Jays rank no. 1 in Defensive Efficiency as a team, ahead of the Kansas City Royals (6th).
So how is it that I think the Kansas City Royals hold a significant edge in team defense?
While Defensive Efficiency favors the Blue Jays, other defensive metrics like Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), and Fangraphs.com’s DEF metric strongly favor the KC Royals. The Royals ranked second in MLB with 56 DRS, no. 1 in team UZR, and no. 1 with a 56.9 DEF.
Aside from the numbers, the Kansas City Royals simply boast more strong defenders.
For the Blue Jays, catcher Russell Martin, third baseman Josh Donaldson, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, and center-fielder Kevin Pillar are outstanding defensive players in key positions. But players like second baseman Ryan Goins (3.0 UZR/150 which makes him three runs better than a league average defender), left-fielder Ben Revere, and first baseman Chris Colabello are more average than good defenders, and right fielder Jose Bautista is below average.
But, the KC Royals counter with pretty much an entire lineup of players capable of outstanding defensive plays.
They boast defending Platinum Glove winner left fielder Alex Gordon, and 2014 Gold Glove winners in catcher Salvador Perez and first baseman Eric Hosmer. Third baseman Mike Moustakas is known for an iconic leap into the stands during the 2014 World Series, while shortstop Alcides Escobar has been a regular on ESPN’s Web Gems segment for years. Second baseman Ben Zobrist has had a poor defensive season according to the metrics, but he struggled with a knee injury earlier this season. Over his career, Zobrist has been an excellent defender.
Pretty much the only sub-par glove on the field might be 34-year-old Alex Rios, but the KC Royals can bring in speedsters Jarrod Dyson, or Paulo Orlando, in the late innings to deploy an outfield with ridiculous defensive range.
The Kansas City Royals frequently demoralize opponents by turning hard-hit balls into outs, which can be even more oppressive under the pressure of post-season play.
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