4. Cheslor Cuthbert Emerges As Legit Starter At Third Base
The KC Royals suffered a devastating blow when All-Star third baseman Mike Moustakas tore his ACL in a collision with Alex Gordon on May 23. Moustakas had surgery and is lost for the season. His departure left a massive hole at third base since Moose posted 4.4 bWAR in 2015.
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Twenty-three year old rookie Cheslor Cuthbert has filled that gap.
Yes, Cheslor Cuthbert hasn’t been a 4.4 WAR player. But, he has shown himself to be a legitimate major-league regular by slashing .293/.329/.443 with 21 doubles, 1 triple, 10 home runs and 40 RBIs in 375 plate appearances in 92 games. Overall, he’s produced a decent 0.8 bWAR in slightly more than half a season of play. At his current pace, he projects at around 1.1 WAR over a full season.
While that isn’t Moustakas’ 4.4 WAR, it’s still not bad. Cuthbert has settled in as the Kansas City Royals no. 2 hitter and done a good job. His defense looks better to the eye test than the -0.3 dWAR that Baseball-Reference reports.
Cuthbert Closes Holes In Swing
The impressive part is how Cuthbert has adjusted to what major-league pitchers were doing to him. Slashing .269/.304/.423 on July 1, he’s hit .315/.351/.459 since. He’s grown at the plate in 2016, which is impressive for a 23-year-old rookie.
Cheslor Cuthbert isn’t a great player, but he’s shown he belongs in a major-league lineup. The KC Royals needed a minor-league position player to develop with their lineup getting hit hard by impending free-agents after the 2017 season. Cuthbert is the first of GM Dayton Moore’s “second wave” prospects to make an impact in Kansas City.
Let’s hope those that follow play as well as Cuthbert has in his first full KC Royals season.
Next: No. 3