For Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, Chris Young, And Kyle Zimmer:
A full season of good health. Each of these players missed significant time in 2016 due to injury. Though Gordon and Cain both played over 100 games, they struggled with injuries even when in the lineup for substantial parts of 2016. In fact, Alex Gordon didn’t regain the same “pop” in his bat until the final days of the season according to coach Rusty Kuntz—who gauged the sound of the ball off Gordon’s bat during batting practice.
Mike Moustakas played a mere 27 games after tearing his Anterior Cruciate Ligament in a collision with Gordon on May 22. Meanwhile, Chris Young became the gopher ball king after suffering a sore forearm in early May. He never got back on track all season.
While I’m sure none of these players would accept injuries as an excuse for their performance declines in 2016, the drop-off was acute. In 2015, these four players combined for an impressive 16.9 bWAR. In 2016, the four produced only 3.5 bWAR.
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Add 13.4 wins to the Kansas City Royals 81 victories in 2016, and they would have made up the entire 13-game gap that allowed the Indians to win the A.L. Central title. Health for these four players would go a long way toward bringing the KC Royals back into contention in the American League.
Pitcher Kyle Zimmer has yet to appear in major-league baseball. However, few scouts around the league doubted his stuff as a prospect. Unfortunately, a series of shoulder and knee injuries have dogged him since he joined the organization in 2012. He hasn’t pitched more than 100 innings since 2013.
This winter, doctors diagnosed Zimmer with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome in his shoulder. He had surgery and is expected to be ready to go come Spring Training. Maybe, just maybe, Zimmer can finally show the talent that caused the Royals to make him a first round draft choice in 2012.
C’mon, Santa. Surely you can find some ground unicorn horn somewhere in your inventory.