KC Royals: Don’t Write off Bubba Starling

pbrennan
Feb 25, 2016; Surprise, AZ, USA; Kansas City Royals outfielder Bubba Starling poses for a portrait during photo day at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 25, 2016; Surprise, AZ, USA; Kansas City Royals outfielder Bubba Starling poses for a portrait during photo day at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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It has been quite the professional career for KC Royals outfield prospect Bubba Starling. He’s had his ups and downs, more of the later. But with some signs of light, maybe it isn’t quite time to write him off.

Bubba Starling had a less than ideal start to this season. That maybe sugar coating it too. Starling slashed to a line of .129/.217/.194. He looked dreadful.

But I have reasons to believe he is improving at finding his stride in AAA.

Let’s use his 2016 season as a reference point. You may recall he had an undeserving promotion to AAA in the middle of last year. This came after he hit for a wRC+ of 64..

As expected, AAA did no good for him. His strike out walk went up, his walk rate went down, and his LD% dropped.

Back in AAA to start this year, the first month of this season only lowered our expectations for Bubba. But Bubba has found success the month

Improvements

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Like I’ve mentioned multiple times above, Bubba has hit well in May after a dreadful April.

This month, Starling is hitting .288. There is one concern though. Bubba has seemed to turned in his power for batting average. He is only slugging .327.

But don’t look to far into that. Starling is actually hitting the ball harder. Last year, he hit line drives at a rate of 16.8% in AAA. This April he hit them at a lowly rate of 9.8%. This month, he is hitting more, along with a higher rate of flyballs.

His batting average has benefited from this greatly. It isn’t just him hitting the ball harder though.

Take a look at these charts, specifically the heat maps from mlbfarm.com.

Just take the BABIP for example. In April, Starling had a BABIP of .152. Now with spraying the ball, hitting the ball harder, Starling has posted a BABIP in May of .349. Because of this, he has seen his batting average raise more than 70 points.

Conclusion

Hopefully these improvements at the plate can last over a longer period of time for Bubba. If so, we could possibly see him make his debut with the big league club some time this year.

"KC Royals salvage series behind Duffy’s excellent outing"

He doesn’t have the best bat, but with his speed and defense, the former top pick has a chance to be a serviceable fourth outfielder for the KC Royals.

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