Is Bubba Starling is finally showing some of the promise that has been expected of the Kansas City Royals for so long?
Okay, its early in the spring. Every year prospects show enormous talent then fade as more games are played. Pitchers are throwing mostly fastballs or pitches they are working on. The lineups for the first two weeks of Spring Training are populated with players who won’t be on Opening Day rosters. Bubba Starling is one of them. He is not wasting his opportunity with the Kansas City Royals.
With only three games and seven AB’s under his belt, Starling is leading the team in runs with five, Hits with six, home runs with two, and RBI’s with four. His average is .857 and his slugging is 1.857. I would say he is seeing the ball really well to start the spring. These kind of numbers aren’t bound to continue, but it’s nice to see him show any type of progress in his hitting.
For the last couple of years Starling has had to deal with injuries. Last year had to be very frustrating for him. In interviews, he talked about being more comfortable at the plate. Instead of trying to be what everybody expected of him, he just tried to do what he could to make contact. The results were better.
Although, like this springs statistics, he only played a few games in 2018. His walks were up and his power started to show up. Most of the power numbers came from the rehab assignments at the end of the year. Still, he made the best of it and in 19 AB’s, producing four homers and three doubles to end his season. The point being, he is hitting the ball hard and making contact. Something that has eluded him for most of his professional career.
Attitude and confidence are funny things. You can have a great amount of both and still fail. Baseball is a good example. Even the best players have to go through disappointment at times. You can be hitting the ball hard and often, but hit it at someone for an out. For players with lots of success, those times are just a part of the game that has to be endured. Sooner or later the odds turn in your favor and you hit them where they ain’t.
For someone like Starling, any success is critical to build on. I believe his attitude is good. He could have left baseball or the Kansas City Royals by now. He wouldn’t be here if he didn’t have the desire to reach his dream to be in the Major Leagues. I’m sure he realizes his opportunities are fading. If he is ever going to grace center field in a Royals uniform, he needs to produce now. His fielding has been major league ready since he joined the organization. What we have been waiting for is his bat to catch up.
Confidence is a harder thing to achieve. You need some type of success to build on. Sometimes both come when you just get tired of failing. Lorenzo Cain said he got tired of it. He replaced the fear of failing with anger. He got mad at losing games and losing battles with the pitchers he was facing. From that time on, he became a better hitter. I still believe Cain was a greater loss to the team than Eric Hosmer. His bat always seemed to be in the middle of things in the Royals championship years.
I hope Starling has come to that point. Where the fear of failing is overcome by the desire to succeed. We expect these young men to come into professional baseball ready to go. Some take longer to develop. Coaches wait to see that light to go on. Most never get it lit.
This is a good start to build that confidence. I don’t expect him to start the season with the big league club no matter how good he looks. If he continues to build on his early success in Omaha, he could push the Royals to trade Billy Hamilton earlier than planned.
Let’s hope Bubba Starling has turned that corner. We need a solid center fielder. I personally am cheering for him and what a welcome gift to the club if he is finally able to contribute at the big league level.