In 2012, the KC Royals were moving even closer to the championship team that most fans remember, and many players were starting to come around.
Welcome back to the KC Royals top players and pitchers of the decade. As a quick reminder, we are traveling our way through the past decade of Royals teams, and attempting to pick out the top position player and pitcher from each year.
In this article, we move onto 2012, a year where the Royals again saw some small progression towards the team we remember from 2015. While the record didn’t show a great deal of progression from 2011, only gaining one win, there could be some confidence found in the fact that the Royals did not regress and were starting to show their buildup was going better than their American League Central rivals, jumping from 4th to 3rd to end the season.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the payers and see who might take the top spot. As noted in previous articles, if you feel a different player should be given the top spot, let us know in the comments. It’s always good to see how other fans think.
In 2012 the Royals were still smoothing out the edges, but the team was starting to take shape. The team overall was fairly young and the players that would lead the team in the future were getting more and more playing time.
The Royals had two players bat over .300, Salvador Perez and Billy Butler, and two more that batted over .290, Alex Gordon and Alcides Escobar. While these players had the higher batting averages, there were plenty of other players adding to the production; Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, and Jeff Francoeur, just to name a few.
When starting to look closely at the stats, there are a few players who could stand out to get the top spot. Gordon again had a great year, slashing .294/.368/.455 with 14 home runs, 51 doubles, 72 RBI’s and 93 Runs. Moustakas added 73 RBIs and 20 home runs, while Hosmer answered with 60 RBIs and 14 home runs.
One player though had an offensive year that put him a little over the top. Billy Butler takes the top spot again. Butler mainly saw his innings at designated hitter in 2012, which likely helped him to increase his offensive production. Butler slashed .313/.373/.510 with 32 doubles, 29 home runs, and 107 RBIs.
Adding to the reasons why Butler takes the top spot, he was also an All-Star and won the silver slugger award, proving his great offensive production.
Now onto pitching. The story remains the same as the last few articles. It’s really all about the bullpen. As far as starting pitchers go (who started more than 10 games) the Royals only had one pitcher keep his ERA under 4.00. Jeremy Guthrie held an ERA of 3.16 over 91 innings pitched and 14 starts. Luis Mendoza came in next sitting at 4.23, followed by Bruce Chen at 5.07.
So, let’s look at the bullpen. While the starters might have struggled, luckily for the Royals, the bullpen arms primarily kept their ERA’s under 4, many of them dipping down under .300. Some of the names that pop out for top pitcher of 2012 are Tim Collins, Greg Holland, Aaron Crow, and Kelvin Herrera.
While all of these pitchers kept there ERA low, there was a commonality in most of them like in 2011, their walks. Collins was known for walking a lot of batters, so there no surprise there, but Greg Holland also saw a spike in his walk rate for 2012, ending the year at 4.6 walks per 9.
Looking at walks, strikeouts, ERA, and workload, Kelvin Herrera is the name that rises to the top of the list to stand out the most. Herrera ended the season with an ERA of 2.35, a walks per 9 of 2.2, strikeouts per 9 of 8.2, and pitched 84.1 innings, making him the only Royals reliever in 2012 to break 70 innings pitched.
Herrera was another name that was cementing his place in the Royals bullpen of the future and would in time become a key player in their road to the championship.
Continue to follow along and we will keep working through the decade to find the best Royals players from each year.