In 2009, the Kansas City Royals were an offensive monstrosity. The club ranked second-to-last in the American League in runs scored, while also placing second from the bottom in walk rate.
Once you consider park factors, the Royals fielded the worst lineup in the Junior Circuit. The Seattle Mariners plated fewer runs, but the M’s play in a run-suppressing environment. Per the 2010 Bill James Handbook, Safeco Field deflated run-scoring by six percent compared to a neutral ball park from 2007-2009, while Kauffman Stadium boosted runs by two percent. According to Fan Graphs, Kansas City’s batters collectively posted a league-worst -66.2 Park-Adjusted Batting Runs last year.
When the team wasn’t busy making outs at a dizzying pace, they were playing wretched defense. Per 150 defensive games, Kansas City was -6.5 runs below average with the leather. Only the Minnesota Twins and New York Mets fared worse among major league clubs.
But GM Dayton Moore has not rested on his laurels. Quite the contrary, in fact. With the additions of Jason Kendall and Scott Podsednik, the Royals again figure to be a plodding, out-making juggernaut in 2010.
Just for fun, here are the CHONE offensive projections for Kansas City’s starting lineup. For the defensive numbers, I included Jeff Zimmerman’s projected 2010 UZR/150 totals. Zimmerman used four-year UZR totals, then did a 5/4/3/2 weighting regressed to 125 games and added a -0.7 UZR/150 aging factor. Ladies and gentleman, your 2010 Kansas City Royals:
C: Jason Kendall, .245/.315/.306, -25 runs per 150 games
1B: Billy Butler, .307/.372/.478, +24 runs/150 games, -4 UZR/150
2B: Alberto Callaspo, .289/.349/.412, +3 runs/150 games, -3 UZR/150
SS: Yuniesky Betancourt, .273/.303/.387, -16 runs/150 games, -10 UZR/150
3B: Alex Gordon, .267/.353/.435, +11 runs/150 games, -1 UZR/150
LF: David DeJesus, .278/.351/.410, +4 runs/150 games, +11 UZR/150
CF: Scott Podsednik, .275/.336/.368, -9 runs/150 games, -3 UZR/150
RF: Jose Guillen, .254/.309/.398, -8 runs/150 games, -11 UZR/150
DH: Josh Fields, .252/.335/.412, +1 run/150 games
Some of these names and positions could change, but you get the point. Here are some other candidates for significant playing time:
Chris Getz, .275/.338/.370, -8 runs/150 games, -4 UZR/150 at second base
Willie Bloomquist, .265/.323/.351, -17 runs/150 games, -1 UZR/150 in right field, -5 UZR/150 in center field, +2 UZR/150 in left field, -4 UZR/150 at shortstop, -2 UZR/150 at second base
Mitch Maier, .262/.326/.368, -11 runs/150 games, -1 UZR/150 in center field, -2 UZR/150 in right field
Mike Aviles, .270/.305/.403, -12 runs/150 games, +6 UZR/150 at shortstop
Brayan Pena, .282/.326/.415, -1 run/150 games
Kila Kaaihue, .240/.353/.388, +6 runs/150 games
Fan Graphs doesn’t currently have defensive stats for catchers, so there’s no projection for Kendall. The departed Miguel Olivo is widely panned for his defensive shortcomings. A study on catcher defense by Matt Klaassen (AKA devil_fingers) found that Olivo was 8-9 runs below average in 2009. Kendall was better, but only in relative terms (-4.5 runs). Once an offensive asset, Kendall now plays the banjo at the plate.
Podsednik figures to be slightly below average in center field, while regressing with the bat. His BABIP was .342 with the White Sox, boosting his 2009 line.
Butler is a quality hitter who won’t turn 24 until April. Callaspo isn’t likely to slug near .460 again next season. However, he’s not a total zero like his double-play partner. Gordon hasn’t lived up to expectations yet, but he was basically a league-average starter in both 2007 (2 WAR) and 2008 (2.4 WAR) before a hip injury derailed his 2009 campaign. DeJesus is deceptively valuable: he doesn’t fit the cookie-cutter image of a corner outfielder, but a decent bat and great range have allowed him to average 2.8 WAR over the past three seasons. Outside of that quartet? These guys look like court jesters.
Shield your eyes, Zack Greinke.