The 2016 Royals have become a classic good news/bad news story. The good news is they play half their games at Kauffman Stadium. The bad news is they play the other half away. They’re now 13-25 on the road and 25-8 at home. I did a little looking and the biggest discrepancies between wins at home and wins on the road since 2010 belongs to the 2014 Rockies, who had 24 more wins at home than on the road. They at least make some sense given their elevation. Other notables in that time include the 2015 Astros (+20 at home), the 2015 Dodgers (+18 at home), the 2010 Tigers (+23 at home) and the 2010 Braves (+21 at home). The good news is all four of those teams finished .500 or better and three made the playoffs. The bad news is that it’s really hard to watch the Royals on the road.
- I threw a little something out on Twitter the other day about the Royals having interest in Sean Doolittle from the A’s, so I wanted to expand on that a bit. I’m really not sure how deep the interest is, but multiple people who would know some things have mentioned the connection to me. Some might wonder why the Royals are looking to target a reliever like Doolittle in a trade, and I think there are a few reasons. One, they know their starting pitching isn’t enough, but there isn’t much out there on the market. So make the bullpen even stronger so you don’t need the starters to do as much. Two, moving Danny Duffy to the rotation has left a decent void in the bullpen. Look at Wednesday’s game. The Royals used Brian Flynn in a key situation in the game because there were three lefties out of four batters coming up. Nothing against Flynn, but I think they’d prefer to not use him in a one-run game after having not pitched for quite some time. And three, the Royals bullpen is going to suffer some losses over the next couple years. Luke Hochevar is a free agent after this season and Wade Davis is after next. Being able to fill the void with a proven commodity on a quality contract for the future makes a lot of sense. Now, with the reliever market looking to be hot this season, the demand for Doolittle might price him out of the Royals market, but it’s at least interesting to hear the rumor.
- I mentioned the lack of starting pitchers available on the trade market, but there are a few guys who could make a difference. I’ve mentioned guys like Dan Straily, Scott Feldman, Rich Hill, etc. in the past, but there are a few outside the box options that could make an even bigger impact on the Royals. They’re not all what you’d expect to see, but maybe the Royals could be interested in someone like CC Sabathia if the Yankees end up deciding to sell. He’s in the final year of his deal, and is owed about $19 million more including his buyout. So the Yankees would have to chip in some money, but he’s had a resurgence this season, even with his struggles against the Rockies on Wednesday. You want to talk about a guy who doesn’t have a home run problem, he’s given up just three all season in 69.2 innings. Other names to think about could be Jake Odorizzi, though he’d cost a ton, and Hector Santiago. None are perfect solutions, but could really help the Royals out in their biggest area of need.
- I’m excited for Alex Gordon to come back. Prior to the season, I said that this was going to be one of Gordon’s best big league seasons. He has a .211/.319/.331 batting line so far, so let’s just say my track record on Gordon this year is spotty at best. Still, I like what I’ve heard from Gordon, the team and from watching the few highlights I’ve seen from him on his rehab assignment. He’s said he feels as good as he’s felt all year, his swing looks good and I think he’s ready to finally get going at the big league level this season. I also think the Royals are going to benefit greatly from his presence on the field. It isn’t that they haven’t done a really nice job of piecing things together in his (and Moose’s) absence. They’ve gone 16-13 with the help of Whit Merrifield, Brett Eibner, Reymond Fuentes and others, but Gordon is really one of the leaders on this team, and his return will be positive. I also believe that Gordon is eventually going to hit in one of the two top spots in the batting order along with Merrifield. It may not be in his first game back or even in his first week, but I think there’s a reason he’s been hitting second on his rehab stint. Yes, part of it is to make sure he gets more at bats, but hitting leadoff would be a chance for even more. I think they’re ready to make the move. Even if the power doesn’t come back right away because wrist injuries are fickle, he’ll get on base enough to make a big difference.
- What has gotten into Salvador Perez? Oh right, a few days off. He’s currently in the midst of his best offensive season, with a .300/.331/.536 line. He had a higher OPS+ in his rookie season, but that was only 39 games. What he’s doing now is comparable to what he did in 2012 and 2013, but with way more power. Sure, he’s sacrificed some contact, but I think it’s worth it, especially for a slow guy like him who might do less damage with a strikeout than a ground ball some of the time. And actually, the GIDP numbers show the benefit with his GIDP percentage down to 13 percent from 24 percent last season. Following the Royals 7-0 win over Cleveland on May 7, he was hitting .221/.257/.432, so the power was there, but nothing else. Since then, he’s hit .355/.382/.609 with eight homers and nine doubles. That’s an 85 extra base hit pace. And the Royals have been good about getting him at least a half-day off as the designated hitter. It’s cool what we’ve seen lately.
- Because I’m a nerd, I decided to really try and figure out who would make the All-Star team for the Royals this season now that Lorenzo Cain is out of the starting outfielders. What I came up with is that I think the World Champs will be represented by Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera, Perez and Eric Hosmer. I know that people think Ned Yost will find a way to get Cain on the roster, and he very well might, but some of those spots might be needed in order to meet the requirement of one representative per team. One thing I feel confident in predicting is that if he can’t get Whit Merrifield on the team somehow that he’ll put him in the running for the final vote and then name him a replacement for an injury if Whit doesn’t win. Because, hey, it’s Whit’s world and we’re just leasing space.