Hello and happy holidays and happy new year and all that good stuff. As you know if you’ve been following along, this is the last Friday Notes on BP Kansas City and the last Friday Notes for at least a little while. It will be back somewhere. I just don’t know where yet with a couple irons in the fire, so if you’re going through withdrawal, just know it’ll come back in some form at some time in some future. Since this is an unofficial sendoff to Baseball Prospectus Kansas City, I wanted to look through a few of my favorite articles I wrote this year and share them one last time before hitting that old dusty trail. Thanks for taking the ride with all of us. It’s been a pleasure.
- My first article of 2018 was about Jorge Soler and how he was a big key for the Royals in 2018. After a brutal 2017 season for him, I kept my faith that he could actually be a real contributor to the team in 2018, and I think I was half right. When he was healthy, he was very good, hitting .265/.354/.466. Of course, health is always his issue, and will continue to be a question until he provides an answer that makes that question go away. But he was a big key for the team, hitting .315/.416/.575 in wins. Hey, not much made the 2018 Royals look good, so you have to go digging. But I did like that article.
- After a run of college picks, I looked at the Royals first two days of the draft and their history of taking college players, which was a little more lengthy than I expected it to be. As I said at the time, their draft strategy shows a lot of faith in their current crop of young players in the lower levels and wanting to match up some arms to go with them. So far, things have worked out well with Daniel Lynch and Jackson Kowar looking very good in helping Lexington win a Sally League title, but time will still tell on all of this. It’s fair to say that the farm system is much improved with the additions of these college players (and some others) along with improvements in the system throughout the season. This upcoming season might be even more important than 2018 in building the system as the players who took a step forward need to take another step while the draft picks need to solidify their standing. Plus, with the number two overall pick, this is the year to make big jumps.
- I wrote a fun piece in June about the players who have the Royals to thank for their big numbers. Obviously there was plenty of season left after the article ran, so some guys fell of the pace a little bit, but some of these numbers were just silly. And I’m not sure I’ll ever forget the Matt Davidson vs. the Royals in April experience. Any time I need to drop a few pounds, that’ll make me gag.
- As the Royals move forward with a lot of young pitching in the coming seasons, I wrote about the importance of a good framing catcher in helping them to succeed and how they didn’t really have that in Salvador Perez and Drew Butera. Even looking back on the article, it amazes me how many strikes Royals catchers missed for their pitchers, and how Cam Gallagher could be a huge improvement for this pitching staff in 2019. If Perez is healthy, he’s likely to go back to his very heavy catching duties, though as he gets older, maybe that’s not such a sure thing moving forward. In an era when framing is seen as more important every year and our ability to measure it is better and better, this is a big deal for the Royals moving forward. I’m not saying Gallagher should start at catcher or anything, but I wonder how many extra outs he frames for Royals pitchers in 2019 over Butera.
- In another just for fun piece, I tried to look ahead to the 2019 Royals roster that they’ve been pointing toward since starting this
rebuildtreck back to the top. Obviously, Ryan O’Hearn hadn’t yet emerged, so maybe he prevents a first base signing to bridge the gap to Nick Pratto, but it’s still actually pretty fun to go back and look at what I wrote about that roster. I actually still think a good chunk of that is true, though I wonder if they make their “Shields-esque” trade a year earlier if they show as much promise in 2019 as they did in the last month and a half of 2018. I’ll be keeping an eye on that to see how ridiculously wrong I was about all of this.
- After a season of Cal Eldred at the helm of the pitching staff, I attempted to evaluate him based on improvement from some of the young pitchers throughout the season. I still don’t know exactly what Eldred’s specialty is and/or what he does well, if anything, so it’s hard to get a read on the type of pitchers who the Royals should be targeting to take advantage of those strengths. But there were some positive signs and reading through that again makes me more excited for Heath Fillmyer actually. Well, as excited as you can be about Fillmyer. But still, there’s some reason to at least watch some of the young guys next season.
- And finally, this one is pretty recent, but after Rob Manfred and gang talked about banning the shift, I wrote about why that wouldn’t solve the issue like he thinks it would. You probably recently read the article since it’s only about three weeks old, so I won’t dig in too much, but until they fix replay, the million pitching changes and the fact that pitchers are so good that it’s not fair so much of the time, the shift doesn’t really matter all that much.
So that’s it, friends. That’s my best of 2018 as I exit stage left. Thank you again for everything on BP Kansas City. It’s been a heck of a ride. As I’ve mentioned before, you can still catch me on the main BP site along with somewhere else relatively soon (hopefully). Happy new year everyone!