Kauffman Stadium is not a home run park, but it encourages every other facet of the offensive game: Its one-year tendencies above normal last season were 15 percent for hits, 11 percent for runs, 20 percent for doubles, 47 percent for triples and 7 percent for walks. It also discouraged strikeouts more than any park in the league except the Colorado Rockies' Coors Field. Hitters who rely on anything but home run power can benefit.
The Royals preach aggressiveness at the plate, but unfortunately, that helped to leave them 13th in the AL in on-base percentage last season. Because they were so rarely on base, they rarely stole bases, although their acquisitions of Scott Podsednik and Chris Getz for the top of their order suggest that could change in 2010. No team has hit a higher rate of groundballs each year, either; Kansas City hasn't cultivated power hitters.
Royals starters bequeathed to relievers the third-highest number of base-runners in the AL last year, meaning manager Trey Hillman is not much inclined to let them clean up their own messes. That translated to some extra runs, because KC relievers allowed the highest percentage of inherited runners to score in the league last year. Chances are it will be more of the same in 2010, the team having done nothing to fix their broken bullpen.
Joakim Soria spent time on the DL last season, but when he's healthy, no closer's job is safer. No one has received a higher percentage of save opportunities.
From any angle, KC was awful with the gloves last season: They had the worst Defensive Efficiency Ratio and fielding percentage in the AL. They worked hard to address the issue, though, and should be improved.
Getz is about a wash compared with incumbent Alberto Callaspo at second base, but that was never the problem. Podsednik and Rick Ankiel are small upgrades in left and center field, respectively. If the team were to start Willie Bloomquist over Yuniesky Betancourt at shortstop, they would be downright good.
About Matt Trueblood
Matt is a journalism student at Loyola University Chicago. The guest contributor is a featured Chicago Cubs columnist on the Bleacher Report as well as a contributor to hotstove.com. Matt envisions himself as both a writer and analyst and strives to deliver pieces that are both well-researched and thought-provoking. He work first appeared on KFFL.com in February 2010.
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