I feel like we’re beating a dead horse. Nick said it. I said it. Joe Posnanski and Rany Jazayerli said it. And now I’m saying it again: The Kansas City Royals need more OBP.

The 2008 Royals were twelfth out of 14 AL teams in OBP, and last in walks. But Dayton Moore kicked off the trade season by dealing for Marlins 1B Mike Jacobs, who had a .299 on-base percentage in 2008 and walked just 36 times.

Next, Moore picked up the option on catcher Miguel Olivo, who has a .275 career OBP.

Then he signed free agent infielder Willie Bloomquist, who had one extra base hit in 2008 and a .377 OBP. What’s that  you say? A .377 OBP isn’t half bad? Don’t be fooled. Bloomquist’s high OBP came in only 71 games and 165 at bats — not a very big sample size. His career OBP is a more pedestrian .322. In Bloomquist’s favor, he can play almost every position and would make a decent utility player, but it seems the Royals intend to use him as an everyday second baseman.

Moore’s best transaction was trading for Coco Crisp, whose stellar defense will be an asset, but whose .331 career OBP doesn’t help solve the Royals’ biggest problem.

What it all comes down to, as Jazayerli describes, is the Royals simply have too many low OBP guys to compete:

Baseball rewards balance, and punishes redundancy. One Jack Cust in your lineup is an asset, because he mashes the ball and you can hide him at DH – but if you’ve got four Jack Custs in your lineup, then you have no defense at three positions, and pretty soon you’re giving up runs faster than you can score them. Similarly, if you’ve got one low-OBP hitter in your lineup, he can bat ninth and compensate for his low OBP in other ways. But when you’ve got five low-OBP hitters in your lineup, then by definition some of them are going to have to lead off or bat in the middle of the order, and the liability of each additional low-OBP hitter has a multiplier effect.

Amen, Rany. Amen.

Added: Mike Jacobs, Coco Crisp, Kyle Farnsworth, Willie Bloomquist.

Lost: Ramon Ramirez, Leo Nunez, Kip Wells.

Projected lineup, rotation, and closer:

CF Coco Crisp
SS Mike Aviles
RF Jose Guillen
DH Billy Butler
3B Alex Gordon
LF David Dejesus
1B Mike Jacobs
2B Willie Bloomquist
C Miguel Olivo

SP Zack Greinke
SP Gil Meche
SP Brian Bannister
SP Luke Hochevar
SP Kyle Davies/ Jorge Ramirez

CL Joakim Soria

Conclusion: The Royals have a decent pitching staff, led by Meche, Greinke and Bannister. They’ve got a top flight closer and potential star hitters in Billy Butler and Alex Gordon. But until they address the team’s total and complete lack of OBP, they’re screwed.

Grade: F

-Hot Offseason Action index –

12 Responses to “Hot Offseason Action: Kansas City Royals”

  1. Sarah Green says:

    Ooh, our first F!

    It seems clear that the Royals just don’t give a crap about OBP. They don’t train their hitters to take walks. They don’t sign guys with high OBP’s. They just don’t care about it.

    They’re clearly run by a shadow-ownership of ornery old baseball writers who call taking walks “clogging the basepaths.”

  2. Coley Ward says:

    But they pay lip service to OBP, so they clearly recognize that other people think they need more base runners.

  3. My dark horse favorite to win the Central. Like ’em.

  4. Rob Tyson says:

    You gotta feel for Royals fans… it must be tough starting every season with a goal of simply not being in the basement.

  5. Sarah Green says:

    Dirty Water, that’s a funny joke. Funny. Ha. Ha?

  6. Coley Ward says:

    I like the Royals, too. They’ve got a team full of guys who play hard. But I certainly don’t expect them to win.

  7. That’s actually not their projected lineup as Hillman (aka The Worst Manager in the Majors) is going to bat Gordon 7th.

    The Royals will be hardpressed to win 75 games again, will not compete, and will not do anything to make them selves better.

  8. Coley Ward says:

    I’ll be honest, Ron. I didn’t spend a lot of time trying to figure out what KC’s lineup would be. You can bat those guys wherever and it’s not gonna make much of a difference.

  9. Stathead on the outside looking in. The Royals will be much better this year, and will compete in the Central.
    A whole season of Aviles, Crisp leading off, DDJ will bat 3rd where he was a league leader with RISP, Guillen will bat 4th with better numbers (he played the entire 2nd half with 2 hip flexors) Jacobs will provide a LH bat in the #5 spot until Gordon turns it on. Butler and Shealy will create a great problem with both producing in the #6 spot, Gordon will be much improved and could even be a MVP candidate, Olivo brings more power, arm and attitude to the C spot, and Callaspo will be the 2B man.
    The pitching is very good going Greinke, Meche, Davies, Hochevar and either Ho Ram, Banny or Luke Hudson in the 5 spot. Looks good and deep to me.

  10. The other factor with the Royals is they have a new hitting coach in Kevin Seitzer. Many of their OBP issues came from Buddy Bell and old hitting Coach Burnett. They were trying not to take away the hitters agressiveness which is a flawed approach. Guillen, Olivo and Jacobs are all or nothing type swingers, true. But each was put in a position where they were being asked to drive runs in not walk, because the youngsters behind them were not producing, and somebody has to drive the runs in. The emergence of Gordon, Butler, Teahen and Shealy this year, and Guillen/Jacobs taking a little burden off one another will result in markedly more success for the whole team.
    18-8 September showed what they are capable of this season.

  11. Dave, I suppose you’re right that if Gordon, Butler, Teahen and Shealy “emerge” this year and the new hitting coach convinces them to take a lot of walks that Kansas City will be improved. But I wouldn’t put any money on all that happening.

  12. Paul Moro says:

    There’s also no statistical evidence I’ve seen that proves hitting coaches have a big effect on any lineup. A lot of hitters just can’t be taught patience, just like they can’t be taught to crank out 40HRs. Hitters are who they are and all coaches can do is to make sure they see their flaws. It’s up to the players themselves to consistently fix them.

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