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.