Blazing Dodger Blue meets en fuego Royal Blue
A month ago the game was figuring out where the assorted Royals were going to end up. Cain, Hosmer, Moustakas, and Vargas were the primary names being bandied about. I had even conjectured that Cain would be a good fit for the Dodgers given the struggles of Pederson and the uncertain status of the untested Chris Taylor as two of the Dodger everyday outfielders.
Forget about it
Not just because the Royals are now players but because Joc and Chris seem entrenched along with help from Kiké as the Dodger outfielders.
The Royals are so hot they have climbed from last place on June 2nd to one game behind the division-leading Cleveland Indians. They did this by going 17 – 9 in June, and 5 – 1 so far in July.
No longer sellers, the Royals will be looking to add pieces in July.
What a great matchup the Dodger/Royals will be providing fans of Blue this weekend.
The offense is a bit out of synch for the Royals. All of the heavy lifting is being conducted by the infield, while the outfield has been struggling to keep pace.
The Dodgers have Justin Turner, the Royals can match them with Chatsworth High star Mike Moustakas who might be the hottest hitter in baseball. Moustakas has hit five home runs in the last seven days and twenty-five for the season which is already three more than his career high of twenty-two.
The Dodgers have Chris Taylor but the Royals can match that with Whit Merrifield who much like Taylor appeared to be destined to be an AAA or utility player at best this season. Instead, Merrifield has filled a huge hole at 2nd base while giving the team some speed. Whit does not measure upto Chris Taylor over the whole season so far due to his poor June but over the past seven days Whit is as hot as any second baseman in baseball with a 149 wRC+ along with five stolen bases.
The Dodgers have Cody Bellinger but right now the Royals can match that with Eric Hosmer. Outside of all-star snub Logan Morrison, Hosmer is the hottest hitting AL 1st baseman over the past seven days with a wRC+ of 202. Overall his 126 wRC+ is the best of his career.
The Dodgers have Corey Seager and the Royals can match that with…………………..Ha ha, no bloody way they can match Corey Seager.
If the Royals need some help they might be looking toward the outfield.
Lorenzo Cain has had an off year but in June he was spectacular putting up a full month wRC+ of 162, good enough for 3rd best for AL CF in June. For the season Cain is having a Cain like year after being down last year. His full season wRC+ is 110 which seems very Cain-like. According to Fangraphs, he’s not the dominant defensive CF we saw in two world series but he’s still above average. Just not spectacular.
The Dodgers have their Cuban right fielder, the Royals have their Cuban Right Fielder. The Dodger one is much better in all aspects of the game. I think Puig and Soler were signed the same season. Soler was signed by the Cubs and was generally expected to become a star. Didn’t happen. May not happen. Soler was sent down to AAA earlier this year, and is now back but is still not doing much.
The better Jorge has been Jorge Bonifacio but Bonifacio is one of the four Royal outfielders who have struggled lately. Jorge banged some home runs early and was a force in May but has seen his wRC+ drop rapidly as the season has progressed.
To give you an idea how bad the right fielder Jorge’s have struggled they have combined to strike out eighteen times in forty-four plate appearances. Nine for each.
Alex Gordon was one of the better left fielders in the game when we saw him in the 2014/2015 World Series. The 2016 version of Alex Gordon was the worst LF in baseball even accounting for good defense. The 2017 version started off much the same as the 2016 version and it has not gotten any better.
The Royals are contenders but they are doing it with the worst hitting outfield in the American League, and have only the Giants to thank for not being the worst hitting outfield in all of baseball.
Seven Day Stats for the Royal Hitters:
The Dodgers will be facing Jason Hammel, Ian Kennedy, and Danny Duffy.
Did the Cubs make a mistake in letting Hammel walk this past winter and turning to Brett Anderson instead? Brett Anderson has shockingly spent most of the season on the disabled list. Hammel started out like he wasn’t going to finish the season in the Royal rotation but has righted the ship and is coming off a very good June. Can he carry that into July?
Ian Kennedy was the Royals big free agent signing in 2016 and it is not going well. He is giving the Royal rotation innings, he’s just not making it easy to win games that he starts. He has given up sixteen home runs in only eighty-one innings and is carrying a FIP of 5.36.
Danny Duffy was kind of the Alex Wood of 2016 for the Royals. Headed into 2016, the young left-hander Duffy had lost his spot in the rotation and was destined for the bullpen. He pitched well out of the bullpen was inserted into the rotation and went on to have his best season. This year, Duffy has pitched well but missed all of June, which oddly was the Royals best month. He’s now back and will be making his second start since coming off the DL.
The Dodgers don’t get to face All-Star Jason Vargas one of the great pitching stories of 2017. Too bad, really wanted to see him.
The bullpen no longer has Greg Holland or Wade Davis who have combined for forty-four saves for other teams. These don’t appear to be good decisions. Jorge Soler was the price for Wade Davis and he looks like the same bust he was for the Cubs. Greg Holland simply required a small investment and they passed.
Kelvin Herrera who had been the super setup man for Holland and Davis is now the closer and while he has struggled at times with that role the real problem is that he is no longer the super setup man. The long deep bullpen that was the key to the Royals success of 2014 and 2015 is gone.
Well not gone, just not the best in baseball anymore. Joakim Soria is still here and has moved into the super setup role and it looks like he’s doing the job. Mike Minor is certainly doing the job. The problem might be that those guys are the best, and it drops off from there. They picked up Feliz a few weeks ago and he might help but the Brewers didn’t think he could.
The starters still don’t go deep and the bullpen is not as good as it was to make up for it.
Now that I’ve looked at the Royal team I’m kind of coming away unimpressed. I think the hot streak by the Royals is a mirage and that this team still needs lots of help to continue to be a contender. They are in a tough spot with three key players in their free agent year who could help them get pieces for the next Royal run but as long as they are in contention they can’t trade them.
I wish them well, I really enjoyed watching those 2014/2015 teams but they could be in for a rude awakening facing the hottest team in baseball who appear to be better than them at every spot across the board.