What If I told you that the Royals this season are more like the 2015 Royals than the 2015 Royals actually were, would you believe me? Now I realize that sentence doesn’t really make any sense, but it actually does when you analyze it. So the 2015 Royals as we all know was built on speed and defense. That was the thing we always saw in the press from the players, Ned Yost, and even Dayton Moore. The thing is, this was true, but just not as true as the current team. The 2015 team had 4 gold glove type defenders with Perez, Gordon, Cain, and Hosmer. . The current team has three gold glove contenders as well with Gordon, Hamilton, and Maldanado. So with the Defense, the 2015 team was probably a little bit better than this team, but there is potential for it to be close to as good. Speed on the other hand is something different all together.
Would you believe me if I told you that the Royals this year are the fastest team assembled in the last 30 years. Not since the hay day of speedy baseball teams in the 70’s and 80’s has there been a team this fast. The average speed to first base for Mondesi is 4.07seconds. That is amazingly fast. That is over 15 miles per hour fast. He isn’t even the fastest guy on this team though. Hamilton’s average speed to first base is 3.94 seconds and Gore’s time is pretty close to that mark as well. All of this doesn’t even mention the stolen base leader Whit Merrifield. Owings is pretty quick as well and will steal a handful of bases this year as well giving the Royals an outrageous 168 steal forecasted as a team this year. That is an average of 14 stolen bases per batter on the 25-man roster. To put this in perspective, there are supposed speedy guys on other clubs that don’t even get 14 steals a year. So does all that speed mean more runs? Does it equate to better defense? What does the whole “that what speed do” actually do?
Surprisingly, even with Whit on the team last year and leading the league in steals, They Royals finished 5th to last in base running. So we were simply not very smart on the base-paths. Last year the Royals were only considered above average in speed, so the increase in speed this season will create opportunities to get on base with errors and legging out singles. But we have to be smarter on the base-paths as well and not try to stretch doubles into triples that shouldn’t be attempted, because we lost 12 runs last year due to bad base running. Yes that is right, we lost more than a full game worth of potential runs due to bonehead mistakes on the base-paths. That shouldn’t be as much of an issue this season thankfully. The 2014-2015 teams were considered one of the most aggressive and most opportunistic teams ever on the base-paths and if we can get even a little of that with our amazing speed, we will create opportunities to score. The biggest thing is making sure these speedy guys in our lineup get on base, because the Royals last year were one of the worst at getting on base. That speed also plays on defense. The faster the player is, the better chance they have at getting to the tough plays and the gaps. The 2015 Royals ranked as the best in baseball on defense in terms of runs saved relative to average, and this team could also be ranked high. If we can maintain some of this speed going forward we could eventually see one of the best defensive teams again.
The Royals this year will be more fun to watch with their blazing speed, and will bring back some flashes of the 2014-2015 teams, but we have some major room for improvement. The Royals may find as they move some of the guys up from the farms in the coming years that they may lose some of the insane speed to a more balanced team at speed and defense, much like the 2015 team. The Royals have guys like Nicky Lopez who will come up soon who are pretty quick, good defenders that will help solidify our team in the key areas that we want to build around. But what I don’t see is the guys with the good on-base percentages and clutch hitting like Hosmer and Cain had. Maybe this is something we have to trade for, but I am hoping one of these top-level prospects who will be part of the rebuild can bring it. So here are the players and the positions I see them playing on the 2022 team that I feel will be the next 2014 Royals. I will be doing some player profiles on these guys this year to get you ready to see them on their debuts in the next couple seasons.
Catcher- MJ Melendez (Top rated defender, Big arm, great power, the next Salvador Perez)
1st base- Nick Pratto (Top rated defender, Big Arm, Above average contact, above average power)
2nd Base- Nicky Lopez (Big Arm, above average defender, above average speed, above average contact)
Leftfield- Khalil Lee (Power arm, above average defender, above average speed, above average power)
Right Field- Seuly Matias (Power Arm, Above average defender, Above average speed, great power)
Add these guys to the roster I am expecting to stay going forward and see what 2022 begins to look like hitting and defensively and it is easy to get excited.
Short Stop – Adalberto Mondesi
Centerfield- Billy Hamilton
3rd Base- Hunter Dozier
DH- Ryan O’Hearn
Stay tuned to this article next week to see more about the Royals pitching for this team.