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Royals 2011 Preview Part II - The Lineup


In 2010, there wasn't much that the Royals did well, so saying that their offense was probably their best component is damning with praise. You'll get no argument from me, but it is a little surprising that they had a somewhat decent offense. They scored 4.17 runs per game, which was good for 10th in the American League. Not great, but that's the highest the team has ranked in that category since 2003 when the team was 4th and won 83 games.

The 2011 version of the lineup should be at least as good if not better offensively and it's one of the reasons that the team should be at least somewhat improved in the win-loss column in 2011.

Projected Starting Lineup

1. Mike Aviles 3B - Usually the leadoff spot is reserved for speedy guys who can get on base, however the Royals won't have a guy like that, so placing Aviles up top is an inspired choice. He's one of the best hitters on the team and should be able to set the table. He'll start the season at third base, but as soon as Mike Moustakas is promoted he'll almost certainly going to move to second where he's best suited anyway.

2. Melky Cabrera CF - The Royals never really needed Melky Cabrera. He hasn't been as good as Mitch Maier or Gregor Blanco recently, but he's still young and has been raking in Spring Training. He's a good bet to be traded to make way for Lorenzo Cain who the Royals acquired in the Greinke deal.

3. Billy Butler 1B - One of the best hitters in baseball and he's still only 24 years old. People talk about how many double plays he grounded into, but the GIDP leaderboards are littered with some of the best hitters in the game. If he develops some power this year, he could become an elite offensive player.

4. Kila Ka'aihue DH - He's got fantastic patience at the plate and a true power stroke. It's a combination rarely seen and therefore rarely appreciated. Kila will likely get the entire season to prove to the Royals he is a Major League caliber player. He might be auditioning for the rest of the league since top prospect Eric Hosmer is breathing down his neck.

5. Alex Gordon LF - The one-time top prospect has lost some of his luster and he's now moved from third base to left field. He was solid defensively in 2010, but his bat is going to have to get even better to justify a corner outfield spot. He spent the off-season completely re-tooling his swing with hitting coach Kevin Seitzer and has been hitting .349/.500/.651 in Spring Training.

6. Jeff Francoeur RF - He had one good season with the Atlanta Braves, but since then has been one of the worst offensive players in baseball. He is still a very good defender and he's young, but he doesn't have a future with the ball club. He's likely to be trade-bait if he can somehow find what made him successful when he first came up.

7 Brayan Pena C - Jason Kendall will start the season on the DL so Pena is likely to get the nod as the primary catcher. He isn't great at anything, but he's good enough to play the position and he's a significantly better hitter than Kendall. He and Lucas May will be vying for the role of "guy who isn't dropped" when Kendall makes his inevitable return to the team.

8 Chris Getz 2B - He's fast and a fantastic base stealer. Unfortunately Getz hasn't gotten on base enough to make use of that skill. He's a good defensive second baseman, but if he can't hit any better than he's shown so far in his career he'll be relegated to a utility role in short order.

9 Alcides Escobar SS - Prior to the 2010 season Escobar was considered the best shortstop prospect in baseball. His meager batting line of .235/.288/.326 knocked him down a peg, but it's not unusual for a 23 year old rookie to struggle at the plate in his rookie season. Its also one of the reasons the Brewers were willing to let him go in the Greinke trade. Scouts say his defense could be Gold Glove caliber, so he won't have to improve his batting line too much to make him a valuable player.

It's not a lineup that will strike fear in many pitchers, but there are a lot of young talented players who could take a step forward in 2011. A lot of "ifs" will have to happen for the team to be a top ranked offense, however they should improve as the season moves on and top prospects like Mike Moustakas begin to make an impact. I don't believe it's going out on a limb to say this could be the best offensive Royals team in at least the last five years, but it's been a bad five years.

Nick Scott is a contributor to Royals Authority and is the host of the Broken Bat Single Royals podcast, you can follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.


Royals 7 years ago

I hope Lorenzo Cain will be starting most days in any outfield spot.

Nick Scott 7 years ago

I do too, but it looks like he'll start the season in AAA probably. He will be given the CF spot at some point, but not until Melky is floundering or has been traded to a contender. Cain hasn't spent that much time at the AAA level, so it isn't the worst thing in the world. However, it's time for the Royals to find out if he's the CF of the future and they can't do that in AAA.

brew_crew122 7 years ago

I was hoping they could find a spot for Dyson. When he gets on base, he can fly.

Nick Scott 7 years ago

I'm a huge dyson fan. He made one of the best plays I've ever seen when I was at Northwest Arkansas for a game. I'm not sure his bat can play at the Major League level since he hasn't hit too well in the minors.

I think he has an outside shot of making the team out of ST, but I'll be surprised if he isn't up with the Royals for at least some of the season this year. i'm partial to speed guys, so I hope he gets another shot too.

sr80 7 years ago

As soon as the season start the Royals will be lucky to go 500 !!! Sorry but that's the way it is!!!

Nick Scott 7 years ago

Agreed, this team will be lucky to be .500 in the 2010 season. That doesn't mean that this season can't be intriguing. The minor league prospects will begin to filter to the majors. The lineup should be improved and I believe the pitching will also be improved, somewhat due to an improved defense.

So yes, the Royals aren't likely to be a great team in 2010, but that's not news.

sr80 7 years ago

hopefully they don't go trading butler away,to me they kinda seem like a farm club for the Major money teams i.e. yanks, Boston !!!

Nick Scott 7 years ago

The Royals haven't traded a player to the Yankees or Red Sox in a long time. They just signed Billy Butler to a contract extension. There's no reason to believe that butler will be traded any time soon. There's also no facts to support that the Royals have been a "farm club for the major money teams"

The royals have traded some players, but there hasn't really been a player other than possibly David Dejesus who the Royals traded that they should've or could've signed in the last decade or so. I know that the talking point is repeated often, but in general it isn't accurate. I understand the sentiment, but it's not really correct.

Royals 7 years ago

I'm trying to think of a Royal that has left/traded who has gone on to be greatly missed. Especially pitchers. The Royals haven't developed any other than Grienke and he's only had one great year which might be a fluke since he now thinks he's a basketball player.

Ian Brown 7 years ago

Beltran, Dye, and Damon are the obvious three. John Buck put up solid numbers last year, and I know I'm going to miss David DeJesus. I think DeJesus is one of the most underrated players in the MLB. He wasn't the quickest, but he always got a great jump on the ball right off the bat, and had great instincts. I'll never forget the running/flying/diving/rolling catch he made at Yankee Stadium a few years ago. He ended up injuring his shoulder on the play and missed the rest of the season, but the Yankee fans even gave him a standing ovation as he walked off the field, as they recognized what a great play he'd made. Ironically, he injured himself while attempting another great catch at New Yankee Stadium last season.

Nick Scott 7 years ago

That's nearly a decade ago, and neither beltran nor damon was going to re-sign. Not to mention the Royals could have re-signed either of them a few months after trading them.

Dye, that was a huge mistake.

Buck wasn't traded, but I do believe the Royals should have re-signed him instead of Kendall.

I'll miss Dejesus too, I agree he was underrated. Again, the Royals can re-sign him after this season if they want to and Dejesus wants to come back. They'll only miss him for one season.

The funny thing is that none of those players were traded to the Red Sox or Yankees, yet everyone acts like they were.

Ricky_Vaughn 7 years ago

Beltran had the best years of his career in KC. Davy was nice and all, but LFs who hit 10 HRs stink.

Nick Scott 7 years ago

The reality is that the Royals tried to sign Greinke to another contract extension, but he wouldn't do it. There wasn't enough money in the world to get Greinke to re-sign. Trading him was their only option and doing it now maximized his value. I'll miss him, as he was one of my favorite Royals of all time, but their hands were tied. That doesn't excuse the fact that one reason Greinke left was because of the terrible Major League teams he was forced to play on.

Raul Ibanez was a guy they didn't re-sign but possibly shoul've. But that was a long shot he'd continue to hit at the level he has.

Trading Jermaine Dye was a complete mistake and it's undefendable.

Other than that, I'm also at a loss for who the Royals traded but should've kept. Their problem has been developing great talent from within, not keeping the talent they've developed. People keep going back to Damon and Beltran, but neither were likely to re-sign with the Royals and that was nearly 7 years ago at this point.

Nick Scott 7 years ago

I can't recall if that is true or not, but Ibanez wasn't young and had a breakout season. Betting that it wasn't going to happen again wasn't the worst idea at the time. Yeah, it backfired, but that happens.

Nick Scott 7 years ago

He was traded to the Athletics and that was after he stated that he wasn't going to re-sign with the Royals. That was also 7 or so years ago. Not very recent.

sr80 7 years ago

sorry for late reply! I think all that people are saying is these guys are still around and being productive.There has to be some problem why these players go!

sr80 7 years ago

What about Grienke,that was a total loss.I don't see how he could be worth that much.Where is some common sense?!

Nick Scott 7 years ago

I'm not sure I understand your comment. Are you saying the Royals got a good return for Greinke? If so, i agree. Not sure what you mean by "total loss". Could you expound on that?

sr80 7 years ago

last year he was terrible! like 10-15,his emotional problems,all the royals did was get him prepared for big time! which is what he got.Oh Well!

Nick Scott 7 years ago

I really have no idea what you are saying. Greinke was one of the best pitchers in the American League. He didn't have emotional problems last year either.

sr80 7 years ago

you are such a loyal fan you can see no wrong! tell me of one player with that record that gets treated that good and leading the AL aint nothing to brag about!

Nick Scott 7 years ago

I honestly don't understand the words you are typing. But if you're referring to his win loss record, I don't care nor do I even know what it was. It's the least important and most skewed stat in the world of baseball. YOu won't ever hear me talk about pitcher wins other than to dissparage them in this blog. It's a confusing, convoluted stat with absolutely no value whatsoever.

Can't see no wrong? Trust me, I criticise all over the place and it's often deserved. Tos ay that Greinke wasn't good in 2010 is beyond incorrect and so I'll call that out. He was extremely good.

"leading the AL ain't nothing to brag about"

I understand all of those words, but the order you put them in makes no sense to me.

sr80 7 years ago

I give up! Thanks for your opinions,you definitely know Ball! Later!

sr80 7 years ago

O Yeah !!! The AL aint nothin!!!

Royals 7 years ago

I'm with Nick. I don't understand what you're trying to say sr80?

sr80 7 years ago

How come the Royals are so good in PS,but blow it as soon as the season starts !!!!

Ricky_Vaughn 7 years ago

Is that why until last year they won like 15 straight All-Star games?

Nick Scott 7 years ago

i liked Teahen as a person, but he was a below average player who didn't have the defensive ability to play to his bat. Trading him was a no-brainer even if the return was negligible. He hit .258/.327/.382 last year which underperformed every corner outfielder and third baseman that the Royals trotted out last year. He would've been a downgrade had they kept him.

Steve Jacob 7 years ago

I think the Royals success will not carry over, they just don't have the arms. The line-up looks fine, Francouer is not hitting at all, so he might be first out, but Escobar can be a great player. The future looks good, but I am not sold on the pitching prospects yet.

But I guess you never know, if the Twins don't start well, and the Royals are .500 and the break, they have money to spend.

Nick Scott 7 years ago

The Royals are pretty loaded with prospect arms. Between montgomery, lamb, duffy, crow, arguellas and dwyer they are set up pretty well.

Will they be a big impact in 2011, no. But beyond that they should be solid contributors. Yeah they could flame out or get injured but as we stand today they are looking very good.

Francoeur is not good, but he won't be here past this year and might be on the bench by the all-star break. 2011 is the beginning of things, not the middle. I dont' expect them to contend, but I do expect to see improvement.

Branden Bell 7 years ago

Who do you think gets replaced first: Cabrera or Francoeur? Cabrera is young and tearing up ST, and Francoeur can't bat his way out of a paper bag.

And when they do get replaced, who comes up first: Dyson or Cain? I don't think Cain has options left, which leads me to believe it'll be him that gets the 4OF role.

Nick Scott 7 years ago

They're both pretty young, Francoeur is only a year older than Melky. I don't know which will get replaced first, but if cabrera can do anything in the regular season like he's doing in ST, then he stays longer. However, there is a CF or two breathing down his neck, that isn't really the case in RF. So I say it's a tossup.

I think cain comes up before Dyson, at least for full-time duty. Dyson may come up to fill a bench spot if there's an injury but I don't see him as an everyday player. Cain does have options remaining, possibly more than one.

Branden Bell 7 years ago

How many bases you think Butler's going to steal? He's gotten 3 in 3 attempts so far, and everyone says he's in the best shape of his life. Threat to increase his speed?

Nick Scott 7 years ago

I'll put the over/under a 1.5. I don't think he will try to steal many during the season and I hope he really doesn't try. I don't believe he has increased his speed much, and if he has it's not enough to start stealing bases. He needs to sit on the base he earned and wait for someone to knock him in.

Nick Scott 7 years ago

I do think they can win 75, but I'd put that as close to the upside. they might finish last, but I don't think they are the worst team in the division. But again, this isn't the year to think contention. They're building towards something. It takes time, but things seem to be falling into place.

llama726 7 years ago

It's hard to keep having patience after so many years of pain in this city. However, we can see a clear difference between the temporary successes of the past and what we have now. In order to sweeten the deal for a big FA signing though, I think we need to have a convincing year this year, or else we'll end up paying 3y/36mil for another Guillen.

Nick Scott 7 years ago

llama, I think you get it. Yes, it's incredibly hard to keep having patience. But you see what I see. This is different. Sure it could implode, but for now it looks great.

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