Hey Now, You’re an All-Star: How I Went Through the Possible Royals All-Star Selections & Loathed Smash Mouth

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This Saturday Major League Baseball will announce the selections to the 2013 All-Star Game that will be played at Citi Field on July 16th. This is always a rough road if you are a Kansas City Royals fan, as for years we can expect just one selection to the game, and sometimes it’s not even someone we want to cheer for(I’m looking at you, Mark Redman). In fact 2003 was the last year that the Royals had more than just one selection. A full listing shows that before Billy Butler was chosen last year, the Royals hadn’t even had a position player get selected since Mike Sweeney in 2005. To say we’ve had some lean years would be an understatement. So with the selections just a coupe days away, let’s look at some possible selections for the Royals and what the odds are they will get selected. Also, make sure Smash Mouth is running through your head while you read this.

1) Alex Gordon

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A month ago, this seemed like a lock. Most of us are aware that Gordon has been one of the most underrated players in baseball. Most of us can agree that A1 should have been selected for the All-Star Game back in 2011. Instead, Gordon is still searching for his first appearance, and this really seemed like the year it could happen. That is if the last month hadn’t been such a train wreck. While the Royals shook up their coaching staff and paid more attention to struggling youngsters Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, Gordon numbers took a taildive. The fact that his numbers are still pretty good are a sign of just how good of a season Gordon was having. Gordon was so far ahead of the rest of the team statistically that it almost seemed like as long as we had Alex, anything could happen. A month later and now there is a big question mark as to whether or not Alex will get selected for the mid-summer classic. Like last year, when Billy Butler seemed deserving just as much on past play as his play in the first half of the season, Gordon should be selected just as much on his consistency over the last few years. I would say at this point there is still a chance Alex Gordon could be the Kansas City Royals All-Star selection.

2) Salvador Perez

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He hits. He throws. He leads the pitching staff. He blocks balls that no one else should even be near. He can jump buildings in a single bound…okay, maybe not that last one…I think. Salvador Perez might be the most complete Royal in a long, long time. As much as experts have touted Hosmer over the last few years as being a building block of this franchise, Perez is THE building block of this and future Royals teams. Perez’s argument for an All-Star selection is easy to see, but his biggest problem won’t be a slump, or even him missing some time due to a death in the family. No, Salvy’s biggest detriment against him going to Citi Field this month is who else could be picked behind the dish for the American League. Joe Mauer looks like he will get the fans vote. There is a good shot that Baltimore’s Matt Wieter’s will get in, and even a chance that Cleveland’s Carlos Santana could be an All-Star selection. If you counting on your fingers, that is three possible American League catchers on this team, and I highly doubt they will go for a fourth. Hey, there is still a chance Perez could get picked; he is not the secret he once was around baseball. Baseball people have noticed how good Salvy is and realize how good he is going to be for the forseeable future. But he might have to wait one more year. So we could see Salvy come July 16th; but don’t be surprised if he barely get’s passed over.

3) James Shields

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I know, I know. The numbers just aren’t really there for James Shields. Actually, he is the perfect example of how the ‘wins’ statistic is an overrated stat. The Royals so far just haven’t been very supportive of him offensively. The numbers stress that fact. But most of us Royals fans can agree that Shields has probably been the best pitcher on the revamped Royals pitching staff. When you consider that Shields pitched with a lead last week against Minnesota, it was the first time since April he had pitched with a lead of more than one run. One run. Shields has been as hard luck as they come. So despite the lack of run support, he is still worth being mentioned as a possible All-Star. He has pitched like the ace the Royals wanted him to be, and he has kept this team floating around .500 like they were hoping to be. Players and coaches can look past won-loss records if you are pitching magnificiently. Just ask Zack Greinke of 2009. Shields would be another case and I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see him selected for this year’s All-Star game.

4) Ervin Santana

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When Dayton Moore acquired Ervin Santana last winter, who would have thought he was in the conversation for an All-Star selection? Raise your hands. Not so fast, slap-nuts. Very few could have seen this coming. In fact I thought he would be injured by now. Goes to show you what I know. But Ervin has pitched above and beyond what we all expected, and has been a big part of why the Royals are still in the conversation in the American League Central. Santana has dealt with run support issues like Shields, but it hasn’t deterred him as much. Santana has averaged 7 innings a start this year and no one would have seen that coming as well. When it comes down to it, Santana has just as good a case for selection here as Shields. In fact, I am willing to say I think there is a great chance Ervin will be the selection for the Royals this year. If so, it will be a bonus for the Royals. If this happens, I can easily see Kansas City shipping him off at the trade deadline, flipping him for a bat in the outfield. Santana’s stock goes up if he is selected, and that might just be another reason why you could see him in New York on July 16th.

5) Greg Holland

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Remember that first week of the season? Remember all the “Royals fans” who wanted Holland gone? This is why that never happened and why certain “fans” should never be allowed to make decisions like that. Outside of that first week and a few very small hiccups, Greg Holland has been lights out for the Royals. Like insanely lights out. Go ahead, look at the strikeouts per 9 number. 15.1!!  31 innings, 52 strikeouts. I believe we call that dealing. Holland has been the steady closer the team has needed this year out of the pen, and the team has been rewarded for their patience. With those numbers, no one could blame Jim Leyland for picking him for the All-Star game. In fact, reading those numbers now makes me want him picked. Holland has made lots of fans ask ‘Joakim who‘ and showed why it was okay to let him leave this winter. Managers love relievers on the smaller teams for their All-Star selection, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see number 56 at Citi Field in just a few weeks.

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Sure, this All-Star game won’t mean as much to Royals fans, just because it isn’t in Kansas City. But it would still be a nice treat if more than one Royal could get selected. I tend to think it won’t happen, but there is an outside chance it could. It’s nice to know I can compile a list of five guys off this team that could have serious consideration. Tell me the last time that happened? Hopefully they’ll do the Royals justice and we’ll see more than the one selection at the mid-summer classic. Oh, and before I forget–to quote the band Smash Mouth: “all that glitters is gold, only shooting stars break the mold.”  Then again, don’t listen to them; they also have the lyrics “your brain gets smart but your head gets dumb.” Idiots.

 

The Good, The Bad…and Even Better

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We are seven games into the Kansas City Royals 2013 season, and the Royals sit above .500 with a 4-3 record. Not only that, but we were rewarded with a great come from behind victory yesterday for the home opener at ‘The K’. You can’t blame us Royals fans if we are bit giddy at this point. But we also know the season has just begun, and most of the stats early on don’t mean a whole lot. This would be called the textbook definition of a small sample size. But we are seven games into it, so I thought I would take a look at the good, bad and ugly so far this season. The only problem? There hasn’t been anything overly ugly. So you are getting the even better! So before we start printing off playoff tickets, here are some realistic tidbits of the first seven games of the season.

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THE GOOD

-So far, the Royals pitching has been as good(if not better) than originally advertised. James Shields has had one great start and one solid start. Ervin Santana was roughed up a bit in Chicago but pitched beautifully yesterday in the home opener. Jeremy Guthrie got the team it’s first win of the season, and Luis Mendoza was throwing some nasty stuff in Saturday night’s game in Philadelphia. Wade Davis has really been the only guy who has not had a positive start to the season.   But above all this, the starting pitching has done what has been asked of them–eat up innings. Last year, it seemed like the Royals were just happy to get through five innings and then hand it over to the bullpen. This year, every pitcher other than Davis has gone at least 6 innings a start before handing it over to the pen. If the Royals are serious about winning, and want to be in the playoff hunt, these guys have to do this all season. The starters have kept their team in the ball game, while at the same time put less pressure on the bullpen. So far, no Royals fan can really complain about the job these guys have put out there.

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-After the series in Philadelphia, it looks like the offense seems to have found it’s way. Now, let’s also be honest about this. It’s not like this Phillies pitching staff is the team that has made multiple playoff appearances over the last couple seasons, or even been in contention. In fact, their bullpen is a mess right now. But the Royals had a great offensive series against them, and then came home to get some clutch hits in the eighth inning yesterday, propelling the team to a victory. The offense isn’t kicking on all cylinders, as the series in Chicago can attest, as well as the seven innings Kevin Correia stifled them yesterday. From a personal standpoint, I think they could also take more pitches and work the count more. They seemed to do that a lot more of that in Philadelphia. But for the most part they are getting hits when it is needed and are getting the job done. I still worry that they are going to be inconsistent all season, but for now things seem to be working.

THE BAD

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-Greg Holland has been as close to a sure thing as the Royals have had over the last couple years. But Saturday night, he struggled to find the strike zone. He wasn’t off by much, but he was off enough to load the bases and eventually lose the game for the Royals that night. Sunday, he came in, struggled again and was given the hook by Ned Yost. Kelvin Herrera came in and gave up a hit to Laynce Nix, letting another run score and even threw the ball away before finally closing the game and getting the win. I know there are some Royals fans that want Holland out of the closers role. Let’s not jump off the cliff just yet. He has had a couple of bad games, but you don’t just throw two seasons of almost lights out work out the window. It happens, especially to closers. But I think we all know that Herrera will eventually be the closer, as he has electric stuff and seemed the obvious heir apparent to Joakim Soria. Just not quite yet. The way the starters are going, we can’t have the bullpen coming in and ruining their good outings. I’m pretty sure Holland will get corrected, and we will all laugh about this before too long. But until then, Yost does have to be smart and pull someone if they are struggling, no matter their role. Just because he is your closer doesn’t mean you stick with him no matter what. That is old, outdated baseball thinking. I didn’t think the bullpen would be an issue at all for Kansas City, but right now it isn’t the strongest part of this team.

-Luke Hochevar. ‘Nuff said.

EVEN BETTER

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-The defense has been a rock so far on 2013. Through seven games, the Royals have yet to commit an error. To most of us, that isn’t really a surprise. This is a good defensive unit, even if the numbers don’t always spell that out. The shifts are still on (my son asked me the other day why Alcides Escobar was playing second. That went into a long conversation about infield shifts.) and Salvador Perez has been awesome behind the dish. If it weren’t for Matt Wieters, I would tell you Salvy will win a Gold Glove this year, but he might have to wait. It has also helped to have a healthy Lorenzo Cain out in the outfield. Alex Gordon and him make the other outfielder’s bad range less apparent. It is seven games, but not putting up any E’s on the scoreboard helps keep your team in the game. Amazing how a little pitching and defense can go a long way!

So there you go, just a few notes over the first week of the 2013 season. So far, the Royals are pushing the right buttons and making the right moves to put themselves where they want to be come September. It’s a long season folks, but one that will hopefully be a positive for our home team. I haven’t backed off my prediction for the team just yet, but get back with me at the end of May. Then we can have a discussion.

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