Reviewing the disappointing seasons of Bubba Starling, Trevor Bauer, Gary Sanchez, Francisco Lindor, and others.
This week's theme: prospects who disappointed in 2013.
Gary Sanchez, catcher, Yankees (Double-A Trenton) We ranked Sanchez 47th in baseball coming into the season, and 26th overall in the mid-season update, but the latter had more to do with the promotion and attrition of his contemporaries than with his rising star. Sanchez is a frustrating prospect, one who possesses a high ceiling that comes at a high risk, and his performance in 2013 gave us a taste of both outcomes. The 20-year-old has the type of impact potential in the stick to warrant the high-6 OFP grade, but the makeup continues to produce mixed response, and despite owning some defensive skills, the overall projection behind the plate is cloudy. While it’s true that Sanchez is still extremely young and attempting to develop into a dual-threat player, the red flags in his game could limit his promise, both in the field and at the plate. He’s still a top 100 prospect in the game—and you can make a case for continued inclusion in the top 50—but his stock has slipped. —Jason Parks
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Good pitching hasn't prevented Kansas City's playoff odds from plummeting.
The Wednesday Takeaway
There may not be a truer baseball adage than “you can’t win if you don’t score.” The Royals, who have dropped seven of nine and fallen to 6 ½ games back in the American League wild card race, are learning that lesson the hard way.
Ned Yost’s club was shut out on Tuesday night, its first zero-run output since the 1-0 defeat to the Marlins that started this rut on August 13. Yesterday, the Royals scraped across exactly two runs for the third time since that loss. They have also scored one run once and three runs twice. Only once, in a 6-5 defeat at the hands of the Tigers on August 17, have they exceeded three tallies in a game.
The Tigers, Indians, and Royals have separated themselves from the Twins and White Sox, but which will emerge victorious?
The Thursday Takeaway
Were it not for the wholeheartedly rebuilding Astros, whose record is 36-70 but whose future gets a few watts brighter with every trade, no division would have a greater gap between first and last place than the American League Central, where the Tigers are at the top and the White Sox are at the bottom. That gap has grown wider in recent days, as the Tigers, Indians, and Royals have surged, leaving the Twins and White Sox in their dust.
The top three teams in the Central have won a combined 22 consecutive games—the Tigers five, the Indians eight, and the Royals nine. The bottom two have dropped 11 straight—the Twins four and the White Sox seven. Thus the Tigers are now two up on the Indians, who are 4 ½ up on the Royals, who are nine up on the Twins, who are 5 ½ half up on the White Sox. The gap from first to last is 21 games, exceeded only by the 26 ½-game chasm between the Athletics and Astros, but the margin between the contenders (generously counting the Royals, whose odds of reaching the playoffs are south of five percent) is as large as it is in any division, with the possible exception of the National League East, where the Nationals’ freefall has given the Braves a clear path to October.
What has happened to Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas since George Brett and Pedro Grifol took over
On May 30, following eight consecutive losses—only one in which they scored more than three runs—the Royals reassigned their hitting-coach tandem of Jack Maloof and Andre David to the minors, and in their places installed George Brett and Pedro Grifol. The switch happened shortly after Maloof became embroiled in a mini-controversy concerning Kansas City's putrid power production.
As far as players turned hitting coaches go, it's hard to find a larger contrast in career achievements than Brett and Grifol. Brett, a legend in Kansas City, led the American League in OPS three times over his 21 seasons in the majors Conversely, Grifol never reached the majors, and finished with a career minor-league OPS of .599. However uneven Brett's and Grifol's playing careers may have been, they joined the Royals with the same endgame in mind: fix the offense and, by extension, put Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas back on the right path.
Is the Royals' first baseman coming out of his slump, or still struggling?
On Sunday, a baseball broadcaster informed me (and you and everyone we know) that a player on the Kansas City Royals entered the game 10 for his previous 28. “That’s a .357 average, so he’s coming,” I was told.
Eric Hosmer hasn’t done much this year, and his inability to take the great leap forward is a big reason why Kansas City’s go-for-it plan has disappointed thus far. But a .357 average, that’s pretty high, and if he’s coming, maybe the Royals would have something. It’s easy to buy into Eric Hosmer’s .357 average. It’s just easy to buy into Eric Hosmer, all the time, despite how long it’s been since he was good. He used to be so good, after all. And .357! Maybe that .357 means something.