© Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Vern's Weekly Report Card

Our Royals Insider hands out the grades

Josh Vernier
July 24, 2017 - 12:08 am
Categories: 

**Check back each Monday morning for the latest Vern's Report Card**

THE RACE FOR ROYALS TEAM MVP 

  • 1st - Jason Vargas (1)
    • has come back down to Earth recently, but still sports A.L.'s 4th-best ERA
  • 2nd - Eric Hosmer (2)
    • on and off the field, he's been as steady as anyone on the team
  • 3rd - Mike Moustakas (4)
    • slugging .563 in the six-spot is jump-starting the 7-8-9 hitters
  • 4th - Lorenzo Cain (3)
    • The straw that stirs the drink has an OPS of .928 in wins, .567 in losses
  • 5th - Salvador Perez (5)
    • plays a premium position, so edges Merrifield for now

OFFENSE - (C-) 

(LAST WEEK - C-) The home runs have been a lot of fun for fans at Kauffman Stadium, but the most encouraging thing I've seen of late has been the offense's ability to capitalize on the opposition's mistakes. The Tigers made a pair of errors in the first inning of Thursday's game, leading to a pair of Royals runs. It's easy to say that Detroit spotted the Royals two runs, but some credit must be given to Perez and Jorge Bonifacio for battling at the plate, putting the ball in play and forcing the action.

At points over the past week-plus, the home plate umpire has had their questionable moments and the offense has looked lost at times, but for the most part the lineup has offered the possibility of extra-base power from one-through-nine. The resurgence of Brandon Moss in July (.326/.392/.630) has given this team the power boost that they've expected since Spring Training and has eliminated the final 'black hole' in the lineup.

With all that being said, this offense still sits third-to-last in the American League in OPS and remains very Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Being consistent at the plate is the toughest thing to do in all of sports, and the hot-and-cold nature of the entire Royals lineup remains a testament to that fact.

DEFENSE - (A)

(LAST WEEK - A) Whit Merrifield is starting to look like a Gold Glove second baseman.

Four Royals starters have already won Gold Gloves.

Cain and Moose have Gold Glove ability, and now with Whit is starting to flash above-average leather the Royals have some of the game's best defenders at seven of the eight positions. Only Detroit's Ian Kinsler has more defensive runs saved at second base than Merrifield. By my count he made highlight reel, note-worthy plays in seven of the ten games on this recent homestand, including one while manning right field.

As strange as it is to say, this may be the best defense fielded by the Royals in this current era.

The instincts and experience of Alcides Escobar and Alex Gordon have them playing as well as ever. They both seem to always be in the proper position, and neither one is wasting many steps in the field.

STARTING PITCHING - (B-)

(LAST WEEK - B+) Jason Vargas has surprised most baseball fans for a majority of the season, but if his regression continues, the Royals rotation becomes very average.

This is the lowest grade of the season for this unit. The duct tape and glue isn't working anymore for the five-spot in this rotation.

There isn't a more important piece to the postseason chances of this team than Ian Kennedy. He was originally slated to be this team's #2 starter, but with the emergence of Vargas and the injury to Kennedy's hamstring, suddenly some fans forgot what was, and is still, expected of this team's second-highest paid player. He needs to be this team's Game 2 starter.

RELIEF PITCHING - (B)

(LAST WEEK - B-) While the rotation earns its lowest grade of the season, the bullpen warrants its highest mark of 2017.

Royals relievers have a 2.19 ERA in July, including 18.1 scoreless innings over the last four games. 

It's not the automatic bullpen that we've been spoiled by for the last four years, but it's as deep as any group this city has seen in the last four years.

BASE RUNNING - (B)

(LAST WEEK - B) Salvador Perez is stealing bases, y'all. 

Two hallmarks of this era of Royals baseball are stolen bases and taking the extra base. Perez has done both over the past week.

Toying with the opposing pitcher has been specialty of Royals base-runners throughout the years. Whit Merrifield is the latest the specialize in such activities. The former South Carolina standout played with Texas' Martin Perez last Friday, inducing three pick-off attempts, and culminating in an RBI single from Jorge Bonifacio.

Furthermore, only Lorenzo Cain is better than Merrifield at going first-to-third, with apologies to Escobar and Hosmer.

MANAGING - (A-)

(LAST WEEK - A-) Salvador Perez is feeling fresh, y'all.

Ned's usage of his All-Star catcher has allowed him to steal bases in late July.

Ned's usage of his bullpen has allowed me to call it the deepest group in four years.

Ned's attitude and positivity is the genesis of this group's resilience and never-say-die mindset.

Comments ()
By signing up, I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.