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Vern's Weekly Report Card

Our Royals Insider hands out the grades

Josh Vernier
September 11, 2017 - 12:08 am
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**Check back each Monday morning for the latest Vern's Report Card**

THE RACE FOR ROYALS TEAM MVP 

  • 1st - Eric Hosmer (1)
    • the face of the team, hitting .348/.415/.562 since the end of April
  • 2nd - Lorenzo Cain (2)
    • the straw that stirs the drink, closing in on a third season of hitting .300
  • 3rd - Whit Merrifield (4)
    • finally found a solution at second base and at the lead-off spot
  • 4th - Mike Moustakas (3)
    • the heart of the team, painful to watch him play, but the power threat remains
  • 5th - Salvador Perez (5)
    • the soul of the team, it's not hard to remember how rough it was without him

OFFENSE - (D+) 

(LAST WEEK - D+) It's tough to grade this offense.

On one hand, the group ranks 12th in the American League with a .735 OPS and has had disappointing seasons from Alex Gordon, Brandon Moss, Alcides Escobar and Jorge Soler.

On the other hand, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas are having the best seasons of their careers, Whit Merrifield has been a revelation and Lorenzo Cain, Melky Cabrera, Jorge Bonifacio and Salvador Perez have been very good.

I say it all the time: Baseball mirrors life. It's never black-and-white. Baseball, like life, resides in the gray area. 

This offense is a perfect example. It's not good, but there's a lot of good within the lineup.

DEFENSE - (B+)

(LAST WEEK - B+) The theme set with the offense continues with the defense.

Alex Gordon made the home-run-robbing catch Monday in Detroit and the wall-crashing catch Sunday at Kauffman, but he also allowed a flyball to fall between him and Escobar on Thursday, which ultimately cost the Royals the game and a chance to win the series against the Twins.

If Gordo is going to hit .200, he must, and mean MUST make EVERY routine play and most of the sensational plays.

I understand that seems like an unfair request in a game of failure like baseball, but when you have the contract and the clout that he does, he must do something extraordinary to offset the lesser than offense.

Defensively though, this team remains strong. Paulo Orlando made a very nice catch at the wall on Sunday, Lorenzo Cain saved a pair of runs on Monday with a sliding catch in Detroit, Ramon Torres and Eric Hosmer teamed up for a terrific play on Thursday and Alcides Escobar showed off some range to start a terrific double play on Friday.

STARTING PITCHING - (C-)

(LAST WEEK - C) The reasons are well-known. 

The passing of Yordano Ventura. 

The season-ending injury to Nathan Karns.

The nagging injuries to Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy and Trevor Cahill.

The expected regression of Jason Vargas.

We know the reasons, but the numbers speak for themselves.

RELIEF PITCHING - (C)

(LAST WEEK - C) In my opinion, this may be the most disappointing facet of the team.

It was my expectation following the acquisitions of Ryan Buchter and Brandon Maurer that the competition for the 'big-time roles' in that bullpen would bring the best out of everyone.

Instead, most of these arms seemed to wilt under the pressure.

They've all had their moments of promise, though. The moments that make you believe this bullpen could be the strength of the team. Unfortunately, those moments are normally followed with an implosion. 

I understand bullpen arms have always run hot-and-cold, but it sure does feel like the 'hot' only runs for a few innings at a time.

BASE RUNNING - (B)

(LAST WEEK - B) There wasn't much to highlight from this week.

Whit Merrifield inched closer to joining Jarrod Dyson, Alcides Escobar and Carlos Beltran has the only Royals to steal 30 bases in the last 14 years.

Mike Moustakas grinding through the pain to score from first base on an Escobar triple on Wednesday was impressive. The next time you head out to the ballpark, watch Moose when the team takes the field in the first inning. He's limping before the game even starts.

MANAGING - (A-)

(LAST WEEK - A-) I'll give Ned Yost this much. He's not conceding anything.

I have to respect his unyielding belief in the comeback-ability of his team. 

For example, Friday night his team fell behind, 6-2, in the fifth inning against Minnesota. Ian Kennedy left the game with a shoulder issue in the third, and it was obvious that Trevor Cahill didn't have it. 

But, instead of waiving the white flag, Ned continued to make those trips to the mound, trying his best to keep his team in it, to give his team a chance. He turned it over to Ryan Buchter, and his offense scored three more runs to make it a game again.

The Royals ultimately lost the game, but the unwillingness to admit defeat was admirable.

Hear Ned Yost every Wednesday morning at 9:00 CT and Dayton Moore every Friday morning at 8:30 CT on Fescoe in the Morning. (PODCASTS)

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