It's my annual report card time for the Kansas City Royals.
When you go from World Champions to playoff spectators, it only makes sense for some of the grades to drop from last year.
The Royals grinded it out this year to achieve a modicum of success, but too many injuries, lack of consistent pitching and not enough offensive thump did the team in. It also was a streaky team, with the final eight games proof of that. The Royals won four, then gave it all back in the final four games to finish at .500 at 81-81.
The teacher has spoken. The grades:
1B — Eric Hosmer. He drove in more than 100 runs and had a career high in homers. His batting average tailed considerably after the All-Star break as he at times lost patience. A good year, but I expect more given his physical tools. Grade — B.
2B — Whit Merrifield. Unless the Royals plan on making Cheslor Cuthbert a second baseman, the job may be Merrifield’s to lose because Raul Mondesi Jr. is just not ready offensively. A jack-of-all-trades, good guy to have. Grade — B.
2B — Raul Mondesi Jr. As mentioned above, he’s overmatched at the plate at this point and may have been rushed too soon as he's only 21. Very slick fielder and blinding speed. But if he can’t hit, he can’t play as he strikes out at an alarming rate. Grade — C -
2B — Omar Infante. Did his skills ever diminish fast. Was so bad the Royals ate id="mce_marker"1 million by cutting him. Grade — D.
SS — Alcides Escobar. His lack of patience still drives me crazy, but he finished very strong for a good offensive year and has few peers defensively. Grade — B+
3B — Mike Moustakas. Was off to great start before the injury that changed the Royals’ season forever. Grade — Incomplete.
3B — Cheslor Cuthbert. Probably the most improved player, came out of nowhere. Fatigued the final month, but was a nice addition. Grade — A-.
C — Salvador Perez. Had a great first half, but was exhausted the last 6 weeks by the workload of the last two seasons. He is just so impatient at the plate that he gets himself out more than pitchers get him out. Still a defensive marvel. Grade — B.
LF — Alex Gordon. A lost year. The injury on the Moustakas play wrecked his season and he never got back into the groove. Makes all the plays defensively, but has definitely lost a step. Not much from a guy who was paid id="mce_marker"8 million. Grade — D.
CF — Lorenzo Cain. This season shows why’s he probably the team’s most indispensable player. When he’s in the lineup, the Royals are a different team. But he reverted to his old injury-plagued days of pre-2014. Grade — B.
RF — Paulo Orlando. Had a great year, but must prove he’s not a one-hit wonder. But for this year he far exceeded expectations. Wish he could hit more homers though. Grade — A-.
DH — Kendrys Morales. A monster second half boosted his grade. If the Royals can bring him back for one year, that would be great. Will command too much money though. Grade — B.
OF — Jarod Dyson. You just have to wonder if he’s played his last game in a Royals uniform. With Billy Burns having been acquired who does similar things — he’s also younger and cheaper — Speed Do may be out the door. Grade — C+.
OF — Billy Burns. Did a lot of sitting after being acquired. Jury is still out. Grade — Incomplete.
OF — Rey Fuentes. Started on Opening Day, hit a singles-heavy .317 and was out of the organization by the end of the year. Grade — Incomplete.
C — Drew Butera. Had his best year by far. Always did all the little things. Should probably have played more, but Ned Yost hates to take Salvador Perez out of the lineup. Grade — A-.
Utility — Christian Colon. Still reveling in his big World Series hit from last year. Just one of those guys who’s there. Doesn’t do much to hurt you, but doesn’t do much to help. The Royals need to either play him at second base or move him so he can play for somebody who wants to start him. Grade — C.
Pinch runner — Terrance Gore. He’s exciting, but until he can hit he’s a luxury you can’t have until Sept. 1. Grade — C.
Utility — Hunter Dozier. Was up in September mainly as a spectator. A former No. 1 draft pick who looks more and more like a bust. Grade — Incomplete.
Utility — Brett Eibner. An old rookie who fetched Billy Burns in return. Might be a good deal for KC. Grade — C.
Utility — Daniel Nava. Was this year's Johnny Gomes. Won't be around next year. Grade — Incomplete.
C — Tony Cruz. You had to look real hard to see that he played. Grade — Incomplete.
P — Yordano Ventura. An enigma. Looks great one night, combusts the next. No consistency at all. He needs to take the next step or will forever be about a 12-win pitcher. Grade — C.
P — Edinson Volquez. It was painful to watch for one of the best character guys on the team. Grade — D.
P — Ian Kennedy. Once he quit giving up bombs, he was pretty darn good. If his first half was as good as his second, he’d been worth the money. Grade — B-.
P — Danny Duffy. I never thought he’d develop into the pitcher he turned into. Now has to back it up. But for this year... Grade — A.
P — Dillon Gee. A soft tosser who was handed the No. 5 spot. Just doesn’t have enough zip to be effective. Grade — C-.
P — Chris Young. The Royals are stuck with his contract for another year. Really struggled, but has the intellect to adjust next year. Grade — D.
P — Kris Medlen. Never heard from again after he was injured early. A signing that I thought would pan out, but never did. Grade — F.
P — Jason Vargas. Only pitched three games as he basically missed the year recovering from Tommy John. Slot him in the No. 4 spot next year. Grade — Incomplete.
P — Peter Moylan. Had a great final 6 weeks. Probably won’t be back. Grade — C.
P — Brian Flynn. Big guy who tosses soft pillows. Grade — C.
P — Luke Hochevar. Broke down again for the second time in three years. You have to wonder if this is the end. Grade — C.
P — Matt Strahm. A nice find over the final 6 weeks. Could be the key lefty out of the pen next year. Grade — A-.
P — Kelvin Herrera. Still one of the best setup men in the game, but was exhausted in September that skewed his numbers. Grade — B.
P — Wade Davis. One of the best closers there is, but two stints on the DL makes you wonder if we’ve seen his better days. Grade — B.
P — Joakim Soria. Ugh. Super flop for the money he was lavished. Grade — F.
P — Scott Alexander — Didn’t do much to distinguish himself. Grade — C.
P — Chen Mieng Wang — Had a 6-0 record at the time he was released. Sometimes was the right guy in the right place. But other than that a mop-up man. Grade — C.
P — Kevin McCarthy — Got a late look, but needs to show more. Grade — C.
P — Brooks Pounders — Appropriately named. Got pounded most of the times he pitched. Grade — F.
P — Alec Mills. Pitched in three games and had a 13.50 ERA. Grade — F.
Manager — Ned Yost. He is what he is. He’s a player’s manager. Sometimes I don’t agree with his strategy, but with all the injuries did a great job. Grade — B+.
General Manager — Dayton Moore. Everything he touched turned to gold the last two years, but not so much this year. Did little at the trade deadline to make the team better, believing the guys he had could make another run. Had better find another starting pitcher and a power bat in the outfield, especially if Morales isn’t re-signed. Has a lot of decisions to make on a lot of fan favorites and some may not be popular. Grade — B-.