Royals' report card yields high grades

By Steve Sell
October 31, 2014

It’s report card time for the Kansas City Royals.

Considering the team came up one run and 90 feet short of sending World Series Game 7 to extra innings, this was a team of scholars. There are a lot of high grades given, though not everybody will be pleased.

The players listed were on the World Series roster or contributed significantly to the Royals’ amazing run.

• C — Salvador Perez. A true warrior and a great defensive catcher. Will probably win a Gold Glove and he provided some homer pop. Once he figures out that he doesn’t have to swing at every pitch, he’s a superstar. Grade — A -

• C — Erik Kratz. If you’re a backup to Perez, you don’t get many chances to play. Grade — C

• 1B — Eric Hosmer. Hosmer hit only nine home runs and quite often got himself out by being overanxious and off balance. But he had a big postseason and is a fine glove man. Grade — B -

• 2B — Omar Infante. Infante’s season was hindered by a bad shoulder, but he was still a clutch RBI man and a solid glove at second. Grade — B

• SS – Alcides Escobar. Great bounceback year for Escobar, who gave the Royals’ brass some anxious moments with his lousy 2013 season. Never had a terrible slump and was sensational in the field. Grade — A -

• 3B — Mike Moustakas. His five postseason home runs erased the stench of a forgettable season. He’s never going to hit for a high average because he stubbornly tries to pull every pitch and can be erratic in the field. He’ll probably get one more year to prove his worth. Grade — C -

• LF — Alex Gordon. Gordon played like he was out of gas at the end of the year. He was a streaky hitter whose power dried up after August. He’ll win another Gold Glove for his play in left field. Grade — B

• CF — Lorenzo Cain. A breakout season for Cain, who hovered around .300 all year and made a spate of highlight-reel catches. All that keeps him from being a straight-A is his surprising lack of power. Grade — A -

• RF — Nori Aoki. Until September, he was a bust. He caught fire at a time when the other Royals were struggling. Wasn’t the on-base machine as advertised and chances are he probably won’t be back as he’s a free agent and the Royals need some pop at his position. Grade —C

• OF — Jarrod Dyson. “Speed Do” was a crackup with his comments and confidence. He gave the Royals an infusion of enthusiasm at times, but also was frustrating with some of his baserunning and throwing gaffes. But he’s a good fourth outfielder, though not starting material. Grade — C+

• OF — Terrance Gore. We don’t really know what he can do, but he sure can run. Grade — Incomplete.

DH — Billy Butler. A long, tough year for Butler, whose power disappeared and he  couldn’t seem to get the ball in the air. He’s a free agent, but it’s hard to imagine the Royals without him. Maybe this year was an aberration. Grade — C

DH — Josh Willingham. Showed a good eye and always gave a professional at bat, but really never made the impact that was expected. He’ll be elsewhere next year. Grade — C -

DH — Raul Ibanez. A great clubhouse guy. That was about it, as he had only one big hit that I can remember. Grade — C-

U — Christian Colon. I wish he’d seen a little more time. He never did anything to hurt the Royals and can play a number of positions. Grade — B

U — Johnny Giavotella. With the emergence of Colon, don’t look for Gio to be around much longer. He can’t seem to translate his minor league success to the majors. Grade — C-

U — Jayson Nix. Did he ever get a hit with the Royals? Grade — D

SP — James Shields. Shields’ grade has to encompass his leadership. He struggled terribly the final two months, but always gave a total effort. He won’t be back unless he takes a discount. Grade — B

SP — Yordano Ventura. If he stays healthy and develops a consistent curveball, the sky is the limit. Grade — A-

SP — Jason Vargas. Gave the Royals just what they signed him for — an innings eater and competent No. 3 man in the rotation. Grade — B

SP — Danny Duffy. He was better than his record, but looked hurt late in the year. He has a problem with keeping calm, but no question the talent is there. Grade — B -

SP — Jeremy Guthrie. At times he looks like the most hittable pitcher in baseball and at times he’s a surgeon by hitting the corners. Feast or famine. Grade — C+

RP — Brandon Finnegan. He pitched in both the College World Series and in the World Series for the Royals. Only one bad outing all year and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. But throw that one out. A possible starter next year. Grade — A -

RP — Aaron Crow. Tough year for Crow as he was wild, had reduced velocity and couldn’t keep the ball in the park. Couldn’t be trusted in a high-stress situation. Grade — C-

RP — Tim Collins. He was a left-handed Crow. Grade — C-

RP — Louis Coleman. Left off the postseason roster. Did well against righties, but lefties wore him out. Grade — C -

RP — Francisely Bueno — Had his moments, but was forgotten by September. Grade — C

RP — Kelvin Herrera — The best seventh-inning pitcher in baseball. Grade — A

RP — Wade Davis — The best eighth-inning pitcher in baseball. Grade — A

RP — Greg Holland — The best ninth-inning pitcher in baseball. Grade — A

RP — Jason Frasor — A nice pickup. Might be kept around for one more year. Grade —B

RP — Scott Downs — Didn’t really contribute much. Grade — C-

Manager — Ned Yost. For all his strange moves and bluntness with the media, you get a team in the seventh game of the World Series and you must be doing something right. Grade — A-