Sal Perez is OK, and four more guys the Royals can't afford to lose
The Kansas City Star
The Royals won a major league baseball game last night, even if it was against a glorified minor league team, and that’s great, takes the heat off for at least 24 hours, all that, yippee, but the best news of the day is here:
“(Sal Perez) has a deep bruise to his right hip but no structural damage or other longer-term issues.”
You think fans have been freaking out over a 3-11 slide? Well, they have, of course, but that would’ve been a birthday party compared to Perez missing a big chunk of a second consecutive season.
The Royals have a lot going for them — yes, even still, calm down you guys — but that changes quickly if their greatest asset is rehabbing again.
Part of that reaction would come from the local newspaper columnist, who would argue that it makes no sense to play a catcher one year removed from major knee surgery, who you have locked up through 2019, upwards of 150 games especially when you have a good backup catcher.
But we don’t have to go down that path, at least not today, so here then is one satisfied man’s^ list of the top five man-these-guys-really-can’t-get-hurt-for-the-Royals-to-be-good guys:
^ Hope you had a Merry Saison-Brett day as well.
Alex Gordon. The face of the franchise and the symbol of everything they want to become is the Royals’ best player. He is a Gold Glove left fielder, a power threat, a terrific base runner who’s faster than many give him credit for, and, at the moment, a .352 hitter who’s on pace to surpass the 70 extra-base hits he had last year. You think the Royals’ offense has stunk this year? Well, it has. But imagine it without a guy who’s having the beginning of a legitimate MVP-type season.
James Shields. He’s been absolutely terrific. Giving up less than one baserunner per inning, four strikeouts for every walk, he’s given the bullpen the day off twice in his nine starts (and, yes, it should’ve/could’ve been three). He’s also the unwitting subject of this depressing stat: the Royals are 1-5 when Shields gives up two or fewer runs; 2-1 when he gives up three or more. We can talk about a lot of problems the Royals have had, but if they just would’ve supported their ace to an acceptable level, they’d be, say, 24-18 instead of 21-21.
Alcides Escobar. This is probably too high for a guy hitting .251/.279/.343, but I do think those numbers will rise a bit, and he still plays a premiere defensive position very well. Escobar missed his first start of the season last night, replaced by Elliot Johnson. I like Johnson a lot, he’s a very good utility guy, but if he had to go every day that’s a big dropoff at an important position for a team that needs to win with pitching and defense.
Ervin Santana. This could be Jeremy Guthrie, too, and if we went to a top six they’d probably both be on the list. I always liked Santana when he was with the Angels, but I like watching every day even more. He carries himself like the most confident guy on the field, and from his first pitch to his last basically does nothing but attack. That’s why he has 44 strikeouts against nine walks, and also why the low moments of his career (and season) are almost always marked by home runs. But either way, he’s averaging just a tick under seven innings per start with terrific results.