Friday, June 24, 2005

Progress of the Younglings

Clap your hands for The Youth Movement, starring Mark Teahen, John Buck, Ruben Gotay and a cast of dozens. How they doin'? Its too early for a definitive declarations, mind you, but we can check on their progress to date, no?

Mark Teahen
Teahen came into the league with a reputation as a mediocre but improving hitter and a superb fielder. Sometimes I think defensive prowess has a way of taking on a life of its own because its difficult to measure objectively. There's no question he's a mediocre hitter to this point, but Teahen's zone rating is .698, which is next to last among regular third basemen in the AL (A-Rod is last, and he is a bad third baseman by all accounts).

ZR and fielding percentage are imprecise measures at best, but they at least give us some idea of how good a fielder someone is. Maybe Teahen will be a great fielder someday, but I don't think he's very good right now. In fact, he's really not helping the club very much. He's one of the least productive third baseman in the AL and he hasn't shown much improvement, as OU points out. Its a shame that the Royals didn't have a backup plan for the Chris Truby experiment, because Teahen's still not ready for the major leagues. This is what's so infuriating about this team: they abandon their "plans" with reckless abandon.

Slogan: "Where Teahen Bein'?"
Prognosis: Muddy.

John Buck
Every Royals fan had high hopes for Buck coming into this season. He started 2004 (when he arrived) horribly, but he improved rapidly after the All-Star break, showing a powerful and fluid right handed stroke. He still has the same sweet stroke, but unfortunately he hasn't put it to good use thus far in 2005. He started horribly - again - and has improved in May and June only in the absolute sense, meaning he's gone from atrocious to merely terrible offensively. And I admit ignorance when it comes to evaluate how great a catcher is defensively other than not letting the ball go the backstop and "calling a good game", whatever that means. Buck has the reputation as a good defensive catcher, and maybe that's true, but his caught stealing % is near the bottom of the league.

Overall Buck is one of the least productive catchers in baseball and he's actually regressed this season. Buck seems to get a free pass from a lot of people, but the last thing I want to see John Buck become is another Brent Mayne. He's had less than a full season of ABs in his Royal career, so there's no sense in condemning his yet. But I expected to at least come close to his level of production from late last season, but that hasn't happened.

Slogan: "What the F*** is Up with Buck?"
Prognosis: Foggy.

Ruben Gotay
Gotay, quite frankly, has been a revelation. It was team policy to have a terrible April, so Ruben went along with the plan. Since then, however, he's hit very well for a second baseman and has improved every week. He's a switch hitter in theory, but in practice he's a left handed hitter. He has good plate discipline for a rookie and impressive power at the 5. Gotay has also been much better than advertised defensively (his zone rating is near the top of the major leagues) and he's made several outstanding plays of note.

Slogan: "I'm High on Gotay."
Prognosis: Chirpy.

I think the Royals are in for a tough series in Colorado. The Rockies stink, but Coors is such a different type of place to play. My hunch is that the Royals aren't going to be play their best.

Its moving day at the Daily Lancer household! The fam is picking up the pieces and heading on a long journey - 10 blocks. I'm in for an exciting weekend of UNPACKING and CLEANING.

2 Comments:

At 12:17 AM, Blogger Kevin said...

Maybe I'm just being a blind optimist who's looking for a ray of sunshine in between the storm clouds, but I don't think zone rating, range factor, or many other defensive metrics do Mark Teahen justice.

From what I've seen, he's shown incredible range to both his right and left, barehands bunted balls like it's nothing, and generally shows a level of field awareness that I haven't seen from a rookie third baseman since Scott Rolen. I think he's going to win more than one Gold Glove by the time his career's over.

 
At 7:53 PM, Anonymous Brian S. said...

I totally agree with your assessment of Teahen, Kevin.

I have watched him make excellent plays at 3B that remind me of Rolen or Corey Koskie. With Koskie chronically injured, the tendancy to want to give the GG to a good offensive player (Hank Blalock?) is the only thing that will keep him from winning at least one.

 

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