The Kansas City Royals are coming off their best season since 1989, and are looking to improve on their 86 wins in 2013. Going forward, we are going to take a closer look at the players that should play significant roles for the Royals in 2014, as they try to make their first post season appearance since winning the World Series in 1985.
If you want to read the other completed profiles, just click here. This link will be updated as we add more profiles over the upcoming weeks.
Up next: starting pitcher Jason Vargas.
The signing of Jason Vargas in November was a very interesting one because it indicated the level of pitcher the Kansas City Royals can afford to sign in free agency. It looks as if about $8 million a year is about the limit for any one pitcher. That is about what Jeremy Guthrie is averaging on his contract, and that is what Vargas will be getting on average.
The amazing thing about the Royals signing Vargas is that his stats are almost identical to Guthrie’s. Vargas is merely the left-handed version of Guthrie. We analyzed this eery similarity earlier. What the Royals get from Guthrie, they can expect much of the same from Vargas
Vargas’ career ERA is 4.30 and his WHIP is 1.319. The Royals are hoping he can at least match his 2012 numbers with Seattle – 3.85 ERA and 1.178 WHIP, plus retain some of his strikeout gains he made least year in Anaheim. His career Strikeouts Per 9 Innings is just a paltry 5.9 but in 2013, Vargas set a career high in this category at 6.5.
Vargas is like Guthrie in that he is a low end number 3 starter, or a solid number 4. They both can pitch like number two starters for stretches at a time.
According to Fangraphs.com, Vargas is a slight fly ball pitcher for his career by allowing 43.6% of the batted balls against him being fly balls, but he has evened out his fly ball and ground ball percentages over the last couple of seasons. He is right around 40% on both fly balls and ground balls in 2012 and 2013.
More ground balls will be a positive with the defense he will have around him now. Like Guthrie, Vargas has a lower than normal career Batting Average on Ball In Play at .283, and that includes a high mark of .313 last year. Guthrie’s is .281. A good defense will only help this number.
If the Royals can get 200 innings out of Vargas, with an ERA around 4.00 and a 1.200 WHIP, they will get their money’s worth. They need their starters to go 6 innings more often than not, and Vargas seems capable of eating some innings.
If the Royals young arms like Danny Duffy, Yordano Ventura, and Kyle Zimmer can develop quickly over the next 12 months, Vargas could be a terrific back end of the rotation veteran for the Royals in the future. Kansas City needs more from him in 2014, and it is up to him to deliver.
It will be interesting to see if Dayton Moore’s bargain shopping will pay off in this case.