Kansas City Royals: The Black Hole at Shortstop

(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

The Kansas City Royals have several problems, yes, but the shortstop position is one that is the biggest black hole on the entire team.

Royals fans, we need to talk. We have a problem at shortstop. I know what you’re thinking. “Hey, smart guy, the Royals are 3-7. They’ve got problems EVERYWHERE.” and you’re not wrong. Based on the first ten games, this looks to be a long, painful season. However, one can make the case that fans have someone at least approaching league average at each position. With one exception.

Let’s get it out of the way right now. I like Alcides Escobar as a person. He seems like a nice guy. He smiles a lot. His teammates like him. As luck would have it, he’s quite the iron man. Except for 2015, when he missed time after being taken out by Brett Lawrie, he’s played in every game since 2014. That’s like going to the world’s worst buffet. Sure, the food is terrible, but it’s ALL YOU CAN EAT!

Escobar was the winner of this year’s “Most Unwelcome Return,” or, as it’s known, the Yuniesky Betancourt Award. With Gordon now on the disabled list, Esky seems like a lock to once again, be the worst everyday hitter in the American League. Not only that, he appears to be redefining what it means to be a bad hitter. So far, he’s slashing an almost-comical .167/.211/.278 after his first ten games. His OPS is almost .150 BELOW his career mark of .639.

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If you are one of the glass is half-full types, there are two things to hang your hopes on. First, the small sample size. A player generally needs about 40 games before offensive stats begin to stabilize. Secondly, Escobar’s BABIP currently sits at .194, which is 100 points under his career average. So, he will almost certainly get better. Just not very much.

Here’s hoping that Adalberto Mondesi‘s shoulder is healing nicely. Send Ryan Goins home with some lovely parting gifts and a copy of the home game, put Mondesi in at short, and let’s find out what the Kansas City Royals have.

Hopefully, they’ve got something because there is no help on the way. Between Ramon Torres in Omaha and Nick Lopez and Erick Mejia at Northwest Arkansas, the cupboard is bare. Torres and Lopez are virtual clones of Escobar. Mejia is very similar except he will occasionally take a walk.

Don’t worry, though. He’s new to the Royals system this year. I’m sure by the time he gets to KC, his ability to take pitches will have been drummed out of him.

Look, I hate writing Debbie Downer pieces. It’s much more fun to write about pennant races and clinching early enough to set your rotation for the playoffs, but that’s not this year and that’s okay. We all knew it was coming. Just make sure a down year isn’t a wasted year. There’s a huge difference. Ask Houston.

It’s time to find out if these kids can play or not. The Kansas City Royals have to begin the long slog up the mountain again. We have to start somewhere and a 31-year-old shortstop that is historically bad offensively, seems like a great place to start.