On July 1st, I posted a blog with a midseason report card for the pitchers and on the 4th I posted a report card for the players, so now comes the time for the final report card.
First off I'll announce my personal choice for Royals pitcher of the year. With all due respect to the good seasons that Zack Greinke and Gil Meche put in, I've got to give this award to Joakim Soria. Also with all due respect to Dan Quisenberry and Jeff Montgomery, the Mexicutioner just completed the most dominating season of any closer in Royals history. In my humble opinion, Meche or Greinke would have had to have won 18-20 games to have attempted to wrestle this award away from Soria.
Now, on to the grades...
Gil Meche - B+ Shortly after the All-Star break, I went on record on the Royals board saying I expected Meche to be the most improved Royal in the second half of the season. My reasoning was Hillman's decision to start Zach Greinke in the first start after the break. I felt that may put enough of a chip on Gil's shoulder, that he'ld come out of the gate in the second half throwing bullets. Whether that was the case or not, Gil did come out throwing bullets. I gave him a mid-season grade of C+ so it took a A performance to raise him to a B+. Gil went 14-11, 3.98 ERA and he led the staff in win, starts (34), strike-outs (183, tied), innings pitched (210.1) and batting average against (.255).
Zack Greinke - A- Zack pitched like a first round draft pick this season from his first start all the way to his last. I gave him an A- at mid-season and just as my grading indicates, he was consistently good all season. Zack finished the season 13-10, with a team best 3.47 ERA, tied Meche for team high in strikeouts with 183 while issuing only 58 walks, had the best WHIP of the starters and gobbled up 202.1 innings in his 32 starts. Everyone give Dayton and Trey a high-five for moving Greinke to the rotation.
Brian Bannister - D What started out as a bright looking start to the season became a free fall to mediocrity. I gave him a C at midseason as the decline had just started and it just got worse until he finally put together a couple of decent starts in September. To his credit, he stayed healthy and tried to pitch through his woes, but his pitching to contact turned into pitching to the fat part of the bat. Banny went 9-16, 5.76 ERA, 113/58 K/BB ratio, in 182.2 innings with a woeful .294 batting average against. Lets hope the 2007 version of Bannister comes back to us next season.
Kyle Davies - C+ I may catch a little flack for giving him too low of a grade since I gave him a B- at the mid-way point, but Davies really stunk in July and August. Then he finished the season with an incredible September. This is the guy who may have a breakout year in 2009. Davies has always been outstanding in the minors and struggled in the majors, but some people think that Davies may have "gotten it" now. If has indeed "gotten it", he could be the key in making the Royals a contender. Kyle was 9-7, 4.06 ERA, 71/43 K/BB ratio and threw 113 innings in 21 starts. His batting average against was .276.]
Luke Hochevar - D+ I gave Luke a C+ at midseason, but line Bannister, Hochevar had an awful second half. I don't know if he was pitching injured or just ineffectively. Unfortunately, the Royals didn't have the rotational depth when Tomko was ineffective early on and Bale got injured and Hochevar was rushed to the majors to take a spot in the rotation. Its my opinion that if the Royals are able to acquire an established starter before spring training, that Hochevar should start next season in Omaha as he hasn't proved to be ready for the majors yet. Luke was 6-12, with a 5.51 ERA in 22 starts. His K/BB ratio was 72/49 with a .280 batting average against in 129 innings.
Brandon Duckworth - C Duckworth did what we expected him to do, nothing more, nothing less. He pitched around league average and was a servicable stop gap/no 5 starter. In his 7 starts he went 3-3 with a 4.50 ERA with a less than impressive 20/19 K/BB ratio in 38 innings of work. The league batted .266 against Duckworth.
Ron Mahay - B- Mahay was Mr. Reliable before the all-star break and I gave him an A- for his first 3 months of the season. He struggled some in the second half and went through a stint on the DL, but overall, we was a very good acquisition by Dayton Moore. For much of the season he was the second most important pitcher in the pen working as long reliever, lefty specialist and set-up man. Mahay had a perfect 5-0 record with a 3.48 ERA, 49/29 K/BB ratio and gave us 64.2 innings of work in 57 appearances. The league hit .252 against him.
Leo Nunez - B Nunez put in a solid year in the bullpen. Unfortunately he lost time twice on the DL, but was usually reliable when available. He had a 4-1 record, 2.98 ERA, 26/15 K/BB ratio in 45 appearances covering 48.1 innings. He had a nice .249 batting average against.
Ramon Ramirez - A- I gave him a B+ at mid-season and am torn between that grade and the one I gave him now. I went to the A- because he did his job very well this season and above my expectation. He pitched in many pressure packed 8th innings this season and usually prevailed. He did his part in making Soria the success that he was. In my humble opinion, there aren't many set-up men who were as effective as RamRam this season. Ramirez led the team with 71 appearances, had a 3-2 record and a 2.64 ERA. He had a glossy 70-31 K/BB ratio over 71.2 innings. The league hit a paultry .222 against him this season.
Joakim Soria - A He's our man and our deserving all-star this season. He got an A from his first appearance to his last. He was 2nd in the AL in both saves and save pct and in the top 3 among closers in ERA and WHIP. In my opinion the only AL closer that could claim to be more effective than Soria this season was Mariano Rivera. The Mexicutioner converted 42 of his 45 save opportunities, went 2-3 with a microscopic 1.60 ERA. The league batted only .169 against him. His K/BB ratio was 66/19 in 67.1 innings over 63 appearances.
Robinson Tejada - C+ A nice mid-season acquisition by Dayton Moore. He saved us a transaction by doing a nice job in a spot start. He averaged a strikeout for every inning pitched, so he has some good stuff. I wouldn't mind seeing him back in our bullpen next season. He went 2-2 with a 3.97 ERA, with a 45/29 K/BB ratio in 45.1 innings. League only batted .171 against him. If this kid gets his stuff under control, he could become an important component.
Yasuhiko Yubuta - D Yubuta got off to a real rocky start early in the season and I gave him a D- at mid-season. He spent most of the second half of the season in Omaha but he pitched reasonalby well when he returned in September. He got his ERA down to a 4.78 so I upped his grade some. He made 31 appearances, pitched 37.2 innings, many in mop-up duty. He had a 1-3 record and had a 25/17 K/BB ratio.
Joel Peralta - D- The guy does have amazing stuff. He also has an amazing ability of targeting the sweet spot on the bat. He's got a nice K/BB ratio of 38/14 iver 52.2 innings but the league hit .275 against him with too many of those hits finding the cheap seats. He was 1-2 with a 5.98 ERA over 40 appearances.
Jimmy Gobble - F What can I say without sounding too harsh on Jimmy? He didn't suck so much in September. Gobble was a real life horror show this season. He topped it off with a 1 inning performance in which he allowed 10 earned runs. Somehow he got in enough effective innings in September to get his ERA down to 8.81. Maybe Gobble had an injury we didn't know about that he was trying to pitch through. It was just a lost season for him. I really like Jimmy and I hope the Royals allow him to attend spring training and give him a chance to earn his way back to the bullpen.
John Bale - C- Here's a hard one to grade. His 4.39 ERA wasn't bad. His .293 average against is lousy. He was ineffective as a starter to begin the season, but he did well in the bullpen in September. His 0-3 record was all as a starter. Lets not try that experiment again. I did approve of him becoming a starter this year, but hey, I was wrong too.
Overall staff and Pitching Coach Bob McClure - C- This is the grade you get coming in tied for 9th in a 14 team league. Bob McClure's personal grade probably deserves to be better. The only pitchers on the Royals staff that you can really call veterans are Gil Meche and Ron Mahay and they had admirable seasons. Brian Bannister and Jimmy Gobble definitely regressed. Zack Greinke and Jaokim Soria thrived. So there were mixed results and McClure had his hands full of young pitchers this season. In my opinion he's earned the right to remain as the Royals pitching coach. I'll leave that decision to the capable hands of Trey Hillman and Dayton Moore.
Ok, feel free to render your own grades. Lets hear some input. I think the Royals made a nice stride in the right direction in 2008. He're hoping that we'll be the Tampa Bay Rays of 2009!
GO ROYALS 2009!!!!!