All-Star watch: Ranking the RoyalsBy TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
Five Royals are having All-Star worthy campaigns. There could be some hemming or hawing that Aaron Crow or perhaps Jose Mijares belong on the list too, but it has to be cut off somewhere. Besides, the third-best reliever on a team in a given year has no chance to make an All-Star roster. As much as I would like to make a case for Mitch Maier as a pitcher, this seems like a more realistic look at who might represent the Royals when the spotlight hits Kansas City on July 10.
1. DH Billy Butler
Key stats: .289/.352/.521, 11 2B, 11 HR, 35 RBI
Competition: David Ortiz, Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Dunn, Michael Young
The last three seasons, Butler excuse me, Big Bill (though personally Ive always preferred to call him Billy Bats) has batted .303/.370/.474 and averaged 18 home runs, 47 doubles, 76 runs scored and 89 RBIs. Still, as Sam Mellinger pointed out in a recent column (http://tinyurl.com/7vp7oea), Butler doesnt seem to get the credit he deserves.
Thats not just in Kansas City, though. Hes not often mentioned among the best young hitters in the game, but theres no question the kid hes still only 26 can absolutely rake. Perhaps this is the season Butler finally gets to showcase his immense talent in the Midsummer Classic. It should be.
2. RHP Jonathan Broxton
Key stats: 0-1, 1.83 ERA, 11/13 SV
Competition: Jim Johnson, Fernando Rodney, Chris Perez, Joe Nathan
Forget about the back-to-back hit batters against Oakland in the finale of a season-opening road trip. Now, I realize that can be hard for some fans, but Broxton has been solid most of the season. Hes been an adventure at times, with Wednesday afternoon in Cleveland being a prime example, but its not quite The Heath Bell Experience.
3. LHP Tim Collins
Key stats: 2-0, 2.42 ERA, 38/7 K/BB, 0.96 WHIP
Competition: Can anyone really compete with Collins right now
Collins hasnt allowed a run in 22 of 24 appearances this season, so his ERA is skewed by a four-run outing April 14 against Cleveland during that disastrous opening homestand and a three-run outing May 7 against Boston. Bottom line is that Collins has been fantastic and provides a reliable left-hander with strikeout stuff to a bullpen that could determine which league secures home-field advantage for the World Series. Hed be a great option for Ron Washington if hes playing for strategy.
If the Royals get two players, it will be because Washington zeroes in on Collins as a specialist with value from the host team.
4. SS Alcides Escobar
Key stats: .303/.344/.404, 13 2B, 21 R, 8 SB
Competition: Derek Jeter, Mike Aviles, J.J. Hardy, Elvis Andrus, Asdrubal Cabrera
Its not that Escobars season is deserving of so little All-Star consideration as much as the fact that Jeter is pretty much a lock to start the game, while Aviles and Hardy are having terrific seasons for teams having better seasons in higher-profile markets. Dont discount the notion Washington could reward Andrus with a spot on the team either, while Cabrera an all-star last year is playing well again for the division leader.
5. 3B Mike Moustakas
Key stats: .272/.335/.485, 12 2B, 8 HR, 24 RBI, 23 R
Competition: Mark Trumbo, Miguel Cabrera, Alex Rodriguez, Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre
Moose has tapered off a bit in the last 10 days, which has caused his All-Star stock to drop. Of course, there is still time for that to change. But the real problem is the depth at third base in the American League. Trumbo, a second-year player for the Angels who moved to accommodate Albert Pujols arrival, is scorching hot for a team that is equally red hot. Meanwhile, Cabrera and A-Rod are grandfathered into the game for the most part.
Then again, they might opt to skip the festivities this season, but with Longoria and another Rangers player in the mix it might be tough for Moustakas to make the field. Still, Im kind of curious what a Moose chant Moose call, can we agree on Moose call? would sound like during an All-Star game.