Norichika Aoki Provides Unorthodox Improvement for Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals made significant moves to improve themselves for the 2014 season. After the acquisitions of right fielder Norichika Aoki and second baseman Omar Infante, KC will have a brand new look to their lineup next year. Although they’ve said goodbye to a few well-liked and well-respected players this offseason, the Royals look to be better than ever – at least on offense. So, how does the 2014 lineup match up against last year’s lineup? I’ve already talked about how Infante improves this offense significantly, but today we’ll take a look at how Aoki will affect the lineup moving forward.
Assuming you’re plugging in Aoki in right, Infante at second base and Lorenzo Cain in center field, things are looking up for the Royals offensively. However, this much-needed improvement will come in a very different form than the straight-up addition of a huge power bat. Last year, KC got 29 doubles, 71 RBI and 12 home runs from the right field slot in the lineup. Aoki’s 162 game average would actually give the team only one more double, two less homers and 25 less RBI than the production KC saw last from right field last year. However, his .287 batting average and .355 on-base percentage would be a .029 and .051 point improvement, respectively.
The Royals say Aoki will probably bat lead-off to start the season – a role in which he’s played 232 of his 306 MLB games. The combined slash line for Royals in the lead-off position was .246/.309/.381 last year. That batting average is the fifth-worst and the OBP is the sixth-worst of all teams at that spot in the lineup. Last season, only three teams recorded a higher combined from the lead-off spot than Aoki’s 162 game average, and only two teams recorded a higher batting average. So, while the Royals have made a surefire upgrade with Aoki, the production will come in less orthodox ways than many fans in KC would probably have hoped.