Durham or Kansas City?

I like tormenting Matt Klaasen, and as such, I’m going to expand on a question I asked him earlier: is the Durham Bulls’ lineup better than the Kansas City Royals’ lineup?

If the season started tomorrow, Kansas City would have something that resembles this:

C Jason Kendall
1B Billy Butler
2B Chris Getz
3B Alex Gordon
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
LF David DeJesus
CF Scott Podsednik
RF Rick Ankiel
DH Josh Fields

Meanwhile, depending on what the Rays do over the next two months, the Durham lineup could look like this:

C John Jaso
1B Dan Johnson
2B Elliot Johnson
3B Chris Nowak
SS Reid Brignac
LF Fernando Perez
CF Desmond Jennings
RF Justin Ruggiano
DH Ryan Shealy

There’s an outside chance that Matt Joyce and/or Sean Rodriguez also wind up here, or some other minor league free agent types. Let’s go position by position.

C: Kendall has the edge defensively and in grit, but Jaso is the better offensive player no matter the level.

1B: Butler.

2B: CHONE thinks Getz is about 20 wOBA points better in 2010. Both are probably best suited for a bench spot in the Majors.

3B: Gordon.

SS: A simple “Brignac” would suffice, I’ll expand anyways. Brignac is left-handed, hits righties well, and fields the ball. He may not be the slayer of foreign worlds like many hoped a few years ago, but he’s better than Betancourt.

LF: DeJesus.

CF: Ignoring contractual status, I think you have to go with Jennings. He may be the best prospect in the American League East and he’d debut on Opening Day in some other organizations. Here he’s stuck behind Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton.

RF: Ankiel, although Ruggiano did work with the same swing mechanic who made Ben Zobrist into BZA.

DH: Amusingly, Shealy was a member of the Royals organization until just recently, yet he appears to be a better player than their DH; unless their DH is Butler, then he’s obviously not.

It appears the Royals get the nod, for now, but if Joyce and/or Rodriguez show up, you would have a hard time convincing me the Royals lineup was better on a spot-by-spot basis.

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69 Responses to “Durham or Kansas City?”

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  1. JoeyO says:

    just awesome

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  2. Jimbo says:

    Is it a safe assumption you think Durham is the best AAA team in the minors?

    Hate to think they barely beat an ‘average’ triple-A team.

    Poor, poor Mr. Greinke.

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    • Bryz says:

      No, I think it’s because he’s a Rays fan, thus he’s most familiar with his own team’s minor league system. I’m sure other readers could come up with their own AAA teams that could rival the Royals’ starting lineup.

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      • Jacob Jackson says:

        I think the A’s AAA team has the opportunity to be historically good this season. The Sacramento Rivercats have been very good for years, but I next year’s bunch might be the best they’ve had.

        Signing Sheets pushed Cahill back to AAA, and the Hairston/Cunningham trade brought back Kouzmanoff and Sogurd, who plays 2b and shores up the only weakness Sac was going to have.

        The A’s might be the only minor league team that fields a prospect/future major leaguer at every position.

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      • Jimbo says:

        Jacob. Thanks for the tip, just moved to Sacramento…lucky me!

        Big change from Seattle, but that Mariner franchise is going nowhere. ;-)

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  3. Alan says:

    Well, now, hold on a sec: You’re comparing the lineups position-by-position, but what about cumulative? For example, I see 5-6 guys in Durham’s lineup who might post average or better OBPs in the big leagues. I count three, maybe four in K.C.’s.

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  4. Scott says:

    Isn’t Callaspo starting at 2B for the Royals?

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    • Josh says:

      I think I recall reading somewhere about Butler at 1B, Getz at 2B, and Callaspo at DH.

      Callaspo at DH is just part of The Process, I assume.

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      • David says:

        Callaspo’s defense sucks. Of course, so does Yuniesky Betancourt’s, but he’s penciled in as the starter in the most difficult infield position…

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      • Joe R says:

        The logic of “The Process”

        Good hitting 2B whose defense sucks, but would still be an above-average offensive corner OF? Make him disappear on the bench.

        Bad hitting, bad fielding SS who’s coming off one of the worst seasons in the decade for any player? A-okay!

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    • Chris says:

      I think Dayton was trying to trade him this offseason, so maybe he moves before opening day.

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  5. Chris says:

    The Royals should trade for Rays prospects, but of course Dayton Moore thinks his Omaha squad is better than Durham. Brignac would be a nice get, but Dayton can’t make that deal happen either.

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  6. LeeTro says:

    Using CHONE projections, the stated KC lineup is at -25 runs/150 games and the Durham team is at -44. However, if you substitute Joyce or Rodriguez in, they would each provide a +20 swing. So if one of them are in Durham, the 2 offenses will basically be equal.

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    • JoeyO says:

      CHONE projections (using Rodriguez) for the two lineups spread over 600 PA each player also have the Bulls ahead in Walks (501 to 424), Triples (33 to 30), Home Runs (126 to 110) and Stolen Bases (113 to 87) while being less then 10 behind in Doubles (254 to 261).

      The absolute only thing CHONE projections for KC really have on Durham is singles; where they are projected to lead 916 to 800.

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  7. Seideberg says:

    Are they still teaching the players in Durham how to breathe through their eyelids like the lizards of the Galapagos Islands?

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    • Bob says:

      Wow, anyone who rated this comment down has obviously not seen the movie. Stop taking this crap so seriously and add Bull Durham to your Netflix queue.

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  8. Fields will be opening the season in Omaha unless Guillen gets dealt or released outright. As it stands now, Callaspo figures to split time between 2B, 3B, and DH but wherever he ends up, Trey and Dayton are on record that he will be in the lineup every day. For the purposes of the above comparison, Callaspo should be listed as the Royals DH and he absolutely smokes Shealy (who incidentally can’t seem to get out of bed without getting hurt).

    Also Dayton in all his “wisdom” has promised Ankiel the CF job and they are inexplicably moving DeJesus to RF. Pods will be in LF.

    I’d take the potential of Jennings and Brignac over a lot of guys on a lot of ML teams, so their superiority isn’t confined to just the Royals.

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    • JoeyO says:

      “Fields will be opening the season in Omaha”

      Fields should be out of options for 2010, unless I am mistaken.

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      • I do believe Fields is out of options but I don’t know that anyone is going to claim him off waivers and commit a roster spot to him if the Royals try to send him down toward the end of spring training.

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  9. Mark S says:

    Based off of WAR which team would create more ML wins?

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    • UZR IS A JOKE says:

      83.3 wins according to the CHONE predictions for the Royals is the rough estimate I got. That is assuming that signing Ankiel meant Guillen is gone, and you decrease PAs evenly across all their batters to last years number, and assuming they pitch at the same 19.9 level. It also probably doesn’t take into account fielding positions as I don’t think any of the OFers are being predicted to be CFers.

      It doesn’t seem like that can be right. If anyone else wanted to take a stab at it and report, that would be great.

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    • JoeyO says:

      For the rosters above (using Rodriguez) over a full season for each player, I come up with +12 WAR Royals and +9.9 WAR Bulls off the CHONE projections

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  10. Steve says:

    RJ, by far you are an idiot. I have kept up with you on this site for a year or so and I am very familiar with your “work” or lack there of on DRaysbay.com. You are self absorbed and extremely dry. Could you please stop regurgitating other sabermetrics geeks information and actually go with an original thought. This article on it’s on is insulting to Royals fan. I am sickened by the fact that we both root for the Rays. Or are you just using the Rays website as a platform to get yourself someplace else? I hope you move on soon so that myself, and many like me never have to be subject to your dry and pathetic words. I hope that you can come up with an original reply, but you will probably bow and and let some other “yahoo” fight your fight.

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  11. Will says:

    the royal lineup should definitely include Guillen’s huge negative #s until Moore/Hillman prove otherwise

    let’s just trust the process

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  12. A big fan of R.J. says:

    Isn’t insulting ridicule fun? Boy, it sure is. Of course the numbers (remember numbers?) show that the Royals lineup should be much, much better than the Bulls, but hey let’s not let that get in the way of some fun, snarky insults. Great work, R.J.

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    • JoeyO says:

      “Of course the numbers (remember numbers?) show that the Royals lineup should be much, much better than the Bulls,”

      That’s just the thing, they dont. The lineups above (replacing Johnson with Rodriguez) provide the following projection lines

      .268/.333/.400/.733, 132 ISO and .325 wOBA – Royals
      .250/.327/.394/.721, 144 ISO and .320 wOBA – Bulls

      The difference is about 20 runs over a season. Last I checked, 20 runs between two 9 player rosters over a season doesnt constitute “much, much better” in any way.

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      • A big fan of R.J. says:

        So you’re not going by the lineups R.J. used above? So now we play the “if you take out this guy and replace him with that guy” game. If you get to replace Johnson with Rodriguez, can we also replace Getz with Callaspo?

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      • JoeyO says:

        I am using the lineups he provided above. Read the very next sentence stating Joyce or Rodriguez could end up in the lineup (which Rodriguez likely will, hence his inclusion.)

        But I’d like to ask you, so now we play question every minor thing to make sure you can complain? Is your world that perfect that you have to try to backhandedly criticize a topic mainly created as a casual jab towards a college? Is your world so bland that you can not find (or allow others to enjoy) any humor in two rosters producing such similar production based off the projections? Is your world so slow you must take time to voice disinterest in everything you dont approve of? Or are you just complaining because others did so before you?

        Anyway, what the world needs now is a new kind of tension, right?

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  13. I think you might be overestimating the Royals a lil ;-) …either way, this sure would make a fascinating best of 7 series.

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  14. CircleChange11 says:

    So basically, other than SS, where YB had about as bad of a 2009 as a player could have and possibly CF where the Rays have the one of the best AL prospects (your words), the Royals are better.

    You end it with “it appears the Royals get the nod”, when the obvious conclusion is “The Royals have a much better lineup than the Rays” (at least going position by position, which is probably not the best way to view an overall lineup).

    Couldn’t the same thing be done with basically the bottom 5 teams in MLB?

    Personally, I’d be more interested in an article about Jim Edmonds chances of making the 25-man roster and what type of impact he might be able to have in an NLC where the Brew Crew has seemingly made some decent moves toward improvement.

    At some point, doesn’t picking on the small kid lose it’s appeal?

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Better lineup than the BULLS, not the Rays. Youknowhatimeant.

      It’s an egg, hold it like an egg.

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      • Sandy Kazmir says:

        Here’s my article about Edmonds chances:


        x=Probability of Jim Edmonds sticking on a ML roster.

        I would have more sympathy if the guy wasn't a hot dog in CF, giving true range monsters like B.J. Upton a bad name, because he's not diving all over the place as if his uniform had a small grease fire in it.

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      • Al Dimond says:

        @Sandy Kazmir

        Range for probabilities is [0,1].

        Regardless of the “hot dog” reputation, Edmonds played a good CF for many years. The guy hit a little, too. He appears to have dropped off defensively and probably shouldn’t be playing CF for anyone at this point, but let’s not forget that he had a great career.

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      • Sandy Kazmir says:

        @ Al

        Thanks for catching that, I should have said 0<x<.08 or thrown the word percentage in there. Sure he had a good career, borderline great considering his position, but I've always felt that he was a bit over-rated due to "highlight reel grabs" and a passionate fanbase. He could have played for the Rays at anytime in his career and I probably would have held him up as "one of the great ones." He didn't and I never got to see enough of him, but you're right on point that TODAY is not 2003. I hope he can find a way to continue to work in the game as it is obviously his passion.

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  15. Boog-Alou says:

    Did you even try to seriously compare these two lineups?

    “DH: Amusingly, Shealy was a member of the Royals organization until just recently, yet he appears to be a better player than their DH, unless their DH is Butler, then he’s obviously not.”

    Shealy appears to be better than Fields? Where does that appearance come from?

    Shealy 240/324/396
    Fields 252/335/412

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  16. azruavatar says:

    My first thought when (mis)reading this headline was that Ray Durham had signed with the Royals. My second was that Ray Durham signing with the Royals would not have been their worst signing of the offseason.

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  17. geo says:

    Two more corrections:
    1. Guillen will be the opening day DH (unless Moore really does decide to suck it up and just release him, in which case the DH will be Callaspo).
    2. Avile will be the opening day shortstop. Betancourt will be on the bench.

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  18. Adam says:

    I realize this is just another fun little poke at the Royals, but if we’re going to be fair about the comparison, you should probably include the Royals’ second best offensive player from a year ago in their lineup.

    Unless he gets dealt, I’m guessing Callaspo will either play 2B or DH on most nights.

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  19. Mike says:

    This is stupid, and not even worth a read. Do the Durham Bulls have a Cy Young Award winner on their staff? No. Do the Durham Bulls have one of the top closers in baseball? No. Do the Durham Bulls have one of the only 23 year olds in the last century to hit 50 or more doubles and 20 or more home runs in the same season? No.

    You might think you’re being funny, but there are several teams out there who are worse than the Royals. I’ll stop reading FanGraphs Baseball just because of this idiotic attempt at humor.

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    • Sandy Kazmir says:

      Do the Durham Bulls waste one of their few great tradeable assets by allowing him to close for a dreadful team that has no shot at the playoffs?

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    • Ivdown says:

      The problem is those are the only good players on that team, really, maybe with the exception of Callaspo (offensively) and Dejesus.

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  20. Jack says:

    Yeah, I’m not a Royals fan, but I agree with some people.

    For this to be an article on FanGraphs is a let down. I expect this out of a generic team blog on SBNation, but when I come here, I like to see a more methodical approach to one’s case.

    I’m glad you “like tormenting Matt Klaasen”

    What are you? 12?

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  21. This article is flat out insulting. Callaspo isn’t even included in here and you don’t take the starting rotation in to consideration.

    Yes the Royals will more than likely be a weak offensive team, but with the likes of Billy Butler, Alberto Callaspo and a healthy Alex Gordon, it could very well be a league average offense.

    I hold Fangraphs to a higher standard than this. Instead of sounding like an intelligent sabermetrician, you came off sounding like Skip Bayless.

    Never reading any of your articles again. You suck.

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  22. marcello says:

    Wow, a lot of people can’t take a joke. None of you will be missed.

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  23. Bannister19 says:

    Most of those 9, aside from especially Jennings, wouldn’t do nearly as good as the Royals.

    Also, for lets say, people like Getz, it doesn’t take into account his speed (I’m sure you know he had the highest SB% for anyone in the MLB with atleast 25 SB), his defense (You’re looking at wOBA aren’t you), and the fact that he was just a rookie. His comparisons are that of Brian Roberts, a little more than what Durham can produce.

    So, the only thing that Durham can be better in is:
    Jason Kendall offensively (but who isn’t? He wasn’t acquired for his bat, you know.)

    Yunieski Betancourt (This is the real killer, only because everyone is better than Betancourt. That’s why we’re all hoping Aviles will be back soon, and hopefully to his healthy production)

    And CF, only because of Desmond Jennings, who is one of the best prospects in the MLB. But other than Jennings, the Durham lineup is pretty much cr-ap. I’ll take Kendalls defense and his on-base ability over Olivos and Jason. I’ll take Getz upside, as well as his speed and defense over Callapso as well as Johnson.

    Finally, as for the DH spot. Butler obviously won’t be DHing this year (though if Hosmer can come up any time soon, there you go!)
    If Josh Fields can produce near his rookie year numbers, I’ll take him over Shealy, any day. If he doesn’t, we also have Gullien and Kila Ka’aihue around.

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    • jpdtrmpt72 says:

      “I’ll take Kendalls defense and his on-base ability over Olivos and Jason.”

      did you really just say kendall’s on base ability? for real?

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