Royals Outfield: Depth Chart Discussion

Starter Alex Gordon Lorenzo Cain Jeff Francoeur
Backups Lorenzo Cain Jarrod Dyson Lorenzo Cain
David Lough David Lough David Lough

Left FieldAlex Gordon will be the everyday left fielder. He started 151 in LF in 2011 and 161 in 2012. Nothing will change in 2013. For the days he gets rest, expect Cain to move over to LF and Dyson to man CF.

Center Field – A little more possible drama happening in center field than in right field. Lorenzo Cain is slated to be the starting center fielder. If healthy, he will get the majority of the starts.

The problem is that he has not been healthy much over the past two seasons. If/when he gets hurt,speedster Jarrod Dyson will get the starts at center field. Dyson will not have the same power as Cain, but could will be a huge source of stolen bases.

One center field issue is the replacements for the corner positions will come from center field. If Gordon or Francoeur go down, Cain will be their likely replacement. Dyson will then get starts in CF. Basically, Dyson will be the big playing time gainer if any of the other 3 outfielders go down with injury.

Right Field – Before the beginning of the off season, this position battle looked to be pretty heated with the vet Jeff Francoeur vs. the highly touted rookie, Wil Myers. The Royals solved the problem by trading Myers to Tampa Bay. Frenchy now gets one more shot to see if he can bring back the magic of 2011. Even if he struggles like he did in 2012, the Royals will probably be forced to put him out in the field everyday and hope he turns it around.

His primary backup will be Cain. Like with LF, Cain will move to RF and Dyson will take over in center.

Other backups

The Royals brought in three veterans to help with the outfield depth, Willy Taveras, Xavier Nady and Endy Chavez. I really don’t see any of them making the team. For one of the trio to have a chance to get a call later in the season, they would need to accept assignment to AAA. I just don’t see them accepting assignment.

The most likely Royals outfield replacement option is David Lough. Lough is currently trying to get the team’s attention by hitting .520/.538/.720 so far in spring training. He can play decent enough defense in the corners and if needed, he could be forced into duty in center field.

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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

6 Responses to “Royals Outfield: Depth Chart Discussion”

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  1. d_i says:

    I’ve been thinking the A’s (Chris Young – replace Frenchy or G Green – depth all over at 2b or OF) or the DBacks (G. Parra – platoon with Frenchy and share CF) would make good trade partners with the Royals and improve their chances if they’re serious about contending. I’d hope Frenchy would have a shorter leash this year, but they simply can’t trot him out there for 130 games. I’m afraid they’re going to give him 50 before they pull the plug and the damage might be done by then given their margin for error.

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  2. Bob says:

    Cain hasn’t been healthy for the majority of two seasons? You’re correct about 2012…but 2011 he spent the majority of the year in AAA – where he played 128 games (and another 6 in the big leagues) for 134 total in 2011…I’d say that’s fairly healthy.

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  3. Ruki Motomiya says:

    This article seems a bit short compared to the other ones, not much talk about what Gordon/Cain can do for you.

    One possibility which should be brought up is a Dyson/Franceour platoon. It was tried near the end of last year and only stopped due to Cain/Dyson injuries. Dyson is league average or worse against righties or lefties, but he hits better than Franceour vs. righties and has speed and decent defense, while Franceour has historically hit lefties well (career 110 wRC+ vs. lefties). It could effect numbers a fair deal (Stream Dyson for steals if platooned, maybe?).

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  4. You were laughing when you wrote: “The Royals solved the problem by trading Myers to Tampa Bay.” Right? RIGHT?

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  5. tecjug says:

    Jeff, any chance the Royals run Hosmer out to RF during interleague play? He played a couple of games there last season, and it wasn’t pretty, but if he’s hitting again then the offensive production gained by keeping him and Butler in the lineup might be worth it.

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  6. Jay29 says:

    “Alex Gordon will be the everyday left fielder. He started 151 in LF in 2011 and 161 in 2012. Nothing will change in 2013. For the days he gets rest, expect Cain to move over to LF and Dyson to man CF.”

    Why would Gordon get rest days if he has shown he can play every day? I guess I would just rephrase that sentence as starting with “if for some reason Gordon goes down…”

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