It is more than interesting that the Kansas City Royals should follow the Houston Astros in the fielding overview. Numerous sabermetricians and new age bloggers have poked fun at both Ed Wade and Dayton Moore. Fielding is rarely the center of the fun, but as we saw with the Astros, they weren't that good at it either.
The same is true of the Royals. The Royals have had pathetic pitching in particular for most of the last decade. Where there is pathetic pitching, there almost always is pathetic fielding. Moore has quietly stockpiled his farm system through the draft and some of those picks are finally coming of age. It remains to be seen how it will affect overviews like this.
DER: .687 (22nd)
RA: 762 (26th)
FLD%: .985 (12th)
Baseball Reference: -21 runs (25th)
Fangraphs: +6.4 runs (11th)
Fielding Bible: +3 runs (16th)
Baseball Prospectus: -2.7 runs (18th)
Composite Runs: -3.6 runs
Ironically, these numbers represent an improvement for the Royals. A large part of the credit goes to Moore for trading one of the worst defensive shortstops in a package for one of the best. Also, young players are occupying nearly half of the diamond. This will only improve in the coming years as those bountiful drafts start bearing fruit.
The aforementioned Alcides Escobar came from the Brewers as the principle player in the Zack Greinke deal. The Royals sent Yuniesky Betancourt in what amounted to addition by subtraction. They surely missed Greinke, but stabilizing the shortstop position brought them from terrible to almost average defensively. If they can make a similar switch this offseason at another position, they might become above average.
Eric Hosmer was one of the new young guns to come up this season. He is an impressive looking young hitter, but he struggles some with the glove. The Royals also have Billy Butler that can play some first, but he is good where he's at. Hopefully, Hosmer can improve with a full season at the big league level.
Melky Cabrera is a free agent. This is a major decision for Dayton Moore. There is little chance that Cain will outproduce Cabrera offensively, but Cabrera is the same kind of drag in center field that Betancourt was at shortstop. Replace Cabrera with Cain and you might see them make the jump to the top half defensively. Otherwise, they return just about everyone else.
There aren't going to be a lot of changes. A change in center field might have a huge impact though. Otherwise, the Royals are in a good position. Most of their regulars are young enough where improvement is a realistic hope. They won't became the Rays defensively, but mediocre would be a triumph based on past seasons.