I don’t know what to think anymore. Bubba Starling is now batting .417 this spring with a 1.267 OPS. He has been worlds better at the plate than any other option the Royals have in RF (assuming Soler is the Opening Day DH) and we all know about his track record defensively. The longer Spring Training goes on, and the longer Bubba has success at the plate, the longer I think there’s a chance he could actually break camp with the big league club.
The biggest reason he has a chance is that Brian Goodwin has been freaking awful. Goodwin is batting .048 and doesn’t offer a ton in the way of defense. Goodwin is certainly serviceable, but he actually rates poorly in all three outfield spots throughout his career and would never be confused as “good” defensively. Combine that with a weak bat and you get, well, nothing.
Goodwin is a 28-year old who has been worth 1 fWAR over 502 PA in his career. The hope of him being some kind of asset is probably over. In fairness, Bubba Starling is 27 years old and has never made his big league debut, but you’d be silly to not acknowledge the significantly higher ceiling that Bubba presents for the Royals in RF. If Bubba was even able to post an 80 wRC+, he’d be worth something like 2 fWAR. Brian Goodwin, the owner of a career 99 wRC+, has been worth 1 fWAR in his career.
I said earlier this spring that Bubba would have to go bonkers in order to break camp with the big league club. The Royals would likely have to DFA Brian Goodwin in order to make room for Bubba in Kansas City and you know they probably don’t wanna do that. However, Bubba has continued to be scorching hot and Brian Goodwin has not.
If Dayton Moore and company were EVER going to just say, “Screw it,” for lack of a better phrase, and let Bubba Starling come up and make his MLB debut alongside Kyle Zimmer, it would be 2019. All hope of competing officially went down the drain with Salvy’s injury and this year should officially be about the young guys. I was skeptical early on, but I’m in full blown “screw it” mode now. If the theme of your team is going to be speed and defense, there’s no better candidate to man RF than Bubba Starling. Let Bubba play, it’s Bubba Time.
Photo Credits: Minda Haas Kuhlmann