You’re probably thinking Royals Farm only brought me on to write about Bubba Starling, but I promise I’ll write about something else (eventually).
Now as some of you may know, I am active on the Twitter. I think (for the most part) it’s a phenomenal website. I enjoy everything from memes to well thought out takes. But recently, it has come to my attention that people on that website really want Bubba Starling to wear a Kansas City Royals uniform soon. Here are some examples:
No offense to Dave, I’m not sure I would ask Rex Hudler if Bubba Starling is coming up soon. I don’t think it’s bad, he’s just not first on my list.
Now, I agree that these are all valid questions. I, also, find myself asking these questions. Being a Royals fan is frustrating. Take for example why it took them so long to DFA Chris Owings. It seems like the organization always moves slow, but when it comes to Bubba Starling, I think they are doing it right.
When a player is up for promotion, there are three “boxes” in my mind that need to be checked before they come up. Number one, is the player healthy? Number two, is the player performing well? And number three, is there a need?
Allow me to break this down.
1. Is the player healthy?
It’s no secret that Bubba Starling has not had a perfect bill of health. Many (including myself) thought he wouldn’t be in this position because of how injury prone he was. Since he was drafted in 2011, Starling has spent five stints on the (at the time disabled) injured list. In 2017, Starling suffered an oblique injury which put him on the 60-day IR. Last year, Bubba spent a 10-day and 7-day span on the IR but so far this year, the 26-year-old outfielder has been able to stay healthy. Which, leads to my next point.
2. Is the player performing well?
With Starling being able to stay healthy this year, he is having a career year. Sam Dykstra of MiLB.com pointed out some of Bubba’s numbers.
Let’s dive into that more, shall we? Starling has a .344/.384/.478 through June 12th, which is the highest through 175 plate appearances in his career. Bubba’s .863 OPS is also the highest of his career while his BABIP is up to .408 and has a .371 wOBA. Like Dykstra said above, Starling has 8 outfield assists and also hasn’t been credited for an error so far this season.
This could be the most frustrating point. He is performing well and he’s not in the big leagues, but the last point is the big one.
3. Is there a need?
In short, no. Currently, in the outfield, you have Alex Gordon, Billy Hamilton, and Whit Merrifield. On the bench, you have Terrance Gore, who is listed as an outfielder but should really be listed as “designated pinch runner.” Then you have Jorge Soler, who has a negative defensive WAR.
You aren’t going to move Whit to second to make a spot because Nicky Lopez is adjusting to big league pitching and he’s the future of the team. Releasing Terrance Gore would be ideal because he’s really taking up a big league roster spot but if Bubba Starling is going to be called up, they are going to make sure he has a spot to play every day.
DFAing Gore and bringing up Starling may seem like a good solution but without Hamilton leaving, Bubba can’t get everyday reps and if he’s as good as people expect he’s going to need to play every day.
I get the frustration, I really do. There’s nothing happening at the big league club, attendance numbers are down, they’re losing games, but I would rather them lose games with young guys than lose games by how they’re losing. Be patient. The time will come. It really will. It may come sooner than the trade deadline but it very well may come after the deadline. Just be patient.
Featured Image Credit: John Sleezer, KC Star