It is a privilege to write a weekly article and be able to state an opinion about various topics – right, wrong or indifferent. When proven right, it is a bonus, but when proven wrong, it is important to point that out.
I am very glad to state that I was totally wrong about my opinion of both Adalberto Mondesi and Bubba Starling. Dayton Moore and Ned Yost earned world championship rings for a very good reason. They face criticism on a regular basis as the season progresses, and the team’s record fails to improve. For the past three years it has been my opinion that both Mondesi and Starling would not live up to the expectations of a major league player due to their lack of ability to hit consistently at that level. I was wrong.
Mondesi and Starling possess five-tool talent. The first three requirements are arm strength, speed and fielding ability. They are great physical athletes and these first three phases of the game came easy to them.
Baseball is a game that requires more than athletic ability and does not assure that a player can play at the major league level. The ability to hit the ball as an everyday player is an absolute must. The past three years have demonstrated the need for the Royals and the future of the team.
The Royals organization was hoping that both Mondesi and Starling could hit the baseball because they have all the other tools to be great. Hitting a baseball that is coming in at 100 mph is no easy task. Many players make a lot of money in the big leagues as natural hitters. Billy Butler could not run, field or throw but he was a good average hitter and he had some pop and power in his bat. Billy was an accident waiting to happen in the field and on the bases, but he had the instincts and good hands of a natural hitter.
This year Mondesi has proven he has the ability to hit major League pitching in the .270-.300 range and he is capable of hitting 25 to 30 home runs a year. It is a great tool when you have the ability to easily steal 30 bases a year. There are very few people on the planet who can pull off a 30-30 feat (30 home runs and 30 bases stolen). He is a great fielder who is able to get to many balls that lesser athletes can not reach. If he can become a little more consistent on routine plays, he will be one of the best shortstops in the league. He has a cannon for an arm and makes the play in the hole look easy.
Bubba has had the hardest journey to the big leagues. He is a tremendous athlete as he proved in high school. His big problem has been confidence in his hitting. The organization showed confidence in him when they brought him up. Bubba is now showing his doubters like me that he can play in the bigs.
He is a tremendous outfielder with a super arm and can run like a deer. He is the perfect specimen to be a major league center fielder. Hopefully, he will continue to show confidence at the plate and be able to hit in the .260 to .280 range. His power numbers should improve once he settles down and continues to learn the game.
If both these players continue to improve, Dayton Moore has his shortstop and center fielder to build around for the next five to six years. It takes some athletes longer than others to understand the game and adjust to the everyday grind of professional baseball.
An area that can affect the future of both Mondesi and Starling as cornerstones of the organization is injury. Both players have had to deal with several injuries in the past but if they stay healthy, they have a chance to bring the Royals back to a competitive playoff team.
I did not know what I was talking about when I said these two looked like bust, and I am thrilled I was wrong. If Dayton Moore has a hit on some of the pitchers they drafted the last two years, the future of the organization is starting to take shape. By the way, Billy Hamilton is a dead-end street.
• My quote of the week comes from the 16th President of the United States Abraham Lincoln: “Truth is generally the best vindication against slander.”
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.