by John Viril—
The biggest change in the Kansas City Royals roster this winter has been their complete overhaul of their starting rotation. The Royals have brought in three new starters (James Shields, Ervin Santana, and Wade Davis), and re-signed mid-season acquisition Jeremy Guthrie to replace 4/5ths of their starting rotation.
The makeover could improve more than the team’s pitching statistics. It could also address one of the Royals more puzzling sabermetric deficiencies: team defense. Though individual defensive metrics are well-known to possess many inaccuracies, team ratings are thought to be much more reliable. By that measure, Kansas City’s team defense ranked a disappointing 28th in MLB (dead last in the American League) in Baseball Prospectus’ defensive efficiency ratings. That ranking in no way matches up with the defensive reputation of the Royals’ individual position players.
In the infield, shortstop Alcides Escobar frequently makes spectacular plays by the eye test,...