Royals' superior defense was all part of Moore's plan
MAY 07, 2014 12:57p ET
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- When Royals general manager Dayton Moore arrived in Kansas City in late May 2006, one of the first things that struck him about the Royals was their lack of athleticism.
That lack of athleticism didn't align well with playing in spacious Kauffman Stadium.
"We knew we couldn't survive defensively with the team that was on the field," Moore said. "It just wasn't going to work."
The Royals back then regularly wheeled out players such as the largely immobile Matt Stairs, or the aging Reggie Sanders, or the often indifferent Emil Brown.
As a whole, the Royals back then were slow and plodding, and unequipped to handle all the room at The K.
The numbers proved it. Prior to the year Moore arrived, the Royals were 29th in baseball in runs saved above average with an alarming minus-114, according to baseball-reference.com.
Fast forward to 2013: The Royals were arguably the quickest, most athletic and best defensive team in all of baseball, posting a plus-95 in runs saved above average -- which indeed was tops in baseball.
And somewhat lost in the weekend drubbing at the hands of the Tigers was a significant ceremony held before Saturday's game: The Royals' three Gold Glove winners -- left fielder Alex Gordon, first baseman Eric Hosmer and catcher Sal Perez -- were honored and awarded their hardware.
It was a proud moment for Moore, and the organization.
"I'm really happy for the players and proud of them," Moore said. "It has been a lot of hard work by them. It's a joy to watch them make plays.
"Salvy and Alex and Eric work so hard on their defense and take such pride in their defense, it's nice to see them rewarded for their efforts."
And Moore and manager Ned Yost truly believe more such honors are on the way for other Royals, namely shortstop Alcides Escobar, center fielder Lorenzo Cain and perhaps even Mike Moustakas, if he, of course, can hit well enough to remain an everyday player.
"Esky, (second baseman) Omar (Infante) and Moose (Mike Moustakas) all have a great chance of being in that (Gold Glove) talk going forward as well," Moore said.
Escobar seems the closest to the award as he continues to dazzle with highlight plays almost nightly. And he has shed that image of too often making the great plays but booting the easy ones.
"As he's been in the league longer, he's gained more confidence and knows the hitters better," Moore said. "He has become even more sure-handed and a little more steady. He keeps getting better and better. Fun to watch."
Cain also is close to Gold. He already was named the Royals' defensive player of the year by Wilson Sporting Goods in 2013.
"This ballpark really allows him to showcase his athletic ability," Moore said.
It has been a long process, but Moore finally has the type of defensive team he envisioned when he arrived in 2006.
"We knew back then we had to do something about our defense -- it had to improve," Moore said. "You absolutely need speed in the outfield and we also were determined to get players elsewhere who made defense a priority. I'm proud of them."
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.