KC Royals: Key players off the bench

During a 162-game season, clubs need solid contributions from their reserves. Here’s our thoughts on the Royals’ key players off the bench.

There’s no sports season quite like that of Major League Baseball.

With 162 regular-season games jammed into 5 1/2 months, team’s have no choice but to get as much out of their roster as possible. The Royals are no exception, especially as Alex Gordon gets older, Mike Moustakas returns from a blown out knee, Salvador Perez tries to remain fresh and Lorenzo Cain attempts to prevent the nagging injuries that limited him to 103 games last season.

Here’s the two Royals’ reserves we expect – and the team needs – the most out of in 2017:

Paulo Orlando, OF

Dismiss Orlando at your own risk.

A nine-year veteran of the minor leagues, Orlando made his Major League debut at the age of 29 in 2015. Best suited as a backup who can play all three outfield positions, Orlando started 115 games last year as Gordon, Cain and Dyson all battled injuries at some point. He responded better than most expected and hit a respectable .302, albeit without much pop. (He posted a meager .405 slugging percentage and only 33 of his 138 hits went for extra bases.)

Orlando’s slated to be the Royals’ fourth outfield in 2017 with Gordon, Cain and Jorge Soler set to start. But with Gordon’s age, Cain’s injury history and Soler’s limited mobility, Orlando will likely get plenty of at-bats.

Can Orlando improve on last year’s performance? While it’s probably too much to ask for more power, it’d be great to Orlando develop a little bit of patience at the plate. In 214 games with the Royals over the past two seasons, Orlando has a total of 18 walks.

That’s not a misprint.

Despite hitting .302 last year, Orlando’s OBP was only .329. For him to truly by a valuable backup outfielder, he’s got to find a way to get on base more.

Drew Butera, C

The Royals’ biggest offseason signing might the two-year, $3.8 million deal they gave to Butera to backup Perez.

After bouncing around his first five years in the big leagues, Butera seems to have found his comfort zone in Kansas City, coming over to the Royals from the Angels in a trade for Ryan Jackson in May 2015.

Last year was by far his best Major League season as he managed a very respectable .285 average, .328 OBP and .480 slugging percentage in 56 games.

Butera’s no spring chick – he turned 33 in August – but he’s arguably one of the better backup backstops in the league. More importantly, the more we see of Butera in the first half means the more Perez has to give in the second half.

We ran these first and second half splits of Perez’s yesterday, but they’re worth sharing again:

2014: First half – .283/.329/.437. Second half – .229/.236/.360

2015: First half – .262/.273/.453. Second half – .258/.289/.391

2016: First half – .283/.318/.500. Second half – .201/.248/.357

So yes, Butera needs to spell Perez more than once every three weeks before the All-Star break.

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