Players to Watch: Royals
- Alcides Escobar: Escobar is on a tear right now and has been rewarded by a significant bump up in the Royals’ lineup. Rather than hitting in his customary ninth spot in the order, Ned Yost has chosen to move Escobar into the No. 2 hole. This has allowed the Royals to make better use of his speed and ability to hit for contact. If they’re able to get both Jarrod Dyson and Escobar on base they can do some serious damage on the base paths.
- Billy Butler: Butler is having another great year for the Royals and has added a new weapon to his already impressive:arsenal, the long ball. That’s not to say Butler couldn’t hit the ball out of the park before, but he’s done so with much more consistency this year. His career ISO is .165 but this year he has put up a .233. His single season high for home runs in a season was 21 way back in 2009; he has 10 already in 2012 to go along with 33 RBI. And five of those 10 homers have come in his last 10 games.
Players to Watch: Indians
- Michael Brantley: All of the sudden Michael Brantley is hitting the cover off of the ball and robbing home runs. He did a tremendous job of putting the Indians on his back this past weekend given all the absences from the regular lineup. The question is, can he keep it up? Everyone’s been waiting for Brantley to bust out in 2012. Is this finally the time?
- Jason Kipnis: Much like Brantley, Kipnis really put the Tribe on his back over the weekend. He had his first multi-homer game of his career and was able to get his bat going. It looks like he might finally be out of the mini-slump he had found himself in over the past week and an half. With Cabrera, Santana, and Hafner all possibly out of the lineup, can Kipnis step into the No. 3 hole and provide a legitimate power threat? To put it simply, he needs to be if the Indians want to get back to their winning ways.
Series Trivia: With Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Santana, and Travis Hafner out of the lineup, the Indians are missing 58 runs, 76 walks, 27 doubles, 16 home runs, 67 RBI, and a combined OPS of .817. Those are some huge shoes to fill for a lineup that can struggle to score runs at times even with the varsity squad on the field.