Decoding the Depth Charts: Royals 1B/DH

A friend asked me the other day about depth charts, and wondered which had the most reliable information. I said that I didn’t really know about the best, but that I used Rotowire (because I pay for it) and (because I’m there) mostly. He wrote back that he wasn’t a Rotowire subscriber, but checked out some others and couldn’t understand why had Schilling as the Red Sox second starter and other inconsistencies with the spring news, which got me to thinking…

Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to look at some of the spring’s positional and role battles through the lens of the various depth charts available to me. That means free services and Rotowire and BaseballHQ are in play.

I hope we’ll learn something about depth charts, the services, and most important, who’s going to play this season. Let’s start with the Royals’ first base/dh battle.

The candidates are Billy Butler (535), Ross Gload (477), Ryan Shealy (162) and Justin Huber, who is converting to the outfield this year because of the logjam ahead of him. My playing time totals reflect the conventional wisdom, with Gload and Butler the putative starters and Shealy a sub or elsewhere.

Rotowire has Gload as the first baseman, Butler his backup, followed by Teahen and then Shealy, with Butler as the DH with Gload as his backup. For some reason they have Esteban German as the third string DH. has the same order at first base, but doesn’t include Gload at DH (just Butler and German).

Yahoo’s minimal approach puts Gload and Shealy at first, and Butler at DH.

ESPN, which is maximal, has Gload followed by Butler, Shealy and Teahen at first, and Butler, German and Gload at DH. comes to the rescue of creeping boredom, listing Shealy as the starter against lefties and righties (so far the only service to include platoon info), with Gload and Huber as subs at first base, and Butler as the DH. They also list the Triple-A guy at the position, if there is a meaningful one. has Gload the 1B starter and Shealy his backup, with Butler as the DH. also has Gload and Shealy at 1B, with Butler the DH. has the same. has Gload and Butler as the starters and doesn’t rank reserves. has the neatest information, as it were. They give playing time percentages for each player. At first base Gload (60), Shealy (20), Butler (10) and Teahen (10). At DH Butler gets (65), Huber (10) and Guillen (5). I assume DH doesn’t add up to 100 because of interleague games, though that wouldn’t account for 20 percent of the plate appearances as implied here. throws us a little curve, putting Butler, Gload, Shealy at first base (in that order) and Gload, Butler, Huber (in that order) at DH.

What did we learn? Everyone except Rototimes is lock step on this one. They’re declaring their affection for Shealy out front. I like him this year, too, though as a sleeper pick who could emerge if there’s an injury or either Gload or Butler gets off to a bad start. As a result I’ve knocked Butler and Gload down about 120 plate appearances total in my projections, and given those to Shealy.

1B: Gload, Shealy, Butler

DH: Butler, Shealy, Huber

And, it should be noted, that the Royals have too many players. Huber is out of optioins, I believe, and German becomes expendable with the arrival of Callaspo, so either Shealy or Huber could end up elsewhere.