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White Sox face Moustakas-less Royals, this weekend and beyond

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Kansas City third baseman is out for the year with a torn ACL

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It looked like Alex Gordon got the worst of his collision with Mike Moustakas in the left-field foul territory at U.S. Cellular Field during a rare White Sox victory on Sunday. First, he lay in a stupor for an uncomfortable amount of time. He did get to his feet and remain in the game, but only temporarily. He departed the game with what was originally called a wrist sprain, but is now a broken scapoid bone in his left hand. He's expected to miss several weeks.

Yet Moustakas' injury, while less immediately apparent, is far more costly. He played the rest of the game, but a sore knee kept him out of action afterward. The Royals hoped it was merely a strain and kept him on the bench while finishing up their road trip, but the return home offered no better news.

The Royals say Moustakas tore his ACL and is out for the season.

After the collision on Sunday, Moustakas underwent preliminary stability testing from Royals trainer Nick Kenney. The early tests offered mixed signals.

"It felt fairly stable to Nick in there," Yost said. "Like normally, when you just blow it out, you can just push your knee all over the place. Well, it did have an end point where it would stop. Nick thought it could be a strain of the ligament."

The next day, Moustakas tested the knee during a workout at Target Field in Minneapolis. When he could not complete the tests, he underwent an MRI, which revealed an issue. The ACL tear was confirmed by the Royals on Wednesday night.

There's an urge to start writing off the Royals after this news, as Moustakas was an integral part of their World Series run last year. Then again, Moustakas was just on the disabled list for a broken thumb he suffered -- and tried playing through -- and the Royals remain tough. They're 12-11 in a month where a not-right Moustakas was only able to contribute one hit in 16 at-bats. The Royals being what they are, that one hit was a game-tying pinch-hit single off Jonathan Papelbon in Washington, and he came around to score the walk-off run.

It is costlier when combined with the Gordon injury, which is its own test of what's real. Gordon wasn't hitting particularly well, either (.211/.319/.331), but even when both were healthy, the Royals languished toward the bottom of the league in runs scored.

Without Moustakas and Gordon, there's little keeping them from the offensive recipe that didn't work for so many years -- a contact-oriented approach, but a relatively empty batting average. Their top four hitters:

  1. Eric Hosmer: .297/.351/.497, 129 OPS+
  2. Sal Perez, .283/.315/.509, 121 OPS+
  3. Lorenzo Cain, .291/.346/.424, 110 OPS+, and then ...
  4. ... Jarrod Dyson? .259/.308/.341, 78 OPS+

You can bring in Paulo Orlando if you lower playing-time requirements a little, as he's hitting .397/.408/.534 over 76 PA in order to keep Horacio Ramirez's legacy alive. Beyond him, the only guy resembling a hitter is Whit Merrifield. He has an even smaller sample size as a 27-year-old who finally reached the majors this season, but I'm wary of a player whose name is that of a perfect fictional reluctant hero. The Royals make you look for projection-beaters even when it looks like they're running out of them.

One would think that the Royals won't be able to sustain success missing this much of their core, but the Sox have to deal with them immediately, which may be before reality has the opportunity to crush dreams under its weight. Plus, it's not like the shape of Robin Ventura's offense is scaring anybody, either. The Sox just don't have the recent successes or the convenient excuses to make it easier to tolerate.