I truly believe that if I picked up a bat today and stepped into the Royals lineup that I’d have a shot at hitting .300. Hitting is contagious, and this team has it bad right now. If you look closely, there are always about six batters gathered in the on-deck circle, just salivating for their turn in the box. It’s almost as if the hitters got together and figured out that the only way they’d be able to overcome the pitching woes is to simply out-hit and out-score their opponents.
Lately, the hits have been out of control (in a very good way). They’re averaging 1.64 hits per inning over their past 10 games. Lorenzo Cain made his much anticipated debut for the Royals in Friday night’s game and promptly went 2-5. Welcome to the team, you’re hitting .400.
A couple of weeks ago, I looked at a handful of guys who had a shot at hitting .300. I said that Melky Cabrera and Alex Gordon would achieve that goal, but I noted that Eric Hosmer would have to hit about .385 the rest of the way to make it to the .300 mark. He’s doing it – and becoming the most popular athlete in the city at the same time.
Rookie Catcher Salvador Perez has been nothing but impressive through 34 games. He’s hitting .338, and his OPS of .874 is only 5 points lower than Gordon’s team lead.
Remember when Alcides Escobar was hitting .203 in June? He went on a tear and has been able to hover right around .250 since. If he can get off to a better start next season, he has the capability to hit in the .280 range. Pair that with his Gold Glove quality defense and you’ve got your long-term shortstop.
How about Mike Moustakas? With all of Hosmer’s success and Moose’s struggles out of the gate, he’s been somewhat forgotten this season. He played 24 games with an average below .200, but something clicked has been impressive lately, and has raised his average to .259. He’s hitting .382 since August 17th, collecting hits in 27 out of those 31 games.
Contagious. Perhaps a sign of the young age of this team. They play loose, and when things are going well, everyone’s on board. You hope to see that become a lasting and consistent quality of this team. They need to have guys step up in times of famine, not just when everyone is feasting.
This squad has put up double-digit hits in 69 of 157 games. Their season high of 21 vs. Colorado came back on July 3rd. On Friday night in Chicago, they put 18 hits on the board. That marked the second time in as many weeks that they did that to the White Sox – enough to put a big smile on the face of any Royals fan, despite the team’s record.
Over the past 10 games, the Royals have put up 10 hits in eight of them. The two that they didn’t? Nine hits. They’re hitting .370 as a team. Now, I realize that hits don’t automatically add up to runs, but they sure don’t hurt. Over that span, the team is 8-2. Coincidence?
Obviously, the philosophy of simply relying on your offense to overcompensate for a lack of quality pitching is not a sustainable one. It’s working right now, and is fun to watch. Royals fans have rewarded the team by showing up in September to pay their dues to this team, who has continued to fight and get better despite being miles away from the pennant chase. It’s going to pay off.