This week was marked by ups and downs—the up of sweeping the Twins and the down of losing back-to-back games to the Blue Jays. On the up side, the Royals got some tremendous pitching performances; on the down side, their offense is sputtering.
With that in mind, let’s get to the major themes of this week:
Averages can be deceiving
On average, the Royals score 4.3 runs per game, which would have put them just below but right around league average for last year. But has this offense looked even average? Not really. Instead, it might be beneficial to do what economists often do and look at the median runs scored, which in this very limited sample size, is three. In fact, the Royals have scored three runs or less in eight of their 12 games. Their average is buoyed by a 13-run game and a nine run game. It’s great to score that much, but those still only count as one win so if the Royals hope to contend into September, they’ll need more consistent offensive output.
If Mike Moustakas had started the game today, I’d call that the Royals optimal lineup. Jarrod Dyson playing in center field, Lorenzo Cain in right field, and Jeff Francoeur and his winning smile on the pine. Dyson played really well today. He scored one of the team’s three runs and would have scored another if Alex Gordon could have hit a sacrifice fly. Yes, he made a mistake in center field that cost the team a run, but how often is that going to happen? At the very least, this ABSOLUTELY should be the Royals lineup against right-handed pitchers.
If you’re looking for power, right now Kauffman is no place to find it. The Royals are tied for last in the AL in homeruns, and there are currently 18 players with as many or more homeruns than the boys in blue. Moustakas’s bat has been MIA. Eric Hosmer is hitting line drives and base hits instead of driving balls out of the park. Gordon’s spring power seems to have evaporated. It’s just not great to be a souvenir seeker at the K right now. If you believe Ryan Lefebvre, and I don’t know why you would, the Royals will start parking the ball once the weather gets warmer (i.e. in the next series when they play in Atlanta). Of course, that seems likely only because the homerun numbers seemingly couldn’t get any worse without a major injury to Billy Butler. It might be time to rethink our notion that the Royals could have five or six 20-homerun guys.
Beating the teams they should
Fans need to give props to the Royals for sweeping the Twins. Last year, they went 7-11 against a Twins team that was awful. This year, one of the constant refrains is The Royals have to beat the teams they should beat. And it’s true. It makes very little difference if they do well against the Tigers if they do terribly against the Twins. The winning strategy will be to at least break even with the Tigers (or somewhere around there) and destroy the Twins. So far, it’s working out.
That’s all for this week. It’s time for a tough road trip. This next week will really say something about the state of the Royals.