After three months, the Royals have 49 home runs as a team. That’s two homers more than the last place Miami Marlins.
There is some bit of a silver lining, however. The Royals hit 15 homers in April and 14 in May. It’s easy to simply blame Kauffman Stadium, and it’s true that the K depresses homer numbers. But last year’s team had 20 homers in April and 20 in May. They aren’t that different from this year’s team – in fact, with a healthy Lorenzo Cain and Salvador Perez, they have more power threats on paper. And yet after two months, they were way behind last year’s team.
Last June, the Royals hit 23. This year, they hit 20 in June. Not as good, but much better than their last two months.
Of those, they hit nine in Kauffman Stadium with the other 11 coming in just two stadiums – Tropicana Field in Tampa (where they’d hit four) and Target Field (seven). They played 14 games at home and 13 on the road and given their stadium, it’s probably fair to expect them to hit more homers on the road and overall this year, they’ve hit 20 homers in Kansas City versus 29 on the road.
The big difference between June and other months this season was the performance of Eric Hosmer. His power outburst led to six homers in June, a new career high in a month. Five of those have come just in his last nine games. Previously, he’d hit five homers in a month, but never six. The Royals have been on a bit of a drought in 6+ homer months. Billy Butler hit six homers last May and previously in July 2011. In 2010, Jose Guillen, Yuniesky Betancourt, Wilson Betemit, Mike Aviles, and Kila Ka’aihue had six in various months.
We know that Butler could pop out six homers in a month then, but getting a second potential player to hit that many in a month (which is roughly a 36 per year pace), is a positive. But even better? Most of those homers were complete bombs. He didn’t get cheated.
Hosmer Homers by True Distance (from Hit Tracker Online):
- 455 feet (vs. Hector Santiago in Kansas City)
- 436 feet (vs. Kris Medlen in Kansas City)
- 425 feet (vs. Jake Odorizzi in Tampa)
- 420 feet (vs. Anthony Swarzak in Minnesota)
- 412 feet (vs. Josh Roenicke in Minnesota)
- 365 feet (vs. Swarzak)
Of those, all but the last one off Swarzak would have left the yard at the K. Even that one may have been close.
So that’s encouraging.
Other than Hosmer, there was an even split between right-handed homers and left-handed homers. with seven homers for each group. The non-Hosmer lefties were led by David Lough‘s two homers, but Mike Moustakas, George Kottaras, Alex Gordon, Jarrod Dyson and Elliot Johnson (batting left-handed) all had one apiece.
Imagine that – in a season in which he was 100% healthy, Alex Gordon had less homers in a month than David Lough. Would have never predicted that. I discussed his rough June previously.
Salvador Perez had three homers for the righties, while Lorenzo Cain added two. Billy Butler and Jeff Francoeur tacked on the final two with one each.
It was a strange month, but it saw Butler, Moustakas, and Gordon snap homerless streaks. As the summer heats up, hopefully that will help them hit for more power in July and beyond.
Eighteen of the Royals homers came against right-handed pitchers, but the two that came against southpaws were hit against lefties (Hosmer’s bomb against Santiago and Gordon’s leadoff homer against Mike Minor of the Braves).
The Royals had one sequence of back to back homers, and it’s involved two of the most unlikely hitters on the roster. George Kottaras, who’s hardly played since Perez returned from bereavement leave, homered against Dylan Axelrod in KC then was followed by Jarrod Dyson’s line drive homer to right.
Those two homers got the Royals back into a game they would eventually win, but the biggest homer of the month came from Lorenzo Cain, whose two-run shot in the bottom of the ninth off Jose Valverde on June 12 tied the score and allowed the Royals to get a shot in the tenth to win.
That shot changed the Royals odds of winning from 4.7% after Cain got to 0-2 to 53.5% after Cain’s homer. It was a .488 WPA (win probability added) play.
All things considered, it’s a good thing to have the Royals hitting more homers. They averaged slightly more runs in June (4.00) than they did in April and May combined (3.94). If they can get a month where Hosmer is hot, Gordon is normal and Butler is hitting a couple of homers, they’ll start to score some runs.
I’d like to be excited by 20 homers in a month, but even if they’d done so in the first two months of the year, they’d be sitting on 60 homers on the season – which would still put them in last in the American League, thirteen behind the Twins. They would be two behind the 27th ranked Dodgers. There’s still work to do. If Hosmer can maintain his power (even if he just keeps the monthly pace going rather than his crazy nine-game results) and Butler and Gordon can wake up, they’ll be adding a lot more needed muscle to the Royals lineup.
(Big thanks to the guys at Hit Tracker Online for cataloging all of this information. Good resource right there and a fun site to click around on.)