Apr 5, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals batter Billy Butler (16) singles in a run against the Chicago White Sox during the fourth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Things Could be Much Worse for the Kansas City Royals

Apr 9, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals left fielder Alex Gordon (4) celebrates with teammate Eric Hosmer (35) after hitting a three run home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Royals have struggled offensively during the first week and a half of the season. In their eight games, they have scored a total of 27 runs, 14 of which came in two games. Despite ranking ninth in on base percentage, the Royals are 26th in runs scored and 24th in OPS. They have only one home run, hit by Alex Gordon during yesterday’s game. The Royals have been able to get runners on base, but have struggled to bring them home with a .242 batting average with runners in scoring position, a number that was inflated due to their 2-5 performance yesterday.

The struggles have not ended with the Royals inability to consistently score runs. Mike Moustakas is beginning to show signs that he is Mr. March, as he is 1-26 after his second consecutive excellent Spring Training. Billy Butler is hitting .214 without an extra base hit. Danny Valencia has had to play second base due to Omar Infante being out of the lineup after getting hit in the jaw with a pitch, an experiment that had predictably awful results. The Royals bullpen, which was expected to continue it’s dominant ways from last season, ranks 26th in the majors with a 5.79 ERA. Just looking at the statistics, the Royals would seemingly be expected to have found themselves in a hole early in the season.

However, despite playing both the Detroit Tigers and the Tampa Bay Rays, two teams expected to contend for the playoffs this season, the Royals find themselves at .500 heading into today’s off day. In fact, with a bit of luck, the Royals record could have been even better, since they are 1-3 in one run games, with all three of those losses coming in the ninth inning or later.

How is that possible? For all the struggles that the offense and the bullpen have had, the Royals starting rotation has stepped up. Expected to take a step back with the loss of Ervin Santana, the Royals rotation has a 2.03 ERA and a .202 batting average against. Having faced off against several top starters already, the Royals rotation has done its best to keep the team within striking distance.

As improbable as it would be for the Royals rotation to continue to perform at this level, the rest of their struggles are not likely to persist either. The talent in the bullpen is enough where they should get back to their accustomed level of performance. Butler is not going to bat at a .214/.303/.214 rate all season. The hits, which have been coming when no one is on base, will begin to fall when runners are in scoring position. Moustakas will eventually see his batting average get past the Mendoza Line. The Royals will get better.

With the Minnesota Twins and the Houston Astros next on the schedule, this could be the time for the Royals bats to further the momentum from their seven run outburst yesterday. This may be the time where the bullpen rights itself and get back to being that dominant force that they were expected to be.

The Royals may have struggled in a number of ways in the early part of the season, but they still find themselves at .500. As bad as some things may seem, it could be a lot worse.

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  • jimfetterolf

    My impression is that those most worried about the royals didn’t think they were any good to begin with. I still like the team, have been pleasantly surprised by the starters, the relievers remind me of early last year when Holland stunk and Herrera threw batting practice, and Billy-Alex-Eric are starting a bit slow. The line up is good enough that it can afford a couple of weak hitters. I still like 90 wins, seen nothing to change that.

    • Dave Hill

      I’m still in the 86 to 88 range, but I’m there with you. I think that could be good enough for the playoffs and, if the Royals catch a few breaks, could put them in the playoffs.

      • unclejesse40

        It should be noted that I don’t think the Tigers are as good as they were last year.

        • Dave Hill

          Neither do I. They seem flawed with their defensive issues.

  • Larry Devore

    I’d settle for Moose to get above the .100 line

    • Dave Hill

      If he can hit above my body weight, I’d be ecstatic at this point.

  • Tman

    This article is fair. The reason to point this out is most preseason published opinions wanted to fire everyone. The Royals are a solid team. The most worrisome aspect may be the slow starts. The losses accumulated at the beginning of 2013 pounded the wind out any serious push to the post season, yet did not wipe out hope. The first few series of 2014 placed high demands on the Royals. As we know, Detroit and Tampa Bay are play off type teams. The Chicago White Sox are solid, although there record may not indicate it by year end.

    We will know what kind of team we have over the next 2 weeks. If the Royals make serious hay against the Twins and Astros, the match up with the Indians could indicate their play off chances. Avoiding a sweep at Cleveland combined with 2 more nail biters just might hint at an exciting season.

    By year end, we may not need a play off appearance to fulfill fans expectations. Would fans accept 90 wins and no playoff appearance? Oh yes! Would we accept 86? Not enthusiastically. How about 88 or 89? If we have Ventura, another starter along with a legit 3rd basemen going into next year. Yeah, fan support will be there for 2015.