The Kansas City Royals came into the 2014 season with a plan for success. The offense was designed to get on base and put pressure on the opposition, relying upon speed and the ability to put the ball in play to score runs. Their pitching staff, in particular the bullpen, was expected to be able to keep the score down, allowing the Royals to win low scoring games. The defense was expected to be Gold Glove caliber throughout the lineup, with three award winners last year and two other players that were nominated.
Needless to say, things have not gone as planned in the early going. The offense has struggled to put runs on the board, scoring all of 29 runs in eleven games. Likewise, the bullpen, a strength of the Royals last season, has also struggled thus far, posting a 5.87 ERA heading into today’s action. Yet, the biggest concern may be the Royals defense, which has already committed seven errors so far.
Already, we have seen normally sure handed players missing plays that they would normally be expected to make. The Royals have had six wild pitches already this season, after having 60 all last season. Salvador Perez has seen a couple of pitches get past him that have led some fans to question his effort to get in front of the ball. Alcides Escobar has seen grounders go off his glove, and has rushed throws to first on several occasions. Likewise, Eric Hosmer has started trying to scoop the ball on a short hop, instead of just picking the ball as he had been. Mike Moustaks already has almost as many errors (two) as hits (three) on the season. And there was the eleven inning experiment of Danny Valencia at second base.
However, much like the struggles on offense and in the bullpen, the defensive issues are not likely to continue. Quite frankly, the Royals fielders are better than what the statistics would indicate thus far. With three defending Gold Glove winners, and several other players that could be nominated for a Gold Glove in the future, the Royals defense is much better than it has appeared to be in the early going.
The Royals defense will get back to their high level of performance, and hopefully soon. Once that happens, these struggles in the early part of the season will just be a distant memory.