This was supposed to be the point in the schedule where those ills that have plagued the Kansas City Royals would be cured. In the span of ten days, the Royals would play the Minnesota Twins twice, sandwiching a series with the Houston Astros. With the Royals entering this stretch of games at .500, and facing off against two teams that were predicted to be hapless this season, it appeared as though the Royals would be set to go on a run, potentially building some early season momentum.
Instead, the Royals found themselves swept by the Twins, getting outscored by a 21-5 margin. The offense has continued to be anemic, ranking last in baseball with 32 runs scored and one home run in their first eleven games. While batting average is not the best indicator of performance, it does not help the Royals cause that Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Nori Aoki and Alcides Escobar are all hitting .250 or worse this season. Meanwhile, the bullpen has posted a 5.13 ERA, in no small part due to the 17 walks in 26.1 innings this season. Aaron Crow is the only reliever to make more than one appearance and have an ERA below 4.00. In those all too few moments when the Royals have succeeded this year, it has typically involved the same people making those contributions.
These struggles may be affecting the Royals in other ways as well. It may be fair to wonder how much confidence they have in themselves at this point, given the all around struggles of the team. While they say that hitting is contagious, having most of the offense and bullpen in the midst of a slump may be contagious as well.
While it may be human nature to want to get back out there and push through the struggles until one find success, sometimes taking a step back can be just as beneficial. Today’s off day could provide exactly that for the Royals, a chance to get away from baseball for a day, letting the team as a whole clear their heads from what has to have been a disappointing series in Minnesota.
Even though one month cannot earn a team a postseason berth, it could potentially cost them one, as the Royals discovered with their 8-20 record in May of last year. It is still far too early to be forecasting doom for this year’s incarnation of the Royals, and if this slump was occurring in the middle of the season, it would just be a blip on the radar. Yet, given how early it is in the season, slumps such as these stand out. A player has to know when they are struggling, yet seeing their numbers posted on the scoreboard whenever they step up to the plate or head to the pitcher’s mound cannot help matters.
What the Royals might need more than anything else is a chance to clear their heads and take a step away from baseball for a day. This off day may have come at the perfect time for the Royals.
Tags: Kansas City Royals