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Royals Offense Showing Signs of Life in May

The Royals are not a powerful team. You know this, of course, so I didn’t need to remind you, but I needed a way to introduce this article, and coming up with something more creative and in-depth is more than my sleep-deprived brain can handle right now. Yay for more west coast baseball! Anyway, I also wanted to bring up the fact that the Royals don’t hit for power, because they’re off to a strange start to the month of May.

As you can probably guess, the offense overall hasn’t done well in the first 7 games of May. They have a wRC+ of just 79, an on-base percentage of a paltry .292, and have scored 27 runs in 7 games, which includes their 8-run explosion yesterday in San Diego. That 3.86 runs per game average isn’t going to win many games, and sure enough, it hasn’t.

By most measures, the Royals offense in May has been what some would call a “dumpster fire,” although that title may be an affront to dumpster fires. However, there is one thing the Royals have improved upon in the first week of this month.

They’re hitting for more power. Kind of.

The team isn’t hitting much, as shown by their .238 average, but when they are getting hits, they are going for extra base hits more frequently. In March and April, the Royals had 68 extra base hits in 971 plate appearances, which works out to 1 XBH every 14.3 plate appearances. In the first 7 games of May, the Royals have gotten 1 XBH every 12.2 plate appearances. This increase in extra base hit frequency has also increased the team’s isolated slugging percentage from .106 in April to .123 in May. That improvement isn’t drastic, but their May ISO is 20th in baseball, while they were 29th last month. Still below average, but hey, baby steps.

They still aren’t hitting home runs at a high rate, which makes sense given the makeup of the team, and the fact that they have only played in Kauffman Stadium and Petco Park, two stadiums that suppress home runs. What the Royals are doing though, is hitting the ball hard and getting plenty of doubles. They have a line drive rate of 24.5% in May, which is in stark contrast to the 15.7% they put up last month. The Royals actually have the highest line drive rate in the league in May, which is a nice thing to see. They also have hit 18 doubles this month, which is, again, the highest total in the league.

Despite the relative increase in power and hard-hit balls, the offensive production remains extremely low. Why is that? One potential cause is their BABIP. In April, the team was able to have a .300 BABIP due to using ground balls and a lot of speed. Right now, the Royals have a BABIP in May of .274. Again, that’s with a line drive rate that is above the league average, which suggests they’ve hit into a bit of bad luck recently. Their BABIP isn’t insanely low by any means, but I would expect it to climb if they keep hitting the ball hard.

Granted, the sample for May is still extremely small, but the numbers are somewhat encouraging, because I think this is the kind of offense many people expected: lots of line drives, and lots of doubles. They are hitting the ball with authority to the gaps more frequently, and if they continue on this trend, better results should come.

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