Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals' Offense & A Lack of Solid Contact


Danny Duffy was masterful on Saturday night. He retired the first 20 batters he faced, and while he only collected 2 strikeouts, he generated a ton of of weak contact throughout his 7 innings of work. Wade Davis and Greg Holland were excellent as well, striking out 5 batters in their 2 combined innings. Despite all of that, the Royals were left sweating out a one-run victory in the 9th inning, because the offense once again was disappointing.

Many of the problems for this lineup have been covered, but I noticed some interesting numbers that are too depressing to keep to myself. Much has been made of the Royals’ groundballing ways, and they do have the 2nd highest ground ball rate in the majors, at 49.3%. They also have not hit as many line drives as you’d like to see, evidenced by their line drive rate of 17.5%, which is the 3rd lowest rate in baseball. Those numbers, by themselves, give some indication about how poorly the offense has performed. But it doesn’t stop there.

The Royals also lead all of baseball in infield fly ball rate, at 13.4%. In other words, 1 out of roughly every 8 fly balls hit by the Royals doesn’t leave the infield. Infield fly balls will very rarely fall for hits, and, unsurprisingly, will never fall for a home run. Of the possible batted ball outcomes, an infield fly ball is the least desirable for an offense, and it’s not particularly close. A ground ball can find a hole, and a fast team can reach base with those grounders more frequently.

Infield fly balls offer no real upside. It’s generally the weakest form of contact, and the Royals have hit them, on a per fly ball basis, more frequently than any other team. That’s not a good way to score runs.

Additionally, as you may have heard, the Royals are not very successful at hitting home runs. They’ve hit just 18 of them on the season, and their HR/FB rate is currently at 4.5%. That means that 1 out of every 22 fly balls is resulting in a home run.

The Royals are nearly three times as proficient at hitting infield fly balls than they are at hitting home runs.

No other team comes even remotely close to that pitiful level of production.

Combine everything together, and it’s really quite easy to see why the Royals are one of the worst offenses in the league right now. They simply have too many hitters not squaring up enough baseballs. Among players currently on the roster, only Billy Butler, Jarrod Dyson, and Johnny Giavotella have infield fly ball rates under 10%. Omar Infante and Salvador Perez both are hitting infield flies on more than 20% of their fly balls.

It’s possible to still be successful with an above average infield fly ball rate, but an offense must possess some other skill to counteract that. Whether that’s hitting a ton of line drives, or hitting more home runs, or something else. It doesn’t matter all that much what that skill is, but a team has to do one of those things to score runs while they hit infield flies at that kind of clip. Unfortunately for the Royals, they’re not really doing any of those things, which is why they’re in the position they’re in. And until they start making solid contact more consistently, the offense is going to continue to struggle.

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  • jimfetterolf

    Any idea why these things are happening?

  • moretrouble

    I am using the “eye test;” more a feel of how the club looks on the field, rather than stats … but, I think Aoki is a bit slow getting used to the league. He’s facing most of the pitchers for the first time — and while that’s understandable — when you add that Infante has been out of the line-up a lot, the guys in the middle aren’t coming up to the plate with as many MOB as the club thought. Pitchers can pitch the middle hitters tougher and those guys are finding it tough to generate offense.

    At this point, it’s difficult to see them going outside the organization for help … who would they replace and with whom? Their best opportunity to improve will be getting Infante back in the line-up and hoping that Aoki can improve his production the second time around the league. Other than that, I’m not sure they can do much — except hope that Butler gets himself turned around.

    • cardsfanatik

      I would actually go outside the organization and get a 3rd basemen. Moose needs to go to Omaha….period. Its not all his fault either. He has been left to struggle for to long. He’s batting around .160 through 1/4 of the season. Enough is enough. One hit here and there DOES NOT JUSTIFY LEAVING HIM HERE!!! I’m not saying cut him loose, but send him down. I’m not sure who you trade for, or who you trade to get them, but we have some prospects, that could bring in a 3rd sacker that if he could hit 100 points higher than the .160, would be a HUGE upgrade to this offense. The 2015 FA’s to be include Chase Headley, Casey McGehee, Eric Chavez, and AmRam. All of whom would be an upgrade to what we have. Getting Aramis and Headley would probably be the hardest. You might also keep and eye on Juan Francisco. If Toronto needs the roster spot, I would definitely claim him and option Moose. The defense would probably suck, but he is hitting the ball. Truth is there aren’t a TON of options out there, but the sad part is, even the washed up shitty ones that still don’t have a contract, would probably produce more than what we have gotten. Juan Uribe might be able to be had, hell sign Kendrys Morales, move Hosmer to third, BB to first and Morales to DH. At this point, I don’t care, but do something, because after Shields departs, everyone’s price goes up, this year is looking like a do it now, or not gonna happen. Unless payroll takes a hike in the upward direction. Don’t want to be doom and gloom, but its time to shit or get off the pot.

      • jimfetterolf

        So who do you trade? Duffy? Ventura? Zimmer? Mondesi? Me, I’ll send Moose down when Infante comes back and platoon Valencia and Gio at 3rd, getting the .260, and if Gio can’t handle it bring Colon up, who’s hitting a little at Omaha. Like last year, the Royals can handle a weak stick with a good glove, so may be too early for desperate moves outside the business model. Wonder what Greg Jeffries is doing?

        • cardsfanatik

          Honestly jimfetterolf, i really don’t care WHO they trade. Watching losing baseball has become stale. You can pretend it will change, and you can preach your patience, I have none. Its been gone for around 20 years now. Parts of this team do show real promise. Parts of it show just how shitty the Royal’s are. I’m not trying to pick a fight when I say this, but the “opening” for winning baseball in this city isn’t getting any longer truthfully. Its here now. UNLESS, in the offseason Glass and Moore decide they want to spend some money. Moustakas is lost, and probably permanently as long as they have let him struggle. He’s young, but he’s not a prospect anymore. And truthfully, if someone called and said we’ll trade you Giancarlo Stanton for Mondesi, Gordon, Duffy…………..I would probably do it. Gordon would be the hardest one of those for me to let go. I love Alex. Duffy is completely inconsistent, (although has looked really good lately), and Mondesi has proven nothing. Stanton is a monster. But that is the type of bat that I’m talking, and to get that bat, your going to give something up.

          • jimfetterolf

            Nobody forces you to watch the Royals. I think you do because you love to gripe :) For others of us, watching the construction of the team and how it plays out is the interesting part from a business stand point, as baseball is just a game giving people vicarious emotions from the comfort of their couches. For me, my favorite part of the year is the off-season.

            I would add for our readers, Dave Glass didn’t destroy the franchise, that would be Ewing Kauffman.

            As for the trade you mention, that is funny, getting a guy to hit 30 homers in exchange for some serious talent and one of the top rated prospects at a premium position. Maybe you could trade that package for Wil Myers. Bet the Rays would take it. Sounds like something the Rangers or Angels would do. You could probably get Prince Fielder for half that package, who needs Duffy and Mondezi anyway :)? You could probably get Dan Uggla for Mondezi.

          • cardsfanatik

            You are serious? You couldn’t touch Fielder for that package. And your talking about a pitcher, whom has been totally inconsistent or hurt since making his ML debut, and prospect who has proven NOTHING, (he’s looked good in the minors, but so did Moustakas and a million others) and a Gold glove LF’er. Gordon is the ONLY one of those that would be painful for me to let go, for an OF’er who is going to consistently mash 35 HR’s and play good D. I still think that if you called Miami with what I proposed they laugh, and say we’ll take that plus some. Stanton and Gordon are the only two who have shown anything. And if your telling me you would rather have Alex in left than Stanton, well then buddy, there is nothing I can say to you. And as far as griping, I am entitled, if you had to eat shit for 30 years, you would bitch too, but since you don’t actually like “the game” aspect, why discuss it with those of us that do? I could give a shit less about the “business” end of it. Baseball in Kansas City has only been a “business” to line David tight ass Glass’s pocket for the last 3 decades anyway. I’ve seen the numbers, and even with lower ticket prices, and even with lower concessions, and even with lower souvenir prices, David Glass has made out like a bandit. People are FAR to concerned with a prospect that has shown nothing, I’ll take a 24 year old Stanton, over a 19 year old Mondesi ALL DAY LONG.

          • jimfetterolf

            I take it you don’t actually follow Fielder’s career? Send him a get well card, whether for his impending spheris plate insertion or for the season he’s had thus far.

            As for Gordon, been wanting to trade him and still do.

            As for the rest, you’re hysterical. The vicarious emotions are getting to you, hope you never face and real trauma in your life.

          • cardsfanatik

            Your an idiot.

  • Tyler_KC_Fan

    One thing we have to keep in mind is this team is not built to hit HRs. We are a small-ball team. Yes, our offense has been terrible some games. The fact is, we will get better. Their is no way the offense stays like this. We’ve been seeing little bits of how this team can actually work offensivly. Once Hosmer, Gordon, Butler and Salvy start hitting consistently or with some sort of consistency, the offense will be fine. I don’t care what they are like now, last year they were terrible too and had one of the best second halfs of any team and franchise history. So, they may be strugglng now, they know that, but it will change.

    • cardsfanatik

      And I hate to say it, but this team isn’t built for HR’s. You are correct, but they need to hit more than 18 as a team in a month and a half. Its pathetic, and inexcusable. The era of small ball is dead. Your not going to win in today’s baseball era without at least one guy that can mash. Its just how it is. I believe that if you go over the last few years of teams to make the post season, 20 HR’s was not their top mark. It was last year or the year before that St. Louis had like 5 guys with more than 20. Detroit has Miggy (bastards), low batting average or not, ChiSox have Dunn, Konerko, and now Abreu. The teams that win, aren’t “small ball” teams (although they have been sucking too). I could go on with teams and guys that can hit balls out of the yard. And, no other team comes to the K and says, “waaaa, we can’t hit it out here”, nope, other teams don’t have problems finding the fountains. Get a new hitting coach, or change something. This isn’t Whitey’s Cardinal’s. That era has come and gone. This team needs to find a thumper. If they have him in the minors, bring him up, if there is one in the Dominican, sign him. If they can get one via a trade, DO IT. Butler is not a HR hitter, never has been. He’s Lyle Overbay with a little better BA. The Royal’s SHOULD have signed Cruz. They could STILL sign Morales, which I’m not sure he’s any better than what we have. The fact of the matter is, the Royal’s will never have that masher, because ownership won’t pony up the cash. Winners are expensive, and Glass doesn’t like spending money, so what you see, is what you’ll get, as long as Scrooge McTightass Glass owns the Royal’s. And Moustakas needs to go.
      Just an FYI, if he fails to produce as a viable MLB 3rd basemen, here are some players the Royal’s COULD have had in that draft
      Matt Wieters, Jason Heyward, Rick Porcello, Josh Donaldson, Jordan Zimmerman, Giancarlo Stanton, and Freddie Freeman.
      I’m not to sure its all the players faults why the Royal’s suck yearly, could have something to do with the scouting and drafting department. :/

      • jimfetterolf

        Jose Guillen and Mike Jacobs are probably still available :)

        • cardsfanatik

          And at this point, I would take Guillen over Moose. :/

      • Tyler_KC_Fan

        Ready for the novel response!

        The small-ball method might be a little old, but I wouldn’t say it is dead or wont work. Remember, the Royals didn’t switch from a small-ball team to a power team the second half of last year and they finished with one of the best records in baseball. It comes down to starting pitching and making the opponent pitching work instead of letting them get out of innings easy or quick. Would I like to see the Royals pound the ball out of the park multiple times a game and series? Of course, who wouldn’t? But we don’t right now. Hosmer is a legitimate hitter and he may have the ability to something like that, but right now he isn’t. Butler is old news. If you listen during the games the crowd isn’t cheering for him anymore, they are booing him. Their are a few fans still around that love Billy, but for the most part, KC is ready to see him go.

        As for going out and signing players. Cruz would have been nice, not going to lie. So would Beltran. The fact of the matter is, we traded for Aoki so we could have a lead off hitter (no matter how bad he is at times, he has had quite a few games where he’s on base more than once). If we had signed Beltran, we wouldn’t have traded for Aoki. We didn’t get Beltran, so we made the trade. At that point we had Aoki, Gordon, Cain, Dyson, Maxwell and Lough. We traded Lough for Valencia, so we then had 5 OF. Signing Cruz would have put us back at 6 OF. Maxwell had a great finish to last year, so Moore and Yost were going to hold onto him for a power RHH. Dyson is freakishly fast and during his time playing his speed did a lot of positive for the team. The fact of the matter is, we were never going to sign Cruz to a multi-million dollar deal and lose a draft pick when we already had 5 OFs that at the time looked solid.

        Looking back in drafts make no sense. The Royals could have had so many present day superstars it’s not even funny, but so could all these other teams. Moose coming out of high school was a monster. He holds the HR record in the state of California and he has monster power. He was a fantastic SS as well. When the Royals drafted him, he was the saving grace for power. The Moose had a great start to his career, but has struggled since because he is constantly changing his stance, tweeking his bat position, or working on something. If he stays with what he was doing he would be fine.

        Let me ask you these questions.
        - What would you rather spend your money on: Shields or a power hitter?

        - If the Royals were offered the trade for a power hitter (for one the these players; Gordon, Ventura, Salvy, Hosmer, Holland or Shields) would you make the trade?

        - What do you think the Royals have that they can afford to trade?

        - Why do you think Glass is so tight with his money? Do you think it may be the fact that the Royals have had 2 winning seasons sense 1993? That the average Royals attendance is right around 10,000 fans in a stadium that can hold over 40,000?

        - Why do you think the Royals franchise record of HRs in a single season is 37?

        • cardsfanatik

          Question number 1. Power hitter.
          #2 I would trade Gordon or Holland for a power hitter in a New York Minute. I love them both, but both are replaceable. And by power hitter, I mean a CONSISTENT power hitter. I would take 40 HR’s 100 RBI’s from left field over the stellar D any day.
          #3 If you do the research, which you should if you haven’t its quite interesting, since Glass has taken ownership of this team, and slashed payroll to less than shit, this team has sucked. A once very proud franchise is now a joke.
          #4 I would take 37 HR’s from someone, anyone, and be happy about it. How long has it been since one of these punchin-judy girls have hit 30?
          I would not trade the farm for power, but I would certainly entertain the notion of moving some people around.

          • Tyler_KC_Fan

            So by letting Shields go, are you banking on Zimmer being what he’s projected to be, or who are you putting in the rotation to fill Shields spot?

            I can see Holland being traded because Davis could easily become the closer and Herrera taking over the 8th inning responsibilty. But Gordon being replaceable? With who? Who do the Royals have that can play Gold Glove caliber defender, along with the ability to catch fire at any point and blasting the ball? If you think Gordon is replaceable, who exactly is taking his spot, in your opinion?

            I’m not saying that you’re wrong about the teams record with Glass as the owner, because it is pretty bad. But the fact of the matter is the money drove the league. We had George Brett, Bret Saberhagen, Frank White, Willie Wilson (All these great players on the team) for dirt cheap. George Brett, a HOFer, had 2 years out of his 15 year career where he made over $3M a year. Now, I understand that during the early 1990s that $3M was big cash, but in today’s world, that is roughly $8M a year. That’s how much Butler is making this year. Shields is making more money in 1 year than George Brett made in 3 years. In fact, that’s more than George Brett made in his first 8 years in the league. Someone did the calculation, Miguel Cabrera is making roughly $46,000 PER AT BAT with his new contract. Now, based off the fact that our single HOFer was making an average years salary compared to todays world, where are you confused on the financial situation of the team? We didn’t pay our players very much when we were World Series Champions, and we still aren’t. We are a small-market team, meaning we don’t have a lot of money to give out. Our TV contract is dirt, our ticket prices are dirt cheap (20 teams have a higher average ticket price than the Royals. We are at about $25 a ticket. Boston is at $52, NYY are at $51 and Huston is at $27) and everything, we the fans, spend money on is less expensive than nearly three quarters of the teams. If you want the Royals to sign a big name player that has a lot of power and is a huge game changer, everything goes up in price. Now, fans barely make it out to the stadium when tickets are at $8… what makes you think they would come out when the cheapest ticket is $30-$40? Fan attendance and money runs the league. Both of which the Royals don’t have a lot of.

            The HRs. Yeah, I thiink anyone would take someone who could hit 30 HRs in a year. Fun fact. Out of every player to come through the Royals fanchise, only TEN have hit 30 or more HRs in a single year. TEN. The best player that has ever come through the Royals fanchise, George Brett, had 30 as his season best. So the fact of the matter is, we have never had a crusher on our team.

            But my next question:
            Who are you going to get that is going to change the offense? Realistically, who are the Royals either:
            A. Going to trade and get in return.
            B. The Royals able to afford.