It is far from a secret that the Kansas City Royals have struggled on offense in 2014. The Royals, as a whole, rank near the bottom in most offensive categories. They typically struggle to reach what seems to be the magical four run threshold, as their lack of power makes high scoring innings harder to come by. These points have been rehashed numerous times, to the point where they could probably be recited from memory.
A couple of days ago, Hunter went into great detail in his excellent article about the Royals lack of solid contact. He provided statistics and percentages for those things that we have bemoaned both here and via social media. The numbers are truly eye opening, such as how just over one out of every eight balls hit by the Royals are easy popups on the infield. While the Royals have struck out the fewest times of any team in baseball, having struck out only 234 times heading into yesterday’s games, they just have not gotten much from that contact.
Mark Simon of ESPN.com also looked into how hard teams are hitting the baseball this season. In his chart, which can be seen in the tweet below, the Royals rank 28th out of 30 teams in their percentage of hard hit balls, and are just .002 points out of last place.
MLB teams ranked 1-30 in how often they hit the ball hard. Mariners, Nationals, Athletics at top. The list– pic.twitter.com/5kft91Ll86
— Mark Simon (@msimonespn) May 19, 2014
Considering that the average major league player is expected to have a hard hit ball approximately once every six at bats, the Royals .133 hard hit percentage is far below average. While this statistic is subjective to a degree, it serves to underscore that the Royals offense has, generally, underperformed this season. It also further illustrates the Royals lack of power this season.
Yet, despite these issues, the Royals have hovered around .500. Getting Billy Butler back to form, and having Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez perform as expected will help. While this team is never going to be confused for containing a collection of true sluggers, one would expect that, based on track record, the Royals lineup would hit the ball harder than they have been.
The Royals have certainly fulfilled their goal of making contact. However, that contact has generally been weaker, and even when the balls fall in for a hit, the Royals still are not hitting the ball well. Hopefully, that will begin to change.