Coming into the season, most people expected the Royals’ offense to be at least average. They weren’t expected to lead the league in home runs, by any means, but most players had the ability to hit quite a few doubles, and the team speed was expected to allow the Royals to steal plenty of bases. Taking all of that together, I think it was fair to think this offense would be around the middle of the pack in the American League.
Fast forward to today, and the Royals’ offense ranks dead last in the league, by wRC+.
At first glance, one may assume the lineup has failed to meet all expectations to be so low in the rankings. However, that isn’t actually the case. The Royals currently have more doubles than any other AL team, trailing only the Brewers, Dodgers, and Rockies in all of baseball. In June, the Royals have hit 20 doubles, which is the highest total in the game this month. Three Royals – Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon, & Alcides Escobar – are in the top 11 in doubles, among AL hitters.
The team also leads the league in the stolen base department, and only the Dee Gordon-led Dodgers have more when you look at all of MLB. Escobar and Jarrod Dyson are leading the team, but 5 Royals have at least 4 stolen bases.
So the Royals lead the league in two categories in which they were expected to do well, but overall, the offense is still awful. What happened?
This is where I’m obligated to remind you that the Royals have fewer home runs than any other team in baseball.
It’s not that the Royals have simply fallen short of expectations with the long ball. It’s that they apparently tried to jump across the Grand Canyon without so much as a running start, metaphorically speaking, of course. Attempting to literally jump across the Grand Canyon would be crazy, even if one takes a running start. But I digress.
The issues with the lack of home run power have been discussed ad nauseam, but the disappointment there is really only a part of the problem. A team can be successful without hitting a ton of home runs, as the Cardinals can attest to. But to compensate for the lack of power, a team has to get on base. The Royals are not doing that with any sort of regularity. Only the Mariners have a lower on-base percentage in the AL, and an offense leading the league in doubles and stolen bases can’t cover up a lack of baserunners.
Part of the on-base issues stem from a lineup that doesn’t draw many walks (14th in the AL in BB%), but even that isn’t something the team was expected to excel in. The Royals have consistently been below average when it comes to drawing walks – which is another problem I’ve discussed before – although they tend to help offset some of that by having success on balls in play. Several Royals this season, though, are not performing as well with their batting averages, which compounds the team’s problems. As a unit, the Royals are hitting .252, which ranks 10th in the AL.
Let’s recap, shall we? The Royals are doing as well as many expected in some areas, namely hitting doubles and stealing bases. But they have performed so incredibly poorly in other areas of their offense, that the parts of the offense doing well can’t pick up enough of the slack. The Royals aren’t hitting home runs, they aren’t drawing walks, and they’re not getting as many hits as most people expected. It’s as if the Royals are trying to bake a cake. They’ve got some high-quality sugar, and some very good vanilla, but then they add in rotten eggs and expired baking soda. I’m going to avoid the cheap joke about a “recipe for success” here.
All in all, the Royals may have a few nice components of their offense, but until they pick it up in the other – and more important – areas, they’ll continue to perform below expectations.
Tags: Kansas City Royals