It has been the best of times and the worst of times for the Royals over the past week. There has been the elation of a ten game winning streak and the Royals being a game and a half in first, and the resignation over their three game losing streak which has taken them out of the top spot in the Central. The past couple of weeks have certainly been a roller coaster of emotion.
During this most recent losing streak, the Royals issues have cropped up once again. While the pitching and defense have been worthy of a playoff team, the Royals offense has once again begun to falter. Including the five runs scored against Hisashi Iwakuma on Friday, the Royals have scored a total of nine runs in their last four games. An upgrade or two, particularly in right field, appears to be needed.
Heading into yesterday’s game, the Royals were 14th in baseball in runs scored. This was mainly due to timely hitting and being able to string together hits over their most recent run. Yet, even with that surge and despite hitting 21 home runs in the 21 games that Dale Sveum has been the Royals hitting coach, Kansas City still ranks 20th in OPS and is 22nd in total bases. The Royals are still far too dependent on needing two or three hits to scratch a run across the board.
The Royals, in order to maintain their run towards the postseason, are going to need another bat. In fact, given the struggles that the Royals offense can have when everything is not going close to perfectly, they need that bat sooner rather than later. To be able to make a truly legitimate run at the Central, it will take more than pitching and defense – the Royals will need another middle of the order bat.
The problem is, not many teams have thrown the white flag on the season. While there are several teams that would not appear to have much of a chance at making the playoffs, those franchises have yet to begin selling off their players. This, obviously, limits the players available. Likewise, if a team has yet to concede the season, the price tag for an impact player is going to be higher.
However, that price tag, unless a team is demanding Yordano Ventura or Kyle Zimmer as part of the package of prospects, should not matter. The Royals find themselves in the rare position of actually being able to contend for the postseason, giving a playoff starved fanbase a glimmer of hope. Look at what Kauffman Stadium was like on Friday and the excitement of the fanbase following the series against the Detroit Tigers. Imagine what that would be like if the Royals could get that player to put them over the top.
The problem is, the longer that the Royals wait to acquire that impact bat, the odds increase that they could find themselves falling out of the playoffs. After all, this is a team that, prior to the ten game winning streak, was hovering around .500 for the season. Even with the recent uptick in home runs, the offense likely is still not prolific enough to carry the Royals to the playoffs. They need that power bat.
If the Royals wait until the trading deadline to acquire an upgrade to the lineup, it may be too late. They need to make a trade, and soon.