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Are the Royals Really a Second-Half Team?

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The Royals haven’t gotten off to a stellar start in the second half. After being swept by the lowly Red Sox over the weekend, they were not able to take advantage of a strong outing by Jeremy Guthrie on Monday night, and have now lost their first 4 games since the All-Star break. All of that has happened since this:

This quote has, of course, been mocked by many Royals fans as the team continues to struggle. While the Royals did have an outstanding second half in 2013, that success is no guarantee of success in the second half of 2014, and yet that seems to be something the Royals’ front office is counting on for the rest of this year.

Following that quote, I’ve been wondering to myself, mostly aloud because I’m incredibly awkward: Are the Royals really a second-half team?

Luckily, the internet keeps track of such things as splits before and after the All-Star break, so I sought out to discover if Yost’s statement had any merit. One could suggest that if the players typically perform better in the second half individually, perhaps the team as a whole may see an increased level of production. There are a few ways of breaking this down, but I decided to keep it fairly simple, and went with OPS. Here, then, are the relevant statistics for the Royals’ nine regular hitters, using their career numbers entering Monday night.

Player
1st half OPS
2nd half OPS
Lorenzo Cain.717.703
Omar Infante.708.735
Eric Hosmer.717.793
Salvador Perez.764.788
Alex Gordon.764.799
Billy Butler.777.850
Mike Moustakas.676.663
Alcides Escobar.662.620
Nori Aoki.728.737

A few notes:

– Historically, Billy Butler is, by far, the best second-half hitter on the team.

– Butler and Eric Hosmer have the largest gaps between their first and second half OPSes.

Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon have incredibly similar numbers.

– The regression bug seems to hit Alcides Escobar by mid-July.

– Six of the nine regulars increase their OPS production in the second half.

– The average first half OPS for those hitters is .724.

– The average second half OPS for those hitters is .743.

In other words, it does appear that this group of Royals tends to get better after the break. Whether or not that actually happens in 2014 is yet to be determined. Obviously this team is going nowhere with the offense performing the way it has been, so something must be done. Dayton Moore believes in this team, and I wouldn’t be all that surprised if they stand pat at the trade deadline, continuing to bank on improvement from the current lineup.

The problem, however, is that the Royals continue to slide back in the playoff race, and if the improvement is going to come, it needs to arrive soon, before it’s too late for the team to make a push. History may be on their side, but time certainly is not.

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