Royals Rewind : 6/14-6/20 – Interleague Fun!


This week, the Royals experienced a roller coaster of interleague games, taking two of three games from the last-place Houston Astros in Kansas City (with DH) before traveling to Atlanta and getting swept by the first-place Braves (sans DH).

The Royals had some winnable games in Atlanta, but didn’t come through in key moments and it cost them two games.  Somehow, despite a 2-4 record, the Royals were plus 3 in run differential, scoring 35 (fourth most all week) against 32 runs surrendered (eighth most).

The Numbers
The Royals only walked in 6.4% of their plate appearances, though they averaged nearly 11 hits a game. Fifty of their 65 hits were singles. Billy Beane would hate this team.

3-6 in stolen base attempts, including Jason Kendall‘s seventh caught stealing. He might get caught stealing himself more times than he catches others this season.

Staff ERA: 5.29
Starters ERA: 6.90
Bullpen ERA: 3.00
Quality Starts: 2 (Zack Greinke and Anthony Lerew)
Royals starters only made it past the fifth inning in three of their six starts.
Kyle Davies had two of those sub-5 IP starts.

David DeJesus: 12-26 – He’s just raking week after week
Mike Aviles: 9-25, 7 RS , 5 RBI
Jose Guillen: 8-24, 3 RS, 2 RBI – In the midst of a 15 game hitting streak and being showcased in the outfield. Yes, you read that correctly.
Alberto Callaspo: 8-26 – Starting to get back on track, but hasn’t homered since May 20 and only two doubles in June
Billy Butler: 7-24, 6 RS, hit his 7th homer as the power seems to be heating up with the weather
Scott Podsednik: 6-21, 5 RS, 7 RBI, 2 SB, Hit the game winning homerun in the last game of the Houston series
Victor Marte: 6.2 IP, 1 ER, 0.60 WHIP in long relief
Anthony Lerew: 6 IP, 7 K, 2 ER vs. Houston that should have been unearned in my opinion

Jason Kendall: 4-19 – Can’t say he needs to be released or benched entirely, but maybe it’s time to give Pena a chance to get in the lineup more often.
Yuniesky Betancourt: 3-19 – So there’s that…
Brian Bannister: 4 IP, 5 ER – Also got battered in Cincinnati. Confidence might be shaken.
Kyle Davies: 7.1 IP, 10 ER – Control has returned to former shakiness, and he’s getting hit, too.

The Verdict
Despite 11 walks, the Royals had a shot to beat Atlanta in the last game, which would have been a nice pick-me-up to sneak away with. Instead, it’ll be interesting to see how the team reacts in Washington. The last game of the road trip is against Stephen Strasburg.

That’s not a good recipe for success.

With Gil Meche and Luke Hochevar both on the DL, the Royals were relying more on Brian Bannister and Kyle Davies to step up and get outs. Instead, they’re putting up some of the worst performances of their career. When Bruce Chen is settling in as your #2 starter, your team has some issues.

The bullpen has looked good, though Blake Wood is showing some chinks in his armor. One day after a clutch relief performance that saw him strike out Chipper Jones with the lead run on third and only one out, he returned the next day to take the loss, giving up three runs.

The Jason Kendall experiment has continued, but he’s clearly not getting the job done batting second. Mike Aviles isn’t the most patient hitter on the team, but he’s shown the ability to hit for average in the past with occasional power and has the same penchant for slapping pitches the other way.

The torrid pace of Billy Butler, David DeJesus and even Jose Guillen is nice to see from the middle of the order, but with the on-base black hole of Podsednik and Kendall in front of them, it limits run-scoring opportunities. Podsednik isn’t going anywhere, but if he did, I wouldn’t be opposed to Mitch Maier in the leadoff spot. Sure, he doesn’t steal as much as Podsednik, so he doesn’t fit the mold of a “traditional” leadoff hitter, but with a major league career walk rate of 9.8%, he’s got Podsednik’s career (8.1%) and 2010 (7.5%) rates beat. Their career on-base percentages are only .006 apart (granted Maier has a much smaller sample size).

Would this lineup be much worse at creating runs than what we currently have?
CF Maier
2B Aviles
RF DeJesus
1B Butler
DH Guillen
3B Callaspo
SS Betancourt (ew)
C Kendall
LF Podsednik (the theory of the “second leadoff hitter”)

I think not. I’d even consider that it would exceed the production we’re seeing now.

Will Ned Yost make such a change? Will the Royals pick it up against the Nationals before traveling home to face the Cardinals? We’ll check that out next week.

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