Every time it seems Kansas City’s offense hits rock bottom, they find a way to lower the floor. Within the last week they managed just 6 hits and 1 run against Jordan Lyles, 2 hits and 0 runs against Billy Buckner, and then yesterday, 2 hits and 1 run against Tyler Lyons. Getting shut down by the likes of Chris Sale and Justin Verlander is understandable, and maybe even expected, but getting shut down by just any random pitcher is inexcusable.
The team lacks any sort of punch. In the last two weeks they have managed a paltry 2 home runs, both by Miguel Tejada. But that’s okay, because today we learned that they are expecting to lead the league in fewest home runs and are fine with it.
Mar 5, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; Kansas City Royals designated hitter Billy Butler (center) talks with hitting coach Jack Maloof (right) during the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
“There is just no reward here (for us) to try and hit home runs. We try to stay down on the ball, be more line-drive oriented, and do more situational hitting at least through the first two or three rounds (at home) here. That’s why I’m not overly concerned because I think we’ll lead the league in fewest home runs again this year.”
Those are the words of hitting coach Jack Maloof, a guy that was brought in because the Royals hit so few home runs last year. He believed then that there was power potential in the lineup but now he’s singing a different tune.
Except that pretty much is an excuse. Hosmer hit 19 home runs as a rookie and Moustakas hit 20 last year. These two are both in their third season so it’s time to stop using youth and service time as reasons for their slumps.
I’ll give credit to Maloof for noticing that opponents have had no problem leaving the yard at The K but his reasoning behind that might be the most bizarre thing he said in the interview.
“Here’s the thing: Other teams come in here from Anaheim or wherever and they have their swing already down,” Maloof said. “This park doesn’t even enter into their minds when they hit here. They have their swings, the same swings, because it pays dividends for them at home.”
History is filled with guys who dominated at home but were merely average on the road (Jim Rice comes quickly to mind). Using Maloof’s logic, those guys should have also dominated on the road because they had their swings down.
It would have been nice if Maloof had come out and said, “Hey, we tried and it just didn’t happen so we’re gonna try to be patient and work the counts. We realize we need to draw more walks because more baserunners will lead to more runs, despite the lack of power”. He didn’t say that because that runs counter to the organization philosophy of swing early and swing often. He did say this though:
“What we need to do with our players, like we were in April, is be better at situational hitting. We were over 60 percent then in getting guys in from third. We’re under 50 percent now. We just need to execute better. In this ballpark, go ahead and hit the ball in play (with guys on third and less than two outs). You’re not going to hit a home run anyway, for the most part.”
Ah yes, situational hitting. Because playing for 1 run in the American League is the cure for this offense.
“I understand what fans’ frustrations are,” he said. “But we’re doing the best we can. If I get too caught up with what fans are saying, I wouldn’t sleep at night.”
Well we wouldn’t that. Some people have been known to have trouble sleeping when they are failing at their job but not good ol’ Jack apparently. No, it’s the fans that would keep him awake if he ever gave them any thought.
I have this overwhelming sense that the organization believes fans are more an annoyance than something they should strive to please. They may also believe fans are too clueless to know when a bad product is being thrust upon them. Keep putting Jeff Francoeur in right field while praising his leadership and ignoring his production. Keep putting Chris Getz at second base while a second round draft pick continues to beat minor league pitching like a drum. Keep telling us that Elliot Johnson is better than he really is. Any by all means keep believing that demotions will not benefit Hosmer and Moustakas at all. Accountability is for winners, we’ll have none of that here.
Fans aren’t stupid. They know, despite a good first five weeks, that this season is more of the same and the team is spiraling towards another 90 loss season. Dayton Moore and Ned Yost believe that the offense will just wake up one morning and start hitting.
Now you tell me, who is more clueless?