The Royals Can Learn from May 2013
By David Hill
We all know what happened with the Royals last year. Their season was essentially doomed in May, when they were 8-20 and struggled to find consistent pitching or offense. While they rallied to have the best second half in the American League at 43-27, and climb back into contention for the Wild Card, their season all but ended with that slump in May.
However, those struggles, and the Royals subsequent performance afterwards, may have been the best thing to happen to the team. Even though the Royals fell short of their goal of reaching the playoffs, they still have the knowledge that they were able to fight back and produce their best season since 1989. If they had managed a .500 May, perhaps the season would have been different.
That resiliency is likely to manifest throughout the team as well. Now, a slump at the start of the year or during the middle of the season may not lead to the players placing as much pressure upon themselves as they may have in the past. Eric Hosmer is a case in point from last year. He struggled during the first two months of the season, producing a .261/.320/.333 batting line with only one home run. Yet, over the next four months as the Royals got hot, Hosmer did as well. He ended the season with a .318/.367/.494 batting line and sixteen home runs. Granted, that turnaround may be due to the tutelage of George Brett and Pedro Grifol, but it should still inspire confidence that, should Hosmer slump again, he will be able to break through.
While May 2013 was a rough time for the Royals and their fans, those struggles may turn out to be a positive for the team going forward. Now, if Hosmer struggles again, he knows that he was able to get through a rough patch previously and come through that stretch even better. Mike Moustakas may be more willing to stick with any changes in his swing and approach even if he struggles at the start of the year. Should the Royals lose a few games in a row, they can keep the season in perspective, knowing to take everything a game at a time and not to worry about trying to make up for three or four games all at once.
That mindset can help the team as a whole. Having a young lineup such as the Royals do, it could be easy to get wrapped up in what is not going right instead of trying to get through those problems. Now, they have been there before and have an idea as to how to right the ship.
The Royals struggles in May last year may have cost them a playoff berth, but they could help the team this season. They have been there before, and know what it takes to make their way out of that type of slump. That knowledge may be the difference between just missing a playoff spot and reaching the postseason this year.