Royals Offense, A Self-Fulfilled Prophecy
By Ed Connealy
Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
“Pessimism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; it reproduces itself by crippling our willingness to act.” – Howard Zinn
Many fans and followers of the Royals are critical of their lackadaisical, sunshiny approach to their players. Fair enough. This is a team that collects “balls hit hard” as a stat, and has gyrating , fingers dance, celebration antics for bloop singles. A very long column could be written supplying examples of the Royals coddling egos, protecting “wins”, and giving fourth and fifth chances to below average players.
The Royals have an overwhelmingly positive outlook when it comes to individual players, but in many ways have an equally pessimistic outlook when it comes to theory, structure, and collective potential. It can be seen in how Ned Yost manages not to lose, and how many pitchers drafted as starters become relievers. Nowhere is it more clear than the Royals stead fast belief that you can’t hit home runs in Kauffman Stadium, so you can’t rely on power when building a Royals line-up.
Embarrassment, resentment, and miserly greed all play roles in this organizational philosophy.
The Royals have historically stunk under the Glass family’s watch. It didn’t begin to sting Glass until teams like the Rays started to show that teams can win, and win consistently with a challenged revenue platform. It stung because they were exposed. Their excuses were no longer valid.
The Royals began a much improved re-organization. They created an excellent farm system and invested much more in Latin American scouting. The money-making All-Star game was approaching. That meant money for the coffers, but it also meant more exposure. Consciously or sub consciously, this also played a factor in wanting and needing to make the Royals a more respectable organization.
Plenty of good has resulted in this shift, birthed from embarrassment. The Royals need similar embarrassment regarding their historic lack of slugging. Instead, they are still holding tightly to resentment and greed when it comes to power hitters. Power hitters are popular with fans. Power hitters play on winning baseball teams, and are respected. Power hitters also cost big money. The Royals resent the hell out of the home run game and the money it costs. The Royals have opened up their wallets to improve most of the organization’s facets, but have dug their heels in on this key aspect. They have sold everyone in the organization, including the players, that hitting for power is not an option.
The Royals will not trade for or sign power hitters, and now have players capable of swatting 20 plus home-runs a year thinking they are All Stars while hitting 10-15 a year. The Royals constant no power mantra has impacted players like Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, and Salvador Perez. If those guys were all tracking to hit 20 plus home runs, this would be a division winning team.
It’s not logical to expect the power hitting light to turn on for the current Royals hitters this season. However, the Royals could take a huge step forward for this year’s chances, and the years to come, by trading for a big bat right now. If that means pitching prospects, fine. Dayton Moore has shown the consistent ability to evaluate other team’s starters and make them fit nicely with the Royals.
The time is now for the Royals to let go of past resentments and greed regarding the long ball game. They have come very far, and grown in almost every other way. They won’t keep moving forward if they don’t take this next step.