Apr 17, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer (35) drives in a run with a fielders choice during the first inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
There are worse things one could be than average. While being average means that one is not stellar at anything, it is a lot better than being terrible. Unfortunately, in baseball, being average means 81 wins over the season and typically not having a chance at the postseason. Right now, as the Kansas City Royals sit at the off day, they are decidedly average.
The thing is, it appears as though things should be different. The Royals starting rotation, even with the Bruce Chen Experience, has the fifth best ERA in baseball. As a whole, the Royals pitching staff has given up 22 fewer runs than the typical major league team. If the Royals offense was, at minimum, average, then they would seemingly be in excellent shape.
Unfortunately, mediocrity would be a step up for the Royals offense. While the Royals are at, or close to, the average for hits, doubles and triples, they have somehow managed to score fourteen fewer runs than the median. This would seemingly be due to their astonishing lack of power – the Royals have, as a team, 13 fewer home runs than the average squad. Turn a couple of singles into home runs, and the Royals may find themselves in a different situation.
Instead, the Royals stellar pitching this season has been held back by their subpar offense. While hardly anyone expected the Royals to be hitting the ball into the center field fountains with regularity, they were certainly expected to have more than ten home runs 24 games into the season. Omar Infante was not expected to be second on the team in home runs heading into the final week of April. Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer were both expected to have hit at least one homer by this point. Likewise, the Royals plan on getting on base and putting pressure on the offense was expected to produce more than the third fewest runs in baseball.
Sadly, the offense should not be this bad. When the offense works, it works well – especially given the Royals 12-0 record when scoring four or more runs a game. Yet, the opposite is true as well, since the Royals have yet to win a game when they score under four runs. With the average amount of runs scored per game being just a shade over four, even a slightly below average offense would likely put the Royals on top of their division at this point.
The Royals, however, do not have that. Despite their excellent pitching, they are hanging around .500 on the season. While that may have been enough to excite the fan base in years past, being average is not good enough any longer. The Royals came into the season with playoff aspirations. Nothing less will be sufficient.
A subpar offense and an excellent pitching staff have brought the Royals to a .500 record at this point. Right now, that makes the Royals average, which is not what anyone wants them to be.