The Royals have been described as a streaky team and a second-half team at different times, and at least one of these statements is true. The Royals are streaky. From June 6th to June 17th, the Royals won 10 straight games. Immediately following that amazing streak, the Royals have gone 9-19 (losing 7 of the last 9), falling back into the same funk they were in throughout the first two months of the season.
The reason for the winning streak, arguably, was the change in hitting coaches from Pedro Grifol to Dale Sveum. Now, as the Royals find themselves hitting abysmally again and slipping further out of contention, it is time for some sort of change to catalyze a new streak, which is about the only shot KC has at seeing even a single game of postseason baseball this year.
One place to look at the difference in the Royals’ season this year is team batting stats. The Royals’ split line on the year is .264/.315/.376. This line ranks the Royals 3rd in team batting average in the AL, but near the bottom in both OBP and SLG. Thus, the Boys in Blue have hit singles all day, but they have not gotten on base nor hit for power on the season. The exception to this is the 10-game winning streak. Over those then games, the Royals’ split line was .327/.379/.501 with 13 of the team’s 55 homers coming during this span. In short, the Royals were on fire during the streak, but outside of those glorious ten games, they have been nothing short of miserable at the plate.
“I don’t blame the players. I don’t blame coaches. I don’t blame managers. I don’t blame ownership. I look at myself, and what I can do, and what we can do as a baseball operations department to improve our team.” –Dayton Moore
If the reason for the hot streak were the change in hitting coaches, it is no longer working. The Royals’ line has regressed to .267/.313/.381 since the streak ended on June 19th. It seems that either this is who the Royals are or they need some sort of change to work as a catalyst, propelling them back into the ball club that won 10 straight. Dale Sveum is clearly not having the intended effect on the team right now, and Ned Yost is likely just as much at fault.
Despite this, Dayton Moore blames himself. Though honorable, Moore blaming himself does not resolve any of the glaring issues with this team. The hitting philosophy employed by the Royals has been very ineffective indeed, and the type of baseball the Royals are currently playing will never lead them to a postseason berth.
There are certainly possible changes the Royals could make at this point, but the longer they wait, the less likely impact any change will have. The Royals could trade for a bigger bat for one. They have shown interest in Alex Rios and Marlon Byrd, but even if they could land one of them, the trade is no guarantee of the change the team needs to see.Another possibility is a change very similar to the one the Brewers made before their first postseason appearance since 1982: part ways with Ned Yost. Yost’s job may be safe, according to Moore, but Yost is stifling the Royals, and a change at the helm, coupled with an upgrade in hitting, could be exactly what the Boys in Blue need to spring back to life and save this season.