It has been borderline ridiculous as to how often the Kansas City Royals have been getting hit by opposing pitchers. Heading into last night’s game, the Royals have been plunked twelve times in seven games, and are on pace to be hit an incredible 277 times this season. That is enough to make even Don Baylor, Craig Biggio and Hughie Jenkins reach for a bottle of aspirin and an icepack.
Leading the hit parade are Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon, each of whom have been hit four times. Alex Rios was hit by a pitch, and it fractured a bone in his left hand, which is expected to sideline him for three to six weeks. In contrast, the Royals pitchers have hit all of two batters this season. Obviously, these hit batsmen that the Royals are receiving are not a response to any liberties taken by the pitching staff.
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As wonderful as these free baserunners have been, there comes a time when, quite simply, enough is enough. With Rios being injured and sidelined for the next three to six weeks, it would seem as though the situation would have reached it’s critical mass. Something needs to be done. The question is, what, exactly, can the Royals do?
The obvious response would be to drill another player back. If the Twins want to drill Rios, Brian Dozier can get a fastball in the ribs. However, does this eye for an eye approach work? Now the Twins, in this hypothetical situation, would get a free baserunner of their own, and the potential to score a run or two.
Does the threat of retaliation work? Would having someone like Yordano Ventura, he of the 100+ MPH fastball, fire one over the head of an opposing batter work to say that, if any more Royals get hit, we do the same, be a proper response? This action would likely lead to warnings for both sides, but it also carries the danger that, if a pitch accidentally gets away and hits someone, that the pitcher’s night would be done without cause.
In fact, the best response that the Kansas City Royals could have would be to continue winning games. Even with this nonsense where they keep getting hit, the Royals have blocked out the irritation and been on a tremendous run to start the season. The bats have truly come to life, and if the opposition wants to give the Royals more baserunners, so be it. It is just an additional run that will be scoring shortly.
The Royals are going to have a figurative target on their backs, or legs or wrists this season. As the defending American League Champions (that still feels great to type) other teams will be using the Royals as a measuring stick. They want to prove they can beat these upstarts, winning in their unconventional ways. And yet, the Royals just keep moving along.
It may be very frustrating that the Royals keep getting hit with this type of frequency, but the best response is to do what they already have been doing – just keep winning.