Kansas City Royals: Comparing 2015 Team To 2014 Pennant Winner
By John Viril
Sep 24, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain (6) drives in two runs with a single against the Seattle Mariners in the sixth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
The 2015 Kansas City Royals offense is better in almost every way than their 2014 predecessors. In 2015 the KC Royals scored 724 runs (6th in the American League) versus 651 in 2014 (9th in the American League).
The 2015 Kansas City Royals recorded more doubles (300), triples (42), home runs (139), and enjoyed a higher on-base-percentage (.322) than the 2014 American League Champions. The 2014 club had 286 doubles, 29 triples, 95 home runs, and a .314 OBP. The 2015 KC Royals also posted a lower strikeout rate (15.9% vs. 16.3%) and a higher batting average (.269 vs. .263). The two teams had identical 6.3% walk rates. But. with the deadline acquisition of Ben Zobrist, you have to think the 2015 Kansas City Royals will be better at drawing walks than their 2014 predecessors.
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The only major offensive category that the 2014 team exceeded the 2015 Central Division Champions is in stolen bases. The 2014 Kansas City Royals swiped 155 bases (first in the American League) versus 104 in 2015 (second in the American League).
However, you must temper this comparison by recognizing that the American League enjoyed a more liberal run-scoring environment in 2015. The average A.L. team scored 710 runs in 2015, while league average was only 677 in 2014. The American League average OPS in 2015 is .730 compared to .706 in 2014.
The 2014 KC Royals succeeded despite a lineup hole at second base (Omar Infante), and no true cleanup hitter with designated Billy Butler‘s collapse. The weakest bat in the 2015 lineup is right fielder Alex Rios, who did manage to post a decent .267/.302/.400 slash line in the second half for a .702 OPS. In 2015, Kendrys Morales enjoyed an outstanding season while batting cleanup, slashing .290/.362/.485 with 22 home runs and 106 RBIs after taking over for Billy Butler at designated hitter.
However, the biggest offensive difference might be that first baseman Eric Hosmer and third basemen Mike Moustakas established themselves as mature, middle-of-the-order bats in 2015 rather than the struggling prospects they were in 2014. Lorenzo Cain was good in 2014 on offense. In 2015, Lorenzo Cain is an all-around force that added pop to his bat (16 home runs). Add in mid-season acquisition Ben Zobrist taking over at second for the injured Omar Infante, and the 2015 Kansas City Royals sport a more production—with better balance (two switch hitters in Zobrist and Morales)—than the 2014 team.
Next: 2015 Defense vs. 2014 Defense