The rebuilding 2019 Kansas City Royals are far from the level of the 2015 Champions. How different are the teams, though, when broken down further?
The 2019 regular season for the Kansas City Royals came with another year of disappointment and another year of 100 plus losses. There were some positives, though, that the Royals were able to provide. Jorge Soler having a record year in home runs, Whit Merrifield leading the league in hits, and Hunter Dozier and Adalberto Mondesi making great strides as players are all things that Royals fans can look forward to.
While there were some positives, a second year of over 100 losses may keep many fans wondering when the Royals will be able to contend again. Just looking at the team records when compared with the 2015 World Series Champions, one may feel that the Royals are very far off. Some statistics may tell a different story though.
There are many different ways to track baseball stats now, but for this article, basic stats will be used like batting average, walks, and strikeouts for offense and in the next article, ERA, hits and walks for pitching. As fun as calculus is, doing equations to determine the production value of a team is not always the easiest and sometimes, the basic stats can be very telling.
2015 – BA: .269, OBP: .322, SLG: .412, OPS: .734
2019 – BA: .247, OBP: .309, SLG: .401, OPS: .710
Upon first look, it’s obvious the batting average of the two clubs is very different. The easiest way to break down the batting average is that the 2015 batting average is above league average, while the 2019 batting average is below. This is an obvious sign of the difference between these two clubs, and why the Royals of 2015 had more success.
A closer look should be taken, though, at the OBP, SLG, and the OPS. In looking at all of the figures together, one might be able to see that the Royals are not far off from the 2015 team, at least in terms of getting on base and slugging for extra bases.
Another thought is how these numbers might be different if Salvador Perez were able to play, and Mondesi was healthy for the entire year. Mondesi provided multiple extra-base hits in the limited games he was able to play and though he lacked plate discipline at times, he was able to find a way on base. Salvy provides some power behind the plate and again finds a way to get on base when needed.
While it is understood that no one player makes up a team and theirs stats, an extra 170-200 games from both of these players combined could have a major impact on some of these numbers and helped to drive them closer and closer to those of the 2015 team.
2015: Runs – 724, Hits – 1497, 2B – 300, 3B – 42, HR – 139, RBI – 689, SB – 104
2019: Runs – 691, Hits – 1356, 2B – 281, 3B – 40. HR – 162, RBI – 655, SB – 117
Here is another section of stats where the difference is not as great as one might have thought. The 2015 Royals scored more runs and had more hits, they also had more plate appearances and at-bats. This can likely be attributed to better discipline at the plate and working through the rotation instead of inducing the out.
In the following stats, though, one can actually find some similarities. A healthy Mondesi likely would have closed the gap a little more on doubles, triples are right there and home runs were blown out of the water. Along with those, the RBI’s are not so far away, and stolen bases are another area where the 2019 club shined.
Tightening up the screws at the plate and filling in the gaps could spring the 2020 Royals forward and help them get the offense back to the level of the Championship team. There was a serious lack of help from 1st base this year, and finding an option that can help offensively will only help these numbers continue to rise.
2015: Walks – 383, Strikeouts – 973
2019: Walks – 456, Strikeouts – 1405.
Here is where the offense shows a significant difference. At first glance, the walks speak well for the ability of the 2019 offense. The case could be made, also, that there were many instances where 2019 Royals batters showed great discipline at the plate, but there are other times that the discipline went out the window.
The 2019 Royals struck out 432 more times than the 2015 club. If there is something the Royals should work on over the offseason, it is discipline and patience. Wait for your pitch, and don’t just swing at everything. As the year went on, some players showed improvement at the plate, such as Soler, but the team overall has a serious problem that must be fixed if they want to contend.
In looking at the stats as a whole, the 2019 Royals might be on a better track offensively than many may have thought. While there are some obvious differences between the 2015 and 2019 teams, the offensive numbers are much closer than one could imagine for a club that won a World Series and one that lost 103 games.
The fact remains that there are some obvious flaws the Royals must address offensively. Most important would be the plate discipline and patience. Reducing the number of strikeouts will greatly help the Royals get on base and in scoring position. Also, focusing on positions where they lacked, such as first base, will really help to drive the offensive number upward if they can find consistent players that produce.
The question remains if the offense produced decent numbers this year, where did the team struggle the most. The next article will focus on a comparison of the pitching between the two teams and where the 2019 team has really fallen short in the rebuild.