Kansas City Royals: Comparing the stats, 2019 to 2015 pitching

KC Royals, Tim Hill (Photo by John Sleezer/Getty Images)
KC Royals, Tim Hill (Photo by John Sleezer/Getty Images) /
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The 2019 Kansas City Royals fell short of the 2015 Championship team. How do the pitching lineups compare, though, when the stats are seen side by side?

The 2019 regular season was another season that many Kansas City Royals fans will likely soon want to forget. For the second year in a row, the Royals lost over 100 games. There were some occasions throughout the season that could be positives for the team, but there were also a lot of negatives.

For hope, many Royals fans should look to the offensive promise that was displayed by the team this year. Jorge Soler had a season for the record books, leading the American League in home runs and breaking the Royals single-season home run record by 10. Whit Merrifield again led the league in hits, and players all around the team had decent offensive showings throughout the year. Even veteran Alex Gordon had a resurgence in offensive production.

In a previous article, the offensive stats of the 2019 and 2015 Royals teams were compared. When looking at the stats side by side, it could be seen that the 2019 Royals were not as far off as one might think from the World Series Champions. While there were some obvious flaws, the numbers were right where you would want a team that is hopefully on the upside of a rebuild.

The question that was left, then, was where the Royals really fell short in 2019. In looking at the numbers for pitching, the answer may be able to be found. There are a lot of stats that could be used to determine the productivity of pitching, but for this comparison, basic stats will be used such as walks and ERA. The idea here is do determine a broad understanding of where the pitching stands, without having to do college-level math to determine actual productivity.

2015: ERA – 3.73

2019: ERA – 5.20

When looking at the ERA of both teams side by side, it’s easy to see the pitchers on the 2019 Kansas City Royals had a slightly higher ERA than that of the 2015 team. Ok, substantially higher ERA. As ERA is a pretty telling number as far as pitching stats go, it’s one can see where some of the 2019 Royals problems came from.

The Royals had some positive pitchers this year, Brad Keller continued to do well in a starting role, while Scott Barlow, Tim Hill, and Ian Kennedy all had impressive years in the bullpen. But overall, The pitching staff had trouble staying in the game.

There were a lot of different pitchers this year in both the rotation and the bullpen. One can only hope the lineups will be more solidified going into the regular season next year. In 2015, the Royals may not have had the best starting lineup in baseball, but they could eat innings, and keep them in the game. A starting pitcher can give up a run or two and allow their team to remain in the game, but for the 2019 Royals, it seemed that once the opposing bats started hitting, they didn’t stop.

Luckily, if the Royals pitchers continue to struggle, they can at least make it as fanny pack salesmen.

2015: Walks – 489

2019: Walks – 582

Walks were a huge problem for the Royals in 2019. That was obvious to anyone who watched their games. Some games were better than others, but oftentimes they were unable to keep runners off the bases. Even pitchers such as Keller struggled in games giving up numerous walks.

The almost 100 extra walks in 2019 speaks to the control issues that this team had. As said above, the 2015 pitchers, while allowing some runs, could usually stop the bleeding and allow the offense to take over. In 2019, the control was nowhere to be found in some games, causing some starters to be taken out early for a bullpen that wasn’t any more reliable.

The Kansas City Royals must continue to work on control if they want to stay out of the 100-loss club in 2020, and cutting down on walks will be a huge help on the road back to competing. Pitchers who give up free bases and then struggle to stop batters from hitting are two key ingredients in losing 100 games year after year.

2015: Hits – 1372, Runs Allowed – 641, Strikeouts – 1160

2019: Hits – 1525, Runs Allowed – 869, Strikeouts – 1230

With these stats, one can round out the pitching basis and see what has been a constant theme through this article, the inability of the 2019 pitching staff to stop teams from scoring. While the defense could come into play on this, if you can’t stop a team from hitting at a high rate, it’s going to be difficult for the defense to make the stop every time.

The number of runs and hits are greatly increased from 2015 to 2019, further proving the idea that the Royals pitchers in 2019 struggled with control. Combating the control issue to an extent is the increase in strikeouts by 70. To be fair, though, it would be tough to say the Royals’ 2015 or 2019 starting rotations were filled with strikeout pitchers.

In 2019, Jakob Junis led the team in strikeouts, hitting 164, and Keller increased his number from prior years mixing up his pitches a bit (which makes one wonder if this wasn’t a downfall to giving up more walks). Many of the strikeouts came from the bullpen though as well, with pitchers like Kennedy striking out 73 in 63 innings and Barlow getting 92 over 70 innings.

The same goes for the Royals of 2015. Yordano Ventura and Edinson Volquez both broke 150 strikeouts, but the bullpen is where a lot of the strikeout production came through. That being said, the 2015 starters were able to hold the game without needing to strike out a large number of batters. The fact that the Kansas City Royals allowed 228 more runs in 2019 negates the 70 extra strikeouts they had compared to 2015.

It’s obvious from looking at the stats above that the Royals must focus on pitching during the offseason. This can come in the form of working on control for pitchers within the organization and bringing in some decent free agent pitchers to help strengthen the rotation.

It doesn’t matter how good the offensive production of the team is — when the pitchers are unable to hold teams to no or only a few runs, it would be hard for any offense to keep up. The Royals have many pitchers that may factor into the future, but adding a few to the mix wouldn’t hurt a thing.

Next. Revisiting the 2015 ALDS Game 5. dark

Pitchers like Keller, Barlow, Kennedy, Hill, and Junis have all shown great potential, but they must continue working to grow and gain control over their pitching. The organization must not lose focus on where their needs are the greatest. While the Kansas City Royals tend to love fast-moving defensive players, it might be time to give those players some pitchers to keep them in the game.

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