KC Royals: Slow start could lead to coaching change

A long-time assistant to the KC Royals’ skipper is a natural to take over as hitting coach.

After serving as Mike Matheny’s hitting coach with the Cardinals from 2013-2018, John Mabry finds himself in the KC Royals’ organization for a second year. While currently listed as a Major League coach, a case can be made that he could take on a bigger role.

The team has struggled mightily at the plate under current hitting coach Terry Bradshaw. Not producing with the bat or drawing walks is something the club can’t afford.

Despite having pitchers suck up 300-400 plate appearances a year, the Cardinals under Mabry hit roughly 10 points higher than the last few seasons the KC Royals have produced.  Even more alarming is that even without the designated hitter, the Cards could reach base at a rate 15-20 points better than Kansas City.

It’s seemed a bit odd that Matheny hasn’t shaken up his coaching staff. Many times, new managers come with wholesale leadership changes. Perhaps as he enters his second year, we will begin to see Matheny put his thumbprint on the team.

The KC Royals’ offense under Bradshaw has been a drag

The 2020 Royals’ pitching staff produced its best ERA since 2016 but still had a winning percentage of just 43%. This result sits squarely on the offense’s shoulders.

The club under Bradshaw’s tutelage ranked 10th or worse out of 15 American League teams in runs, home runs, on-base percentage, and slugging. Despite great seasons from Whit Merrifield, Hunter Dozier and Jorge Soler in 2019, the team was 10th or worse in runs, hits, doubles, home runs, and walks.

In Mabry’s first three years leading the Cardinal hitters, they were not blessed with a lot of power, never cracking the top-10 in the National League. They were, however, consistently in the top six in on-base percentage, doubles, and hits.

This is what the KC Royals need—the ability to put the ball in play regularly and to draw walks that lead to extra opportunities to score.

With the pitching staff maturing, more highly regarded prospects on the way, and the signing of Mike Minor, the offense needs to pull its weight. A change in leadership—specifically the hitting coach—may be needed to accomplish this.

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If the Royals get off to a slow start at the plate, a switch to John Mabry could happen before the season is over. He has a track record that shows he can get the job done.