Numbers dont lie: Royals annual lack of power = the K’s misconception as a “tough” HR park

The KC Star’s Sam Mellinger did a piece last week indicating that Kauffman Stadium is a hitters park despite its reputation as a pitcher friendly park.

I continued to insist that its size may make it a hitter friendly park, but it was near the bottom in yielding homeruns. I looked earlier this season when arguing with my friend Tim, who said it was because the Royals just don’t hit any, so it skews the number. What I found was Kauffman Stadium over the last 10 seasons finished near the bottom of the AL and only once outside of the lower third in MLB in HR’s allowed.

At the time, that was sufficient research for me.

I also stated there is a reason we hit more on the road than at home every year (more on this below) and it is because our park. But, I started thinking about it again today, and after more extensive research, I may be wrong about how tough it is to hit HR’s at the K, and it is in fact, its a misconception.

One reason this is the case is there is no cheap place in the park to get HR’s. Only seven AL stadiums are bigger down the left-field line (330); six are smaller. Only four are bigger to the gaps (387); 10 are smaller. Three are bigger to center (410); nine are smaller. Yankee Stadium may be 399 feet to left-center, but just 318 down the left-field line and 314 down right.  Minute Maid Park in Houston is 435 to center field, but 315 down the left-field line and 362 to left-center.

Prior to the 1995 season, the outfield fences in the gaps and in straight-away center field were moved in 10 feet, but were moved back before the 2004 season to their original dimensions, respectively, making Kauffman Stadium one of the most spacious parks in baseball.

Yet, after looking at the numbers, yes the K is below league average, but if the Royals would actually hit some HR’s, it would be closer to league average instead of spending year after year near the bottom of the league in HR’s allowed. I used to think it was more a park effect than it was the Royals lack of power, but the numbers have changed my mind. It is, in fact, the exact opposite.

Yes, the Royals have hit more HR on the road in nine of the 10 seasons since 2004 (counting this one) and more than half of the year’s have been substantial.

We all know about the lack of power this year, where they have been out-homered 62-28, are second to last in MLB (last in AL) – 29-11 at home – have hit just three HR the last 15 games (two by Miguel Tejada) – the same amount the Cardinals hit tonight in just six innings and the same number the Cubs PITCHERS have hit in the same span. Absolutely brutal. The futility in HR hitting could go on and on, such as starting pitcher Erwin Santana (3-5) three homers allowed tonight is one more than the Royals have hit in their last 119 innings, etc.

But what about the rest of the year’s dating back to 2004?

Year HR  Average AL Rank MLB Rank HRAllowed Average AL Rank MLB Rank Per Game AL Rank MLB Rank
2004 56 90 14 30 90 91 9 16 1.8
2005 51 85 14 29 80 83 8 16 1.65
2006 65 90 14 29 102 90 3 6 2.06 10 21
2007 49 84 13 28 79 81 8 16 1.67 12 24
2008 50 83 14 29 73 80 8 22 1.52 12 27
2009 65 87 14 27 69 81 12 23 1.65 14 25
2010 60 78 11 26 82 75 4 8 1.75 9 18
2011 53 77 12 22 68 75 12 18 1.49 13 25
2012 62 83 13 25 87 82 8 15 1.84 12 20
2013 11 25 15 29 29 26 8 11 1.74 13 22

As you can see, the Royals have finished last in the AL in homeruns hit at home six times (last in MLB once), second to last twice (second to last in MLB four times) skewing the numbers of HR’s allowed at home (average of 8th toughest in AL, right at average in MLB) and as a result the park finishes, on average, 23rd in the bigs in HR’s allowed, making it one of the tougher park to hit homers in, on the surface, every year.

As mentioned earlier, another indication on how tough a park is to hit HR’s in is how many that said team, in this case the Royals, hit away from home in comparison to home.

Away Home Total Rank
2004 94 56 150 22
2005 75 51 126 29
2006 59 65 124 30
2007 53 49 102 30
2008 70 50 120 27
2009 79 65 144 24
2010 61 60 121 26
2011 76 53 129 21
2012 69 62 131 26
2013 17 11 28 29

As you can see, the home/road HR splits are noticeable. So are the Royals season totals, finishing no better than 21st in the majors in HR’s and dead last twice with an average finish of 26th.

What does this tell me?

The K is not a HR park, but it would be close to the middle if the Royals weren’t so dreadfully bad at hitting bombs. During this span, the Royals have been trying to develop power hitters from the system, and, it is obviously not working. Four times in this 10-season stretch, the Royals season total could be doubled and would STILL be less than the league leader.

Sadly, the Royals future is dependent on projected-to-be power hittering corner infielders Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. Currently the duo has five HR. The Royals need them to combine for 10 times that amount. They have each done it for a season (kind of) with Hosmer hitting 19 in 2011 and Moustakas hitting 20 last year, so the capability is there.

Will the duo ever project out to be what the Royals need them to be/what they are supposed to be? Will they ever pan out, at all? Why do all of the Royals “can’t miss” prospect hitters – who are studs in the minors – miss? All of these are stories for another day, but will the Royals ever say screw it and go out and get a power hitter that they desperately need? I mean a true masher? Sadly, the answer is also no. The Royals only chances of doing so would have been sometime this season before the deadline. If they were in the race, they could have been a buyer instead of a seller.

Wouldn’t Mike Stanton look GREAT playing RF (Frenchy gone; a true cleanup hitter under control through 2017)? Three top prospects ought to do it.

But now, that is nothing but a fantasy.

In short, HIT SOME GOD DAMN HR’s! It’s amazing how different a game can be with the long ball. It’s a huge part of the game, and its something the Royals have not been able to do in a long time.

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