As the offense goes, so do the Royals.
The Royals had the second-best rotation ERA through the month of April, but it didn’t matter, thanks to miserable offense (ranking last in runs (2.7), and hitting (.210/.270/.336) and OPS .605), scoring 63 runs in their first 23 games tied for a franchise record (worst). They ended the month on a 9-game losing streak, dropping them to 7-16. Seven games later, they were at their low mark of the season, 10-20. The offense since, has improved. Not a coincidence that they’re 20-14 in the 34 games that followed, despite the starting pitching taking a step back (but the bullpen has improved), bringing them to four games below .500 for the first time since 7-11 – four games into the 9-game losing streak. In those 34 games, they’ve scored 170 runs, or 5 per game – nearly double what they were producing through the first 30 games (2.7). The Royals are in the midst of their best offensive stretch of the season. Yesterday, they missed scoring at least eight runs in a game for the fourth straight game for the first in 18 years. The win was their fourth win in a row, matching a season-high (third time). The 16 hits matched a season-high. The 15 hits the night before, was a season-high. It coincides with everyone in the order hitting at the same time – something that hasn’t happened all season.
What has spearheaded the offensive resurgence? Is it as simple as everyone hitting at the same time? Is it an offense that wasn’t as bad as the numbers, waking up? Is it the power of the DONG?
Let’s take a look.
First 30 games: .208/.270/.329/.600 (last/last/last/last), 27 HR (29th (of 30)), 2.7 runs per game (last), 230 K (6th best), 78 BB (27th)
Since (34 Games): .273/.323/.457/.780 (6th/21st/6th/9th), 50 HR (10th), 5.0 runs (10th), 254 K (26th), 90 walks (last)
A few takeaways here:
- The sixth best OPS despite having a bottom third OBP is…impressive – that’s some SERIOUS slug.
- The Royals had 27 HR (0.9 per game) in the first 30 games, but only four that weren’t solo jobs. The HR rate (1.5 per game) has increased, but there’s also more guys on base now (9.5 hits per game, 2.5 walks per game) than before (6.8 H, 2.6 BB) so, the DONGS are producing more runs.
- The Royals have returned to their approach at the plate from the Golden Age – not striking out, and not walking; putting the ball in play. But, with more HR – amazingly in the Top 10.
- The Royals went from EASILY the worst offense in baseball in the first 30 games to a Top 10 offense, since. Quite the turnaround.
Despite the offensive surge, the Royals still rank in the bottom third to fourth of the league in all the categories .243/.299/.400/.698 (22nd/28th/25th/28th), 77 HR (20th), 3.9 runs (28th), 163 walks (last), other than strikeouts (484), where they rank fourth (fewest) – thanks to the horrific April/first 30 games.
With three more trips to DONGTOWN yesterday, the Royals have now hit 13 so far on this 5-game road trip. That’s good for 77 in 64 games (1.2 per), good for a pace of 195, which would shatter the franchise record (168), and just three off our prediction of 198 (http://kcsportsnation.com/2017/04/projecting-the-2017-kansas-city-royals/):
“Oh, and we project this team to make 198 trips to DONG TOWN this year, which will easily shatter the team homerun record by 32. So, there’s that. May be safe to take the under on that…”
Or, maybe not.
As for individual players (regulars)…it’s an astounding:
Through May 7 (first 30 games): .193/.254/.333/.587, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 4 BB, 11 K (only played in 15 games)
Since (33 games): .339/.377/.529/.906, 4 HR, 19 RBI, 7 BB, 13 K (19-game hitting streak
Through May 7 (debuted 4/21): .239/.300/.370/.670, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 4 BB, 14 K
Since (31 games): .278/.342/.528/.869, 7 HR, 19 RBI, 10 BB, 32 K
Through May 7 (29 games): .269/.387/.375/.762, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 19 BB, 20 K
Since (33 games): .275/.319/.466/.785, 6 HR, 16 RBI, 9 BB, 26 K
*Royals are not running as much since they’re hitting the ball, as Cain hasn’t stolen a base in 23 games after once leading the lead with 12; and now that he is slugging the ball, he is swinging and missing and not walking.
Through May 7 (30 games): .268/.331/.384/.715, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 11 BB, 17 K
Since (34 games): .353/.393/.537/.930, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 9 BB, 26 K
Through May 7 (28 games): .245/.268/.462/.730, 6 HR, 15 RBI, 4 BB, 21 K
Since (31 games): .307/.350/.544/.893, 7 HR, 20 RBI, 6 BB, 19 K
Through May 7 (28 games): .250/.283/.491/.774, 7 HR, 12 RBI, 5 BB, 23 K
Since (30 games): .303/.346/.631/.977, 11 HR, 28 RBI, 9 BB, 18 K
Through May 7 (22 games): .153/.244/.319/.593, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 9 BB, 28 K
Since (21 games): .209/.254/.493/.746, 5 HR, 8 RBI, 4 BB, 26 K
Through May 7 (30 games): .183/.220/.250/.470, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 4 BB, 21 K
Since (34 games): .200/.213/.255, 1 HR, 13 RBI, 2 BB, 34 K
Through May 7 (29 games): .171/.269/.219, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 10 BB, 23 L
Since (28 games): .200/.339/.300/.639, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 17 BB, 4 HBP, 19 K
As you can see, every single player has been better, overall, at the plate. FIVE players have an .OPS over .869; every player has more HR and RBI (granted, in a couple more games, except Brandon Moss) minus Eric Hosmer (1 more HR, same amount of RBI; but best AVG since May 7) and Alex Gordon (6 RBI in each split) and a better slashline. Even seldom-used Cheslor Cuthbert (.143/.189/.257/.446, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 BB 10 K over his first 13 games, compared to .268/.268/.341/.610, 0 HR, 9 RBI, ZERO walks, 9 K since [8 starts]), and Drew Butera (/150/.150/.200/.350, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 BB, 5 K through his first 10 games [6 starts]; .306/.324/.472/.797, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 1 BB, 7 K since [16 games/9 starts]) have improved.
God-awful Alcides Escobar and Alex Gordon, who are still “bad” at .200 over the last 34-game split (although Gordon has a .339 OBP with a positive walk/HBP to K rate, while Esky has a .213 OBP, and a horrendous K rate), have improved (how could they not?).
The Royals are slowly digging out of their huge hole they dug at the plate to start the season. But, if they continue doing what they have done over the last month, they’ll even out to near middle of the pack – and likely higher in HR, and that should be enough for them to make up ground in the standings. But, they’ll have to do some damage in the AL Central, where they’re 10-19.
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