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The Royals are back in Kansas City for a 6 game homestand to face the Toronto Blue Jays for 3 games, followed by a 3 game series against the Detroit Tigers.
Thus far this young season, the Royals have been decidedly average, by posting a 12-12 record for the first 24 games of the season. It has become a bit of an inside joke that the only way the Royals can win a game is to score more than 3 runs. When scoring more than 3, they are 12-0. When scoring 3 or less, they are 0-12. A byproduct of having an excellent pitching staff and solid defense being offset by a poor offense.
It is no secret that a number of Royals regulars are struggling to find their way at the plate this year. When looking at OPS alone, the top 2 regulars on the list are Alcides Escobar and Omar Infante. While it is nice to see these two do fairly decent for the season so far, this is not the game plan Kansas City had drawn up prior to the season for scoring runs. Players like Billy Butler (.516 OPS) and Eric Hosmer (.724 OPS) who were expected to be cornerstones in the middle of the lineup continue to be very ordinary if not below average ballplayers with no real signs either is ready to break out.
Billy has begun to hit a little as of late, but being mostly of the single variety and Hosmer continues to be a disappointingly average first baseman. Both have takes steps backwards in a season in which the Royals could not afford any offensive lapses if they hope to contend. With a grand total of zero home runs between them, it is safe to say they had better pick it up if the playoffs are to be in the future of Kansas City.
Mike Moustakas has managed to actually regress, and sports a triple slash of .159/.213/.354. With his recent “outburst” of home runs (4 for the year) it has seemed as though he may actually have figured something out, but with the rest of his numbers still in the dumps, even Adam Dunn is laughing at his lack of production from an average standpoint. It would be one thing if he was mashing the ball with a low batting average yet still finding ways to get on base, but a .213 on base percentage is doing nothing more than hurting this team. With no clear cut options other than Danny Valencia, it is imperative that he find a way to become somewhat productive. It is one thing to underachieve, it is a completely different story to hamper an already bad offensive teams ability to get on base.
Nori Aioki was brought in to be a much needed leadoff man for the Royals with the hopes that having him at the top of the order would lead to more power production from Alex Gordon, but both have proven this to be somewhat false in the early going. Nori has managed to get on base at a .327 clip, and while not completely horrible, when paired with his 16 strikeouts, he is not providing the type of production a team expects from its leadoff man. Gordon being moved to a deeper portion of the order has also not seemed to awaken the power monster within many had predicted either, and he seems to have slipped in getting on base (.317 OBP) while not offsetting it with any sort of power threat. Gordon has managed to do well the few times he comes up with men on base, and is second in team RBI’s with 14 as well as leads the team in doubles with 9.
Salvador Perez started the year like lightning in a bottle, both drawing walks and hitting the ball well, but has entered an extended funk dropping his season totals all the way down to .239/.309/.364. Salvy has shown the ability to break out of these bad stretches in the past but in the early going is nothing more than another statistic showing the ineptitude of the Royals at the plate.
Pedro Grifol was brought in last season in conjunction with George Brett to light a fire under the futile attempts of the Royals offensive machine, and had mixed results in the later parts of last season. Moose and Hosmer both flashed signs they may be ready to break out and perform like the players they were expected to be when they were selected with high draft picks. While it is widely accepted that coaches are often given more credit or criticism than they deserve, Grifol has to be finding a way to alter the approach of this team to put them in the best position to succeed.
While it may still be early in 2014, the returns seem to show what many had long feared. This might simply be a bad offensive team and could very well be the reason Kansas City will not see a playoff game once again this season.
Without a slew of options, the best that fans can hope to see is that they are able to scratch and claw for every run with good base running and timely situational hitting, the latter being an Achilles Heel of the Royals thus far. It seems a stretch to think the ability to score runs may rest on the shoulders of players such as Alcides Escobar, Omar Infante, Jarrod Dyson and Lorenzo Cain, but so far they seem to be the best hope. If they can continue to do what they have thus far and some of the expectations begin to take hold in the middle of the order, it isn’t too much of a stretch that this team may be able to score enough to win more than they lose. It seems to be, however, that the Royals are in for a repeat of 2013 where dominant pitching must be the name of the game or the Royals players will once again be watching instead of playing in October.
Dayton Moore. Say what now? The scapegoat has become the stallion? After breaking down every player that has performed well in the first month of the season, I realized one communal factor: Dayton Moore. I think it is time to give some credit ... Read more