There’s No Place Like Home

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Photo by Bryce Wood - @woodymlb4

Photo by Bryce Wood – @woodymlb4

After a road trip that started off with a two game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals, the Royals finished up a disappointing 3-5 after visits to Philadelphia and Toronto.  The Royals are an abysmal 16-30 on the road this season.  A road winning percentage of .348 is good for third to last in the MLB behind only the Twins, and Reds. 

To put this in perspective the Atlanta Braves, who are widely considered the worst team in baseball, actually have a better road winning percentage than the Royals.  Yet at home the Royals are polar opposites posting the fewest home loses of any team with a record of 27-11.  Even the world beater Cubs have lost 13 games at home.  So what is it that makes us such a different team from home to road?

The first is the most obvious, the offense is terrible on the road.  The Royals have a team batting average of .271.  Not bad, but if you take them out of Kauffman Stadium that average drops to .254.   This means the Royals go from the 3rd best offense in the MLB to a tie for 15th.  You would think that would still be good enough for more than a win every 3 days on the road, so what else is going on?  Probably the most telling offensive stat is the fact the Royals have only scored 146 runs this season on the road. 

That is good for one spot from the bottom. 

Even the lowly Twins have managed to score over 150 runs.  Interestingly, however, the Royals are not last in home runs on the road; they are still bottom third in 23rd place with 42.  This would suggest, however, that it is clutch hitting that we are lacking.  If you need any evidence of this I will ask you to recall Wednesday's game.  After Alcides Escobar tripled with no outs, the Royals were promptly retired, and Esky couldn't get to home plate.  When an out scores a run, and the our lead off hitter rolls over for the third straight time in the game to a drawn in second baseman, your team isn't going to win many games.  But that can't be all.

Royals Pitching may also have a roll in this debacle. The Royals are currently pitching a team ERA of 4.43 away from the K.  Overall 4.19 ERA, a mark good enough for 13th in the MLB.  A difference of 1/3 of a run a game is actually expected away from your home ballpark, especially one as friendly as the K.  So that doesn't really seem to be the cause. 

After some exhausted thinking, I decided to see how many home runs the Royals have given up on the road this year.  You may be shocked to know the Royals are not the worst at giving up the long ball on the road.  In fact, they have given up 5 fewer than the first place team (the Reds).  

With 69 homers allowed on the road, the Royals are 2nd worst in the MLB; however, the next closest American League team is Oakland with TEN fewer.  This discrepancy can lead to some deflating away series, and explain why we tend to lose more of those games.  For perspective, the Royals have only given up 43 bombs at home, good for 9th best.  I know what you are saying– that is because the ball doesn't fly in Kauffman.  Well, two other NOTORIOUSLY pitcher friendly ballparks are Safeco Field in Seattle, and Petco Park in San Diego.  Those two parks have not been so favorable to the home team, allowing the 9th and 14th most big flies respectively.  But it does beg a point.

Maybe it is the mold this team was built around; a mold that works really well when it is firing on all cylinders, but one we are seeing sputter this year. General Manager Dayton Moore has been known to build a team around good defense, hitting at a high rate of contact, a lights out bullpen, and pitching to contact.  A team like that, we have seen, can win in any environment. 

As of last night, half of the Opening Day line-up were unavailable to play.  Add in two key pitchers to that list, and you can say that this team is not exactly the team GMDM and Ned Yost built.  It is pieces mixed with some fill-ins.  And much like a brick house, you would hope they replace the broken bricks with bricks, but sometimes you run out of bricks.  And as we can see with the starting pitching and offense, the Royals may be all out of bricks.  At best we have some heavy duty foam that we sprayed in there.  It works a for a while, but eventually it will breaks down.

So we have helped to solve the mystery of why this team is so bad on the Road, but why are they so good at home?  I would offer up two explanations.  The first, we played a lot more road games lately, and the impact of injuries are starting to be more apparent.  So that is one reason.  The second is something you just gotta believe. I have no numbers or baseball-reference sites I can check on this, but it is the magic of the K.  Why did we win that Wild-Card Game, or Game 1 of the '15 World Series, or Game 6 of the '85?  The K brings out the best in these guys.  They love playing in front of the home crowd, and seem to step up their game!  I think it really is that simple.  It's the same team that plays here as on the road.  It's just the atmosphere that is a little different. 

So thank goodness we are back home, after all there is no place like it!

 

Photo by Bryce Wood – @woodymlb4

 

 

 

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