The Royals have not won since last Friday night against the Cardinals. That game the Royals showed patience and poise against a Cy Young winner in Chris Carpenter and eventually were able to scratch enough runs to win the ball game. After analyzing the box scores and scorecards from the rest of the week’s games, the reasons for the Royals current losing streak all comes down to certain fundamentals that for some reason or another they are failing to execute on the field.
Editor’s note: Due to the late, extra-inning game the team played on Friday night and the deadline for article submission, this article was written prior to the Royals clawed out a win against Texas in 14 innings.
At the plate during the first 5-6 weeks of the season, the Royals showed remarkable patience and selection. This resulted in having a handful of starters batting above .300, some near the .330 mark or better (now there is only one starter hitting above .300). They waited for their pitch and tried to put into play. This past week they have not, while their opponents have seemed to battle through and find ways to get on base. In the past week, the Royals struck out thirty-five times vs. their opponents thirty-one times. This may not seem like much but some of these strikeouts have occurred when they had runners in scoring position. They Royals batted an anemic ten for forty-five with runners in scoring position, which left a small village of base runners nearly every single game.
This lack of patience has also left the Royals with fewer opportunities to score due to having only working their opponents to issuing twelve walks while their opponents’ batters were able to coax out twenty-seven walks (including thirteen in one game against the Cardinals). The Royals defense can stop the ball and get people out. However, they are going to have a tough time this summer if their pitchers cannot locate the strike zone on a consistent basis. Is this a sign of the Royals young pitching staff unraveling due to the pressure of the majors (which can be fixed with time and tutelage from the veterans and coaches)? Or, is this a sign that the Royals just outplayed their potential for the first six weeks and now every other team has them scouted down to a ‘T’?
Baseball is a game of many things and one of those is patience. The stereotype for many young players in this league is that they are not patient. They are not patient at the plate, they are not patient when the team is not winning and they end up trying so hard that they frustrate themselves into a complete slump in their game. I am all for playing hard and being ready before every single pitch but the greatest players who have ever played this game eventually figured out how to be patient enough and willing to make needed adjustments in order to make them better players.
These changes did not happen over night. George Brett did not all of a sudden become a feared hitter at the plate. Albert Pujols did not become a superstar with the wave of Tony Larussa’s magic wand. The only way to learn patience is to continue on your course (keep on keeping on) regardless of the passage of time. Eventually these young guys will learn patience and grow into a solid team. Remember, Rome was not built in a day, and we should not expect these young players to become perennial pennant chasing veterans overnight. We should expect them to compete and stay the course that Ned Yost and his staff have laid, and eventually they will reap the benefits.