After being ten games below .500 at one point, the Kansas City Royals made it to the .500 mark early this week before losing two in a row to the Cleveland Indians, falling to a 34-36 record.
After the debacle of May, it’s good the see the Royals playing better baseball. But they’re not playing good enough to contend for the A. L. Central, much less be a playoff contending team. Losing two out of three games to the Indians proves that. The team batting average is .257, which is only point better than last week. They’re also dead last in the A. L. with 37 home runs and a .368 slugging average, so the power isn’t there.
While first baseman Eric Hosmer shows improvement with a revised swing, third baseman Mike Moustakas is stuck with a .189 batting average and calls from some fans to send him down to the Minors and move Alex Gordon to third. Sending Moustakas to the Minors might help, but moving Gordon to third is a bad idea. Remember one of the reasons the Royals moved Gordon to the outfield? It’s because he wasn’t that good at third base.
And then there’s the Jarrod Dyson coming back from the DL problem. Dyson isn’t the problem. Outfielder Jeff Francoeur is the problem. Francoeur is at .214/.257/.335 and spends more time on the bench while David Lough patrols the outfield. Lough was called up when Dyson went on the DL, and Lough has done well with a .296/.310/.418 line and made a couple of spectacular defensive plays. He’s proven to be at least a league average outfielder and better than Francoeur is now. Which means Lough will likely be sent down to the Minors when Dyson returns.
Yes, it doesn’t make sense, but sometimes the realities of baseball doesn’t make sense. Dyson doesn’t have options remaining, so if the Royals don’t add Dyson to the major league roster, they have to trade, option or release him, which the Royals won’t do. However, Lough does have options remaining and the Royals can send him back to Omaha with no restrictions.
The Royals could release Francoeur and eat his remaining $4 million salary, but it’s unlikely the team would do that either, seeing they still believe Francoeur will come out of his hitting slump. The likely scenario when Dyson returns is to start him in the outfield, have Francoeur on the bench and send Lough to Omaha. It’s not the fair decision or frankly the most logical decision. But if Francoeur doesn’t show improvement, the club will have no choice but to cut him loose and call Lough up as a Royals outfielder, which could happen sooner rather than later.
Next is Chris Getz, the Jeff Francoeur of the infield. Getz has a .216/.278/.288 average and platoons with Elliot Johnson, who has a better .252/.284/.342 average. But is Johnson an everyday second baseman? Seeing Johnson appeared in 47 games and Getz in 46 games, the Royals don’t think so. Second basemen aren’t known for their power like first or third basemen, but if a team isn’t getting much production from the corners, then the second baseman has to pick up the slack. That’s not happening with Getz and it’s uncertain if it would happen if Johnson was an everyday player.
Then the usual offensive stalwarts, Alex Gordon and Billy Butler, are having “down” years. Gordon is at .288/.344/.416 and Butler at .273/.379/.399. They’re not bad numbers, but the Royals need to find offense where they can get it.
The Royals did a good job improving their starting rotation and despite some rough outings from the bullpen, the ‘pen is holding its own. The Royals pitching staff leads the A. L. with a 3.41 ERA and has kept the team from falling into oblivion. But the hoped for production from the lineup hasn’t been consistent. If the offense doesn’t improve, it could be another Royals season like it’s been the last ten to twenty years.