If you are a fan of the long ball, the Kansas City Royals may not be the team for you.
Kansas City has 54 home runs as a team this year. This puts them second to last in the MLB, in front of only the Marlins. The Royals are the only team in baseball that doesn’t have a player with 10 or more home runs. Eric Hosmer leads the team with nine homers, including five home runs in the teams’ last eight games. Alex Gordon is second on the team with eight home runs.
The Royals have only four players with five or more round-trippers. Billy Butler has six and Mike Moustakas has five. As a point of reference, the Orioles lead the league in homers and have eight players with five or more and four players with 10 or more.
Last year Butler led the team with 29 homers and Moustakas added 20, but both are well off the pace they set in 2012.
Not only does Kansas City struggle to hit home runs, but they also don’t walk and thus they are in the bottom half of the league in runs scored.
With 210 walks on the season, the Royals rank 26th in the majors. Kansas City is 21st in the league with 334 runs scored. They are also in the bottom half of the league in on-base percentage, slugging and OPS.
The strengths of the Royals’ offense are hitting for average and being aggressive in the running game. As a team, Kansas City is hitting .260 on the year and is 4th in the majors with 60 stolen bases.
For the offense to get better, they must get more runners on base, especially via the walk. With more base runners, the Royals can attack on the base paths and have more chances to hit with runners in scoring position.
George Brett, the new Royals hitting coach, needs to stress the importance of drawing walks and having a patient approach. Kansas City has plenty of good hitters, even if hitting home runs is not their strength. With more walks the team should see a spike in runs scored and will give the Royals’ pitchers the run support they’ve been lacking.
The sixth inning of Thursday’s game against the Indians was a good example of the power of drawing a walk. Hosmer and Butler drew back-to-back free passes off of Ubaldo Jimenez and after Moustakas reached on an error, Lorenzo Cain launched a grand slam. It was nice that Cain came up with the big hit, but it was all set up by the lead-off walks.
The Royals took advantage of eight walks in the game and hit three home runs in a 10-7 victory over Cleveland.
More of the same would be nice for Royals fans.