Posted on 18 April 2013.
Fourteen games in, the Royals are 8-6 and only a half a game out of first in the A.L. Central. Overall, the team is playing well, but so far they’ve given up 18 home runs, which is fourth in the A.L. and 6th in the Majors. Meanwhile, they’ve hit just five home runs, which is last in the A.L. and 29th in the Majors, just ahead of the woeful Miami Marlins with only three team home runs.
Of the 18 home runs given up, the starting rotation gave up 13, with Jeremy Guthrie (5 HR) and Ervin Santana (4 HR) being the top offenders. The bullpen gave up five homers, with Kelvin Herrera giving up three of them, all in one inning of Tuesday night’s game against the Atlanta Braves.
Of the 18 homers given up, 15 are solo shots, two are two-run homers and one is a three-run homer. In the games the Royals didn’t give up a home run, they’re 4-2. In games where they only gave up solo shots, they’re 3-2. In multi-run homer games, they’re 1-2. What’s interesting are the games where the opposing team hit multiple solo home runs in a game. In those games, the Royals are 2-1.
So why is the Royals pitching staff giving up so many home runs? For Guthrie, it appears he throws a bad pitch once in a while and hitters take advantage of it. So far, he’s 2-0 with a 3.20 ERA with 17 strikeouts and three walks, giving him a 5.67 SO/BB ratio.
Over his career, Santana has a tendency to give up homers and he’s keeping true to form. But he’s got a 2.45 ERA and he’s struck out 19 batters while walking five, giving him a 3.80 SO/BB ratio.
As for Kelvin Herrera’s three homers he gave up, the Royals think he tipped his pitches when he gave up his three home runs against Atlanta. Herrera is a fireball pitcher and they tend to give up home runs.
While the Royals are giving up a lot of home runs this season, how does it compare to last season? In the first 14 games of 2012, the Royals gave up 14 home runs, seven of which were solo shots, six were two-run homers and one was a three-run homer. When they didn’t give up any home runs, they went 2-5. When they only gave up solo homers in a game, they were 1-1. When they gave up a multi-run homer, they were 0-5. Meanwhile, the Royals hit 12 home runs, seven more than this year. But after 14 games, they were 3-11 and in the middle of their 12-game losing streak. Compared to this year, the 2012 Royals gave up more multi-run homers, their team ERA was 4.66, they struck out 105 batters and walked 51, which gave them a 2.06 SO/BB ratio.
The 2013 Royals team ERA is 3.30, which is third in the A.L and fifth in the Majors. They have 122 strikeouts, which is third in the A.L. and fourth in the Majors. The Royals gave up 33 walks, which is second best in the A.L. and fourth best in the Majors. This gives the Royals an impressive team 3.70 SO/BB ratio. Yes, the Royals pitching staff gives up home runs, but otherwise they’re pitching well.
But how long can the Royals pitching staff keep up their low ERA and SO/BB ratio? So far, the Royals are lucky, mainly giving up solo home runs. But they can’t run on luck all season. If they start walking more batters and throwing less strikeouts, more runners will get on base, which increases the chance of multi-run homers. Pitching coach Dave Eiland needs to work with the pitching staff and cut down on the home runs. Meanwhile, hitting coaches Jack Maloof and Andre David need to get the offense hitting more home runs. If this doesn’t happen, the 2013 season could end up being like the 2012 season.