The Royals offense has been on something of a hot streak lately, relatively speaking. They pounded out 11 hits in last night’s win over the Indians, after collecting 32 hits over the weekend in Chicago. In their last six games, the team has 62 hits. Generally speaking, averaging more than 10 hits per game is going to result in quite a few wins.
The Royals, however, are just 3-3 in those six games. Despite the flood of hits, the Royals are still in a sort of scoring drought, scoring 15 runs in those games, and never more than five in a single game – a game they lost, because of course they did. In each of the last two games, they’ve gotten 11 hits, and still managed to score three runs and two runs, respectively. They simply haven’t been capitalizing on enough opportunities.
It seemed to me that this has been a fairly regularly occurrence this season, so I decided to check. I looked through the team’s game logs to find games in which the Royals had 10 hits or more (above their per game average), while scoring three runs or fewer.
There have been 29 games this season in which the team had double-digit hits. That’s pretty good! Of those 29, seven have resulted in three runs or fewer being scored. That’s pretty bad! Almost a quarter of the Royals’ best hit-collecting performances have not led to an above-average scoring output. Here are those games:
April 11 at Houston (2-8 L)
April 20 vs Detroit (2-3 L)
April 21 at Los Angeles of Anaheim of Orange County of California (2-4 L)
May 9 at New York (3-6 L)
June 7 at Baltimore (1-9 L)
June 12 at Chicago (3-1 W)
June 13 vs Cleveland (2-1 W)
Unsurprisingly, scoring just a couple of runs per game has resulted in a 2-5 record in those games.
There are quite a few reasons for the lack of scoring in those contests, from overly aggressive baserunning, to grounding into double plays, to poor situational hitting, to bad luck, and everything in between. I don’t think the causes are worth deeply exploring, mostly because it seems like this type of thing should regress to the mean. This most certainly was not a problem for last year’s squad.
The 2015 Royals had 71 games with at least 10 hits, but just nine of those games resulted in three runs or fewer. That’s two more than the current team is at already, and there are almost 100 games to go. Obviously they’re missing some starters, but this still seems like an unsustainable trend.
On the other hand, the Royals did deal with similar issues in the two seasons prior to last year’s run. The 2014 team collected 10 or more hits 68 times, and scored three runs or fewer in 13 of those games, and in 2013, they had 66 double-digit hit games, with 14 of those resulting in no more than three runs. Those percentages are still lower than this year’s, but it’s close enough to see how simple regression is no guarantee.
On the other, other hand, the fact that the Royals have so many games with at least 10 hits is promising in itself, particularly considering their injury issues. They’ve had that many hits in nearly 47 percent of their games, which is even ahead of last year’s pace, and we’re just now beginning to approach summer weather. There is plenty of time for the offense’s run production to pick up.
And the way the starting pitching has been going this year, with the exception of the last three games, this team is going to need to cash in on every single opportunity they can get. The Royals will be in a dog fight for the division all season, so they can’t afford to leave runs on the bases consistently. The margin for error this year is small, so capitalizing on those chances more frequently will be a much-needed boost to the Royals’ title defense.