The Royals scored five runs on Tuesday. Five! Runs!
This is an amazing development given they had scored six runs in the five completed games on the current road trip. Five runs in nine innings qualifies as an offensive explosion for this edition of the Royals.
Yeah. Scoring runs is a problem.
Baseball-Reference has a nice metric called Run Scoring Percentage. It’s simple in that it’s basically the percentage of time a batter comes around to touch home after reaching base. It seems like a useful stat. After all, the name of the game is scoring runs. Although someone should tell the Royals.
Anyway, let’s look at the Royals who are coming around to score with the most frequency with stats through Monday’s action.
|Jorge Bonifacio (40-man)||10||0%|
|Terrance Gore (40-man)||0|
At least when they reach base. It’s cool that Raul Mondesi and Paulo Orlando are coming around to score 50 and 44 percent of the time respectively they reach base. Really great. The problem, as you know, is they hardly ever touched first.
It’s interesting – not particularly notable – that the Royals top three in RS% are two guys who are in the minors and another who is the backup catcher.
So no Royals regular scores at an above league average rate when they reach base.
And…they don’t really reach base that much.
|Rank in 15 AL teams||9||15||15||15||15|
Notice the Rank at the bottom of the table. Dead last in the AL on the slash. Not great.
The deck is already stacked against those who would be Royals run producers. Let’s look at the Royals who are bringing home the base runners.
|Jorge Bonifacio (40-man)||10||1||0||0%|
The Royals most productive hitters with base runners on do their work at the top of the lineup. (Generally speaking. You know we’ve probably seen the last of Alex Gordon leading off for the time being.)
As you can see, there aren’t any bats of distinguish in the Royals lineup. Anywhere. Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain have healthy slash lines, but their run producing ability has been squashed by the ineptitude around them. Two semi-productive players out of nine isn’t enough to get the job done. This isn’t Earth-shattering analysis. Anyone who’s watched nine innings of a Royals game can see the futility from almost top to bottom of the batting order. Still, the table above is striking to illustrate that not a single Royals batter is distinguishing himself.
The most productive Royals batter with runners on base is former leadoff man Gordon. Except there was the small matter of getting runners on base in front of him. With Orlando, Alcides Escobar and Mondesi hitting in the bottom third of the order the most frequently ahead of Gordon, there was no one on base for the Royals left fielder to bring home.
Through 78 plate appearances, Gordon hit with 24 runners on base. The average major league player with the same number of plate appearances has hit with 45 runners on base. That’s a massive gap in opportunity. If Gordon drives home 17 percent of runners, and if he hit with the league average number of runners on base for a player of his amount of plate appearances, we could assume he would double his RBI production. Yeah, that pushes his RBI total from four to eight, which, at first glance doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. Realize though, runs for this team are at a premium.
You could play this game for every bat in the top half of the order. Bats are either coming up with not enough runners on ahead of them, or they aren’t producing with runners on. Eric Hosmer, hitting behind Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas, the two Royals leading the team in OBP, has come to bat with 58 runners on base. The league average runners on for a player with his number of plate appearances is 43. (So, the Royals do have offensive numbers for individual players that are above league average!) Yet, Homer’s RBI percentage from the table above is a miserable five percent. Again, if he could just be league average, he would double his raw RBI numbers. As discussed with Gordon above, it wouldn’t be a massive jump in run-scoring production, but every run matters.
At this point, the Royals have dug themselves such a run scoring hole it’s going to take some time to dig out and even begin to approach league average. They can still get there because anything is possible, but the cliche that it’s early doesn’t really apply anymore. Teams can’t go into a three-plus week run scoring hibernation if they expect to contend.