One night after launching four home runs, the Royals bats fell silent on Wednesday.
Such is life for the Royals offense on the current road trip.
They were blanked in the Bronx, which was the fifth time the offense put up a goose egg this year. If you prefer to look on the bright side, shutouts are going to happen, even to the best of offenses. And hey, this was the first time since May 2 the Royals failed to score a run.
We’re barely two months into the season and it seems as though we’ve found a common theme: The offense just isn’t good enough to mount a sustained charge.
The Royals continue to hold the worst record in the AL. They are the only team in the league without 20 wins. As a team, they’re hitting .227/.288/.367, ranking dead last in the league across the slash.
When the Royals hit the road at the end of last Friday, in the top of the second inning against the Twins, they put runners on the corners with two down. Cheslor Cuthbert hit a single to bring the runner home. That was the last time they recorded a hit with runners in scoring position. Since they, they’ve gone a collective 0-31 with runners on second and third. Woof.
Yet they’ve won two games on this trip. Not great, but with that kind of output, that’s kind of amazing. How is that possible? The Royals really dig the long ball.
The Royals have scored a total of 18 runs on this trip, an average of three runs per game. Admittedly, that’s not great but this is the Royals we’re discussing. They average 3.3 R/G, so they’re not that far off the pace.
What’s unique about the runs they’ve been scoring is they’ve come almost exclusively from the home run. On the current road trip, 16 of the 18 runs scored have come via the ball leaving the park. Aside from the Cuthbert single in Minneapolis, Alcides Escobar double on Monday night which scored Whit Merrifield from first. And that’s it. Six games, exactly two hits that scored a runner that stayed in the yard.
Of course, home runs are awesome. But when that’s you’re lone method of offense, there are going to be some lean times. Like we saw on Wednesday, no home runs, no runs.
The home run explosion on Tuesday threw a little cover for the struggling offense. The Royals couldn’t get anything going through the first six innings before they left the yard four times. So that awful runners in scoring position statistic – 1-32 on the road trip, remember? – they’ve gone just 0-3 in the last two games. That’s right. The Royals have advanced a runner to second or third for another batter just three times in the last two games. It’s amazing they’ve won two games on this trip.
Much has been written about the Royals hovering around .500 and the fringes of the Central or Wild Card race. The thought being if the club is close that will bring about some sort of roster entropy where Dayton Moore and his staff will be slow to sell or buy. It sure feels like we’ve discussed worst case scenarios quite a bit over the last couple of months. Not doing anything at the trade deadline amounts to a worst case scenario. Of course, we’re still two months away and plenty can happen between now and then, but thinking the offense is going to break out of their slumber seems like wishful thinking. This lineup is dysfunctional.
Since going on an offensive tear to open the month, Eric Hosmer is 1-11 in the Yankee series with a walk and three strikeouts. The way he runs hot and cold, you know what’s coming next. In the 16 games as the leadoff hitter for the Royals, Alcides Escobar has actually been worse at the plate than he had previously, hitting .176/.197/.206 in 74 plate appearances.
(A quick Escobar aside. There was much talk about Escobar and his consecutive start streak as he set a Royals record last weekend. It was his 213th consecutive start at shortstop, passing Paul Schaal. It was a record that speaks to the Royals stubbornness to acknowledge Escobar simply isn’t that good. Or it speaks to the Royals inability to produce a shortstop good enough to replace Escobar. It’s not like the bar is set all that high. Anyway, this is a record that brings to mind the Royals of the mid-aughts, not the championship teams of 2014 and 2015.)
Salvador Perez has been a pleasant surprise in the middle of the order and Jorge Bonifacio has shown some promising power in his brief audition. Even Whit Merrifield has caught the home run fever.
Yet with the lack of presence on the the bases, that power is all the Royals have in the lineup at the moment. And it’s not enough.