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The Juice From The Kansas City Power Company

On Wednesday in San Francisco, the Royals went 1-14 with runners in scoring position. If you didn’t know anything from the game other than that tidbit, you’d probably assume there weren’t a lot of runs provided by the Kansas City nine. Except it didn’t quite work that way.

The Royals plated seven runs total. The only hit with a runner in scoring position was when Lorenzo Cain laced a 3-0 pitch to bring home Whit Merrifield from third. Four runs scored on three home runs. The other two runs scored when Merrifield scored from first on a Jorge Bonifacio double and on a Mike Moustakas sac fly.

Despite the plethora of runs and the win, the futility with runners in scoring position continues a season-long trend. Collectively, the AL is hitting .255/.336/.421 with RISP. The Royals, are worst in the league with RISP, hitting .235/.304/.349. Productively speaking, they’re 30 percent worse than league average with RISP.

This is a problem.

Yet the Royals are scoring runs. Their runs per game average has climbed since the depths of April. The Royals have scored 252 runs this year which works out to 3.9 R/G. 110 of those runs have crossed the plate via the home run. That’s nearly 44 percent of all runs scored. As home runs are up, so are the amount of runs scored from the dinger. So far this year, around 44 percent of all runs scored are because someone had the audacity to deposit a baseball over the fence. So in that sense, the Royals are right at league average when it comes to their run scoring tendencies and the long ball. Still, the question is being asked if the Royals have become too dinger dependent.

Let’s break it all down, looking at the home runs from each member of the Royals offense. The RBI total listed comes exclusively from the dingers. That number is divided by the player’s overall RBI total to get the percentage of runs brought home by each player and their home runs.

Mike Moustakas
18 HR, 27 RBI
68% of all RBI

The Balboni Watch is hardcore. Moustakas has been the Royals most productive power hitter all year with a .565 SLG and team leading 18 dingers. Pity he spent the first two months of the season hitting behind a slumping Alex Gordon and an inept Alcides Escobar. His first eight home runs of the year brought home nine runs. That’s difficult to do. Since moving to the sixth spot earlier this month, he’s hit four home runs and brought home seven.

Salvador Perez
13 HR, 19 RBI
54% of all RBI

In an apparent affront to Earl Weaver, Perez has yet to hit a three-run home run this year. He has seven solo shots and six two-run dingers.

Brandon Moss
9 HR, 12 RBI
80% of all RBI

Moss hasn’t seen much time as the Royals swung through a couple of National League ballparks. Seven of his nine home runs have come with the bases empty. He has a two-run homer and a three-run shot. With just 15 RBI on the year, those two dingers account for 33 percent of his run production.

Jorge Bonifacio
9 HR, 14 RBI
61% of all RBI

Like Moss, Bonifacio’s RBI total via the home run is probably a little skewed by his small sample size. And like Perez, he has yet to hit a three-run home run.

Eric Hosmer
7 HR, 13 RBI
50% of all RBI

Of course, Hosmer is the power outlier here. He’s clubbed six two-run home runs and one with the bases empty, leading to just half of the runs batted in he’s accumulated.

Lorenzo Cain
7 HR, 11 RBI
50% of all RBI

Cain owns the Royals only grand slam.

Whit Merrifield
6 HR, 6 RBI
26% of all RBI

Fun fact: Merrifield’s two home runs last year were also with the bases empty. He’s never left the yard with a runner on base. That’s a lonely welcoming committee at home plate.

Alex Gordon
2 HR, 2 RBI
17% of all RBI

Alcides Escobar
1 HR, 1 RBI
6% of all RBI

Two of the least productive Royals hitters to this point, so it’s not a surprise they have the lowest RBI percentage via the home run among the regulars.

Drew Butera
2 HR, 2 RBI
40% of all RBI

Cheslor Cuthbert
1 HR, 1 RBI
10% of all RBI

Jorge Soler
1 HR, 1 RBI
33% of all RBI

Raul Mondesi
1 HR, 1 RBI
50% of all RBI

Small samples size abounds here. This crew is notable only for the fact they’ve combined for five home runs and all were with the bases empty.

Here’s the home run breakdown through Wednesday’s game:

Solo – 50
Two-Run – 22
Three-Run – 4
Grand Slam – 1

What does it all mean? The Royals aren’t exactly more dependent upon the home run relative to the other teams in the league, but their inability to consistently reach base (their .297 team OBP is still worst in the American League) will continue to hamstring their run production. The power is real and the runs generated from that power is right in line with what we should expect. But should they experience a brownout, their low OBP means they will suffer more than the league average team and the runs will go dry. Think early April. That could be a scenario the Royals revisit for a week or two at some point this season.

The hope here is if the power suffers a decline, it will be offset by some gap to gap hitting with some other extra base hits thrown in the mix to pick up the slack. This remains an odd Royals team. They’ve hit 91 doubles which is the second lowest total in the AL.

The home runs are nice and for the Royals to jump back into the race, they need to remain in the offensive toolkit.

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