This may come as a surprise, but the Royals haven’t historically hit a lot of home runs. I know, this is brand new information, so I’ll give everyone a minute to catch their breath. As you know, Mike Moustakas is two home runs shy of the team record for home runs, which is a paltry 36. He currently has hit the third most home runs in team history, tied with John Mayberry, Danny Tartabull and Dean Palmer. Moose has hit his 34 in 109 games while the others hit theirs in 156, 158 and 152 respectively.
So you know the Royals have never hit many home runs and you know that Mike Moustakas is on track to break the individual team record and you also probably realize that the Royals are a mere 21 home runs away from breaking the team record of 168 set in 1987.
What you may not know is that they’re on track to do all that with some home run balance we haven’t ever seen in Kansas City before.
The Royals currently have five players on track to hit 20 or more home runs using a formula of home runs divided by team games played times 162. The reason I note the methodology is that Whit Merrifield is on pace for 19 that way, but he wasn’t in the big leagues for the team’s first 12 games. If you take those 12 games out, he’s actually on pace for exactly 20 home runs. We’re being generous here, so let’s say there are six players pacing to hit 20 bombs this year for the Royals.
That would be a team record.
There are some holdups to that. Brandon Moss and Jorge Bonifacio have seen their playing time cut a bit since the acquisition of Melky Cabrera. With both at 15, they could both get to 20 even with sporadic playing time, but it doesn’t seem as likely as it once did.
Twice in team history, the Royals have had four players exceed 20 home runs in a season. Those seasons were 1977 (Mayberry, Al Cowens, George Brett and Hal McRae) and 1987 (Tartabull, Steve Balboni, Brett and Bo Jackson). The moral of this story is that if the season ends in a seven, there will be home runs hit.
Eight times in team history, the Royals have had three players exceed 20 home runs. I’m not going to list every player to do it, but the years were 1985, 1988, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002 and then each of the last two seasons before this one.
The 2017 Royals currently have two players already at 20 or more home runs. One of them, Salvador Perez, has done it for three straight seasons. Moose has also hit 20 or more home runs three times in his career, making them two of just nine in franchise history to eclipse that mark at least three times. The leader in that is, of course, George Brett having done it eight times. Mike Sweeney has done it six times, Mayberry five times and Jackson, Carlos Beltran and Balboni four times each.
Only 34 players in franchise history have ever hit 20 or more home runs in a season. Some make perfect sense, like those listed above. Others, like Miguel Olivo, Jay Bell and Jeff Francoeur might hearken back to a time of Royals baseball we might strive to forget. Some may have actually forgotten that Alex Gordon has twice struck 20 or more home runs in a season. That’s understandable as we currently wonder if he’ll even hit 20 over the final three years of his monster contract.
Currently seven players already have 10 or more home runs for the Royals. That ties the 1982, 1993 and 2008 teams for the second most in franchise history. They’re only behind the 2003 team. We all remember that group well. The unfortunate thing is that they’ll likely finish with seven unless Alex Gordon goes on a tear in the final six weeks, which seems unlikely or Melky Cabrera hits seven more home runs, which seems vaguely possible, I guess, but not probable. Maybe Cam Gallagher can get 19 more grand slams before it’s all said and done.
What does this all mean? Unfortunately not a lot if the Royals don’t turn all these home runs into a playoff appearance. But it does mean that in a few weeks, we won’t have to sit back and talk about dismal franchise records. The Royals are on pace to hit 203 home runs this season. Mike Moustakas is on pace to crack 47. They’re on track to have six guys hit 20 or more. A couple of them are not a part of the six we thought could get there before the season, but that’s probably okay.
A lot of this is a product of baseball and probably the baseballs. The Royals pace of 203 home runs has them tied for 15th most in all of baseball this season. Houston is on track for 258 and three other teams are on track for 240 or more. The craziest thing about this home run barrage, though? The Kansas City Royals have currently hit 12 more home runs than the Colorado Rockies who play half their games in Colorado.
Now there’s a stat I never thought I’d see.