Jun 15, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox designated hitter Matt Davidson (24) hits a single against the Detroit Tigers as he breaks hit bat during the fourth inning at Guaranteed Rate Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The “Only Against the Royals” All-Stars

When the Twins demoted Miguel Sano last week, it got me thinking about how maybe the lack of times the Royals and Twins have faced off this season is partially to blame for the slugger’s struggles this season. It’s not hard to come to that conclusion. Look at last season when Sano hit a robust .264/.352/.507. For a 24-year old, that’s a nice season to build on. Of course, take the Royals out of the equation and his season line falls to a much less impressive .246/.335/.468. For a guy without a ton of defensive value, that line plays, but he has his .413/.491/.826 to thank for his solid 2017.

As you know, the Royals haven’t exactly had the best season in 2018. They don’t score runs and they allow too many. It’s sort of a recipe for disaster. So which players are the Royals helping the most this season? Let’s take a gander.

Shin-Soo Choo

After another huge game against the Royals last night, Choo has continued his assault on Royals pitching. A big factor in his resurgence has been the fact that he’s absolutely destroyed the Royals.

PA AVG OBP SLG HR RBI
vs. Royals 23 .429 .652 1.214 3 3
vs. The Rest 302 .271 .374 .438 10 29

Matt Davidson

And now it’s time for the obvious. If the Royals had played the White Sox as few times as they’ve played the Twins, Davidson might have been designated for assignment. But they haven’t and he isn’t. Here are the numbers:

PA AVG OBP SLG HR RBI
vs. Royals 32 .462 .563 1.308 7 12
vs. The Rest 192 .205 .323 .373 6 19

Adam Engel

Sticking with the White Sox, Engel has proven to be, we’ll say, less than as a hitter in the big leagues. But don’t tell Royals pitching that. He’s somehow carved up the Royals. With him, I’m going to show how he’s done this season against the Royals:

PA AVG OBP SLG HR RBI
vs. Royals 19 .313 .389 .500 0 2
vs. The Rest 186 .201 .261 .278 2 12

But also his career numbers, which are really just this year and last year. It’s not so much that he was actually that great against the Royals last year, but he’s just SO bad against everyone else:

PA AVG OBP SLG HR RBI
vs. Royals 66 .254 .323 .492 1 11
vs. The Rest 475 .173 .239 .260 7 24

Marwin Gonzalez

Gonzalez was a huge piece of the 2017 championship run for the Astros, but this season hasn’t exactly gotten off to a great start. He’s not a liability necessarily because he can play multiple positions, but he just hasn’t been exceptional for them. We’ll see if this weekend was a blip or if the Royals are responsible for getting him going.

PA AVG OBP SLG HR RBI
vs. Royals 12 .500 .583 .700 0 2
vs. The Rest 243 .248 .321 .388 5 31

Francisco Lindor

Lindor is a heck of a player and is an All-Star no matter how many time he faces the Royals, but the numbers are just so jarring that I had to include him in this list. The 26 plate appearances against the Royals raise his average by 15 points, his OBP by 17 and his SLG by 33. That’s impressive.

PA AVG OBP SLG HR RBI
vs. Royals 26 .476 .560 .952 2 3
vs. The Rest 306 .272 .344 .496 14 35

Yoan Moncada

Do you sense a bit of a theme here? The White Sox are not good, but boy do they love seeing the Royals. Moncada is insanely talented, but he hasn’t shown a ton in the big leagues to this point. That doesn’t mean he won’t, but let’s just say he’s very thankful for the Royals this season.

PA AVG OBP SLG HR RBI
vs. Royals 35 .303 .343 .545 2 4
vs. The Rest 241 .215 .296 .379 7 19

Matt Olson

Olson had one fantastic rookie year for Oakland in 2017 hitting 24 home runs in just 59 games. He looked the part of a big time slugger for years to come. And even this season when he’s struggled, he’s absolutely mauled some home runs, routinely going 450+. Against the Royals, though, it’s been a different level for him.

PA AVG OBP SLG HR RBI
vs. Royals 29 .292 .414 .792 4 9
vs. The Rest 262 .226 .302 .404 10 26

Albert Pujols

Man he’s had a great career, and he’s punished the team that played mere miles from where he played college ball. This year is no different. As The Machine is no longer capable of much, he continues to make the Royals miserable.

PA AVG OBP SLG HR RBI
vs. Royals 19 .389 .421 .667 1 5
vs. The Rest 265 .239 .275 .402 11 35

Justin Upton

Upton has been a very good player for the vast majority of his career and after a nice half-season with the Angels, he signed a new deal with them rather than opting out of the deal he signed with the Tigers. Things haven’t gone well for him on his new deal…other than when the Angels take on the Royals.

PA AVG OBP SLG HR RBI
vs. Royals 27 .538 .556 .885 3 7
vs. The Rest 278 .224 .320 .422 13 39

There are others that maybe aren’t quite as dramatic. And yes, there are actually some who the Royals have handled so well that they actually make their overall numbers worse. Jose Abreu is the rare example of a White Sox player who hasn’t benefited greatly from facing Royals pitching. He’s hit .284/.339/.504 this season but just .174/.321/.348 against the Royals. Every team has those players who are just thorns in their sides throughout the season. Bad teams with bad pitching tend to have more. There’s still plenty of baseball left to add to this list too, so watch out for more batters to be Raised Royal as 2018 goes on.

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