This was the longest first half we’ve ever seen in Kansas City, both in terms of the number of games and in terms of how exhausting it is to watch this team every day. But we’re still here, so you should be too. With a team that has already surpassed their loss total of the 2015 championship season, there isn’t much to talk about usually, but it’s fun to be able to take a step back and look at some of the numbers. One of the great resources that has become more and more publicly available in recent seasons is the Statcast data, which can be equal parts amazing and overused, but it’s still fun, so let’s take a look at some of the highs and lows from the pre-break Royals.
This is an easy one to dig into because it’s just how many miles per hour the ball is hit. Taking an average doesn’t necessarily give the best data, but we’re going to look at it anyway. Here are the Royals leaders:
|Salvador Perez||90.5 MPH|
Lots of Royals hit the ball harder than the MLB average, which seems like a good thing. And yet, here we are. The Royals best hitter, Merrifield, is just under the MLB average and their hardest hitter is having the worst season of his career. Perez has the 59th highest average exit velocity in baseball, so that might start to explain some things.
Hard Hit Percentage
Since the average for exit velocity isn’t a great correlation to success, hard hit percentage looks to maybe give a little more data. A ball is considered hard hit when it’s struck at 95 MPH or harder.
|Player||Hard Hit %|
There’s Salvy at the top of the list again, which makes you wonder if he’s been a bit unlucky this season, and there’s a good argument that he has with a .235 BABIP and all those hard-hit balls. His ground ball percentage is up, but not to Hosmerian levels or anything, so his double plays seem partially to just be some bad timing, more than anything. If not for the wear and tear of catching, I’d argue he might be due for a nice second half bounceback. I’m not so sure if that’ll be the case since it’s him, but it’s possible. His hard-hit rate ranks 37th in baseball with Moose coming in at 86th.
Barrels Per Batted Ball Event
This is a little complicated, but a barrel is defined as when a ball is hit at the right exit velocity and launch angle to lead to a minimum .500 xBA and 1.500 xSLG. Basically, it’s a ball hit basically perfectly. Barreling balls is good.
Again, the Royals are well above league average here, but their top man, Perez, ranks 63rd. But also again, it seems like Perez has gotten the short end of a fair amount of line drives this season.
Launch angle, to me, is one of the most overused stats out there without context. It just needs more clarification behind it for anything regarding launch angle to be relevant other than if you’re describing just how high a popup was or something for emphasis. Still, we’ve got some context with the hard-hit balls in the previous categories, so here is the Royals launch angle leaderboard.
The guys who should be hitting the ball in the air are, for the most part, and the guys who can get by on the ground are, for the most part. I’d like to see Dozier lift the ball a little better given his batted ball numbers. If he can get a little more in the air than he did before the break, he could hit eight to 10 homers in the last 65 games.
The Royals were once lauded for their contact ability. They shouldn’t be anymore, though they do have some players who are still very good at making contact. It’s just that they have a lot who aren’t.
Jorge and Adalberto, the future.
|Adalberto Mondesi||29.5 ft/s|
Man, the old Royals players are sloooooooooooooooooow. I wrote about this earlier in the season, how unathletic this team is. Things are getting better, though. Mondesi is a burner and fun to watch. Dozier moves surprisingly well. Merrifield is always fun. Bonifacio can move a little bit, so can Soler. They’re not necessarily going to be better in the second half, but adding Mondesi, Herrera and Bonifacio to the team and getting Soler back, along with trading Moustakas out for a quicker guy will at least make them a little more exciting from a speed perspective.
By now you’ve probably figured out that the headline of this piece had a double meaning. Let’s hope for those of us watching this team that the offensive numbers end up a little less offensive in the last two and a half months.
Find all this great data at Baseball Savant. It’s an incredible site that will cause you to lose serious track of time.