GMDM: Addressing the Royals' issues
The Royals have an issue in their Offensive Department….Period.
It is anemic right now. In a month and some change the Royals have only scored more than 5 runs 5 times. In contrast, they have scored 2 or fewer runs in a game 9 times during that stretch. Something must be done to address this.
Bring in GMDM.
Dayton Moore recently put the hearts and minds of Royals fans to rest when according to Jeff Flanagan he assured the Kansas City Fandom that he has “addressed” the issues.
I went to last night’s game. I saw very little if any change from our first 6 batters when it came to approach at the plate. Eric Hosmer swung out of his shoes in every at bat he had. And the one time he kept his shoulder in, and didn’t fly open, he drove a ball to the wall in left center. So was this where you addressed the issue? 1 out of 5 a.b.’s use good mechanics?
Or is our new approach to try and score as many runs without a hit as possible? Did anyone see the Alcides Escobar show that was the 8th inning last night? Escobar slaps a ball down the first base line. Needing a perfect play to get him out, the Padres fumbled the PFP and Escobar feet first slid into the bag safely. While it has been shown you will actually delay your speed to the bag by sliding, and it is better to run through, I think Escobar’s realized the pitcher was going to be short of the base and try to tag tag him for the out. Thus getting down would help him elude the tag, while reaching out for the bag. A really savvy play for a younger player.
With our most productive hitter during the series up next and only one out, Escobar steals second to get into scoring position. Lorenzo Cain now needed only a single to get the Royals a lead. But Escobar wasn’t finished. He, for the second straight night, stole third.
Where Ned Yost may have called the steal for second to get him in scoring position, stealing third is almost always on the runner. So I think he saw something in the pitcher’s delivery (or Yasmani Granal’s inability to catch him) that tipped him off that he could make it, and he did.
Now we had a runner in a position to score without a hit, and one out (Although it should have been two as it appeared Cain took a full swing at the pitch before, but apparently the entire stadium was watching Escobar take off, and they missed it). So Cain takes a hack at the next pitch. The ball pops up toward Ken Harvey Territory along the first base line. Padres first baseman Kyle Blanks makes an over the shoulder catch. Escobar and Dale Sveum decide to tag and attempt to score…On a pop foul to the First Baseman.
Hell I don’t even disagree with this play. However, Blanks, though big and not so agile, is an outfielder that is simply playing first. He spins and throws out Escobar to end the inning, and thus ends the threat of winning a game in regulation. Is this what we mean by addressing the offense? Understand we can’t get a hit out of the infield until the 11 inning, so do anything you can to try and steal a run? I am in no way faulting Escobar or Dale Sveum on this. I am not even mad at Yost. If he scores, they all look like geniuses, as we walk the victory line after 9 innings.
But really. That is all we got? I think it is telling of what this management feels about our players offensively.
Addressing Issues: What I hear when I read the reports of GMDM saying we have addressed the offensive issue is like me saying, “I need to address this workout issue. So I will hit the gym more often.” And then I walk straight past the weight room and into the cafeteria for some Red Vines and Mr. Pibb (they are crazy delicious).
Or when my girlfriend tells me she will address her nagging issue. While in the same breath she reminds me that I haven’t done the dishes in ten minutes.
It is just lip service. GMDM said it himself. There is no one out there to get to fix the problem from a players standpoint. And he isn’t going to bring in his 6th hitting coach/special assistant to the assistant coach, or whatever code name we give these guys. He is going to stick with the guys he developed and brought on board. But give them a stern talking too.
So let’s put “Addressing the Issue” in perspective: Last nights starter for the San Diego Padres was Robbie Erlin. Erlin came into the game with a 5+ERA. He was 1-4 and coming off a rough start against the Nationals a week or so before, and a lose to the Giants on April 30th.
He was a guy on the ropes.
This is the kind of pitching the Royals should crush. Not overpowering, but good stuff. Yet he didn’t have good stuff today. At one point he had thrown 68 pitches – 34 balls and 34 strikes (he ended at 45-58 still not good). In the grand scheme of pitching, that is a lot of wasted pitches on an arm.
You would also assume (as every swing a player takes is considered a strike) that the opposing team would be taking a lot of walks. Yet we only took 4 walks.
And I want everyone to sit down before they read this….but ESCOBAR WAS ONE OF THEM! I know. I was as confused as anyone. So what was our approach? Some could argue it was to see more pitches. And I for one subscribe to this methodology of hitting. Pitchers are not the Pope. They will make mistakes. It is hitting the mistakes that some batters will focus on, but that isn’t always feasible. So the approach must be to recognize sequences, or pitches, and execute on them.
We are still not doing this. We struck out 8 times last night (Hosmer nearly had half of those). Yet when we buckled down and focused we did exactly what we needed too. We went with pitches. Both Hosmer and Butler’s doubles were to the opposite field gaps. We also capitalized on mistakes, Salvy was just being Salvy on his bomb. You miss your location, you pay. But we have to see that, and praise it. More team at bats, and better swing selection.
This team seems indisciplined at the plate. They are somewhat young, but I wonder how much of that is the fact they were never reeled in as younger pros? They always had the swing away mentality. I saw a stat earlier that said we were 1-6 when swinging with a 3-0 count; that means our batting average when we can be almost positive we are getting a strike is .167.
Prepare for some knowledge to be dropped: Offensively the Royals rank 22nd in On Base Percentage (OBS) . They are 23rd in the MLB in Runs, which is no surprise when a team doesn’t hit home runs. Which is shown when you see they are 24th in Slugging %, and 14th in batting Average.
But the story doesn’t stop there. This is not a home run hitting team, and we don’t play in a great park for the long ball. However, we are currently hitting one home run per every 78.4 plate appearances. To put that in perspective, the San Diego Padres are second on this list at 1 per 59. That is almost a full games worth of a.b’s less.
The top two teams in the A.L Central are hitting home runs at about twice the pace as the Royals. With runners in scoring position (which means at 2nd or 3rd for the non-baptized), the Royals are borderline embarrassing.
With my basic addition skills aside, I think after last night the Royals are hitting .209 with Runner in Scoring Position after going just 2-11 in a 1-1 game through 10 innings.
What’s the take home?
Maybe we are just in another slow start. Regression points toward improvement with a lot of these guys. Billy Butler looks to be turning a corner. When Hosmer runs into the ball he hits it far, Gordon will wake up, and Escobar may stay hot enough to get hit in on occasion.
But it also may mean we produced a good crop of serviceable major leaguers, but nothing real special (MINUS SALVY of course). But what it does mean until then is hopefully you will finally get to see the end of a game before midnight tonight (as it starts at 12:40 PST) and hey, even if you go to the games, and they get into extra innings, just think of it as free baseball! And everyone likes free stuff! Especially when it is baseball!