This offense stinks
A few reasons why the Royals offense is so poor to open the 2022 season. And maybe some hope.
Apologies for missing yesterday’s edition. Sometimes, you just need to take a day off, you know? Kind of like the Royals bats. Except they haven’t taken just a day. They’ve disappeared for pretty much the entire season.
Sure, the story of Wednesday’s bloodletting at the hands of the Cardinals would be Kris Bubic and his inability secure three outs for the second time in five starts this season. As brutal as that outing was it only served to overshadow the fact the bats were once again on ice. They were shutout for the fourth time in 2022—the third time in their last five games.
This Royals offense stinks. As in really putrid. Of course, the Royals are usually around the least productive lineups in the league, but this is something else. Offense is down around the league, but the Royals have sunk to new depths.
Read on, if you dare…
The Royals are scoring 3.04 runs per game
That’s the lowest rate of scoring runs in the majors. The five worst:
Orioles - 3.32 R/G
White Sox - 3.29 R/G
Tigers - 3.13 R/G
Reds - 3.08 R/G
Royals - 3.04 R/G
When we discuss the 2022 season and how a team is the worst at something, the yardstick is going to be the Cincinnati Reds. They’ve won three of their first 25 games. They are dreadful. So when you’re worse than the Cincinnati Reds in a certain category…my god, you don’t want to be worse than the Cincinnati Reds.
The other thing that stands out from that list—and I’m sure you noticed it too—there are three teams in the AL Central. Lordy, this division is offensively deficient. There really isn’t a way to justify now going on seven years removed from contention. (Maybe I’ll cut the team some slack and say six years removed. I thought they had a chance to get to October in 2016.) Still, the point remains.
Royals leadoff hitters are batting a collective .170/.235/.213
This was Whit Merrifield’s domain for the first 10 games of the season. He hit .150/.190/.175 in 42 plate appearances. Next, it was Nicky Lopez, who immediately went into an offensive tailspin, hitting .100/.229/.100 in 35 plate appearances at the top spot.
Here are the five worst team leadoff hitters, ranked by sOPS+
Brewers - 62
Padres - 52
Rangers - 43
Royals - 32
Phillies - 23
In other words, the Royals’ leadoff hitters have performed 68 percent worse than league average. (For reference, the league average at leadoff this year is .235/.310/.377.) The last three games, the Royals have tried Edward Olivares. He may not jump to front of mind when scanning the roster, in search of leadoff candidates but he did post a .347 OBP for Double-A Amarillo when he was in the Padres organization in 2019 and followed that up with a sweet .397 OBP for Omaha last year. Plus, he’s been on a tear of late…really since spring training. Maybe this is an ill-advised case of trying to find the proverbial hot bat, but what the hell…They have to do something to get going. Olivares has reached base in each game he’s hit at the top of the order, good for a .462 OBP.
The Royals team OBP is .286
It’s not good, but it’s not the worst. That’s the Reds at .267. League average is .306. Offense is down everywhere. But hold on to this number and proceed to the next point…
The Royals are scoring 25 percent of their runners
That, my friends, is the worst rate in converting baserunners to runs in the majors. Yes, worse than the Reds. Again.
The five worst according to Baseball-Reference:
Diamondbacks - 26%
Orioles - 26%
Tigers - 26%
Blue Jays - 26%
Royals - 25%
So, not only are the Royals bad at getting runners on base, once they get those runners on, they have a helluva time getting them home. I’m surprised to see the Jays there, because I thought their offense would be better, but they still provide a nice counterpoint. The Jays have a team OBP of .300. As you see above, they’re scoring 26 percent of their runners. In the end, they’re scoring 3.73 runs per game. That’s all below league average, but you see where I’m going. Just get on base. That’s the key to everything. But if you don’t get on base enough and don’t have a way to get those rare runners home…woof.
Salvador Perez has gone missing
On April 19, Perez was shifted from catcher to designated hitter before the game started. The reason the Royals gave was he was experiencing some of the same vision issues he dealt with at times during the 2020 season. The vision issues cleared up before the game, but the Royals felt it would be easier on his eyes not to have to maintain the constant focus needed behind the plate.
In that game, Perez hit not one, but two dingers, along with a walk in leading the Royals to a 4-3 victory over the Twins.
Since then, Perez has appeared in 14 games, collected 58 plate appearances and is hitting .127/.172/.236 with 22 strikeouts. Last year, Perez struck out a quarter of the time. Over these last 14 games, he’s striking out 38 percent of the time.
That he’s done this while hitting third or cleanup is a huge reason the Royals offense isn’t scoring runs. Then again, if the leadoff hitter isn’t getting on base, what does it matter that Perez has been an offensive sinkhole of late?
Is there a solution?
First off, I don’t think this offense is truly this poor. At least I don’t expect them to be this bad for the entire season. So time and an increased sample size will certainly help. That’s not to say this club is necessarily a good offense, or even a league-averge one. However, the seeds are there.
The Royals need to be a little more “transactional” in the lineup, giving some guys days off and other patience. Obviously, the patience needs to be given to the younger guys…kind of exactly what they have shown with Witt to this point. And just as obvious, they need to not be so beholden to their veterans. Give Perez a couple of days. Same with Whit Merrifield. Perez and Merrifield may not be at their peak, but there’s no way they’re this bad. It’s anecdotal and there’s no guaranteed, but I feel improvement on this front is coming.
They also need to be prepared to move on from some of those veterans. Just because they have a larger contract, that doesn’t mean they should serve as roadblocks to players who could actually help the ballclub. That means that once the Royals decide that someone like Vinnie Pasquatino is ready, they have to make room. If this group of young hitters is going to get this team to contention, they need to get up as soon as they are ready, roadblocks be damned.
Until then, the frustration around the lineup will continue to linger.
Tigers 2, Astros 3
José Urquidy threw six scoreless, but closer Ryan Pressly couldn’t finish the Tigers as Jeimer Candelario tied the game on a two-run home run with two outs in the ninth. And wouldn’t you know it, Detroit closer Gregory Soto didn’t record a single out in teh ninth. A single, walk and Kyle Tucker single walked it off. The Astros two earlier runs came on solo home runs from Jose Altuve and Jeremy Peña.
Blue Jays 5, Guardians 6
Steven Kwan homered and the middle of the Cleveland lineup provided the rest of the production, led by Franmil Reyes and his three hits. Emmanuel Clase recorded the final three outs—two whiffs—to record his fifth save.
Twins 3, Orioles 5
Flamethrower Jhoan Duran entered a tie game in the seventh and recorded the final out in the inning. After he recorded the first out in the eighth, Austin Hays and Ryan Mountcastle both went deep to provide the final scoreline. Byron Buxton hit a two-run home run for the Twins and drove in three.
It’s the start of a three-city, nine game road trip as the Royals pay a visit to Baltimore.
Friday - Carlos Hernández vs Jordan Lyles at 6:05 CDT
Saturday - Daniel Lynch vs Tyler Wells at 6:05 CDT
Sunday - Zack Greinke vs Bruce Zimmerman at 12:35 CDT