Since this is the silly season, the time when we draw all kinds of absurd conclusions based on data ten times too small to be valuable, let's go ahead an bring up the fact that the Royals are showing dangerous signs of severe hactasticity. Hopefully, this is only a freak stretch, and will be something that passes. Hopefully. A case can be made, however, that between Moore's seeming blind spot regarding OBP and all the pro-Angels talk we heard from the Hillman signing onward, that in fact, this issue won't be going away.
We can break this down all kinds of ways:
- The Royals haven't drawn a walk since Thursday afternoon.
- The Royals haven't drawn a walk against the Twins in two games.
- The last Royal to draw a walk in a Major League, regular season game, was John Buck, in the 6th inning of Game Three.
- Since Buck's epic walk, the Royals have gone 81 straight at bats without accepting a free pass.
- Heading into today's game, the Royals were 12th in the AL in OBP, and tied for last in walks drawn.
- Billy Butler, Alex Gordon and, obviously, Tony Pena Jr. haven't walked yet. Nor have bench players German, Callaspo and Olivo.
- The Royals haven't had their leadoff man draw a walk once this season. In five games neither David DeJesus or Joey Gathright have drawn a walk.
Yes, it's still early, and will continue to be so for weeks, even months. Yes, the Royals have faced some good pitchers. They've also faced Scott Baker and Livan Hernandez and the Tiger bullpen. The question we might as well start thinking about -- because if not, why are we here? -- is can all these things be happening by coincidence? Ross Gload has a career .295 average, but still has a less than ideal .334 career OBP. Not only has Moore traded for him, he's also resigned him through 2009! John Buck can walk a little, but his BA will always be so low that his OBP will always likely be sub .300. His backup? Miguel Olivo and his career .275 (!) OBP. Our stud offensive signing this off-season, Jose Guillen? His career OBP is .325. If, at the coaching level, naturally more patient hitters like Gordon, Butler and Teahen are also being told constantly to "stay aggressive", then suddenly we've got a doomsday scenario. Yes, Hillman said OBP was important for the leadoff man this winter, which was encouraging. But in a reverse way, the quote is also troubling, as OBP is important for everyone, not just whomever is the guy playing the leadoff role.
It isn't just about the lack of walks and walks as an offensive weapon. It's about making outs. To steal a line from Joe Sheehan, outs are the clock. When the Royals made their 27th out today, the game ended, by rule. If this team keeps hacking away, all the singles and random homers and cute little hits and runs won't matter, because the Royals will run out of time before they can generate enough offense to score.