Slowly, the outfielder moves toward the ball. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
So many things are changing at Kauffman Stadium, it's difficult to keep track...
The latest, according to Bob Dutton: The Royals outfield will no longer try to pick up the outfield assist by playing shallow. They've decided to drop back and prevent doubles and triples.
Although they will still start Jeff Francoeur.
It's long been an organizational philosophy of the Royals to position their outfielders shallow. I've seen it, you've seen it, the beer vendors have seen it. I follow a few scouts on Twitter and they've made note of it. This is hardly a state secret.
So this is what happens when you dismiss your outfield coach in the middle of the season. Play deep!
Quoth Rusty Kuntz:
I’m a little more conservative than what was here before. Outfield assists are great, but doubles and triples over your head produce a lot of runs. In some situations, we’re a little deeper now than before. In some situations, we’re not.
Yes, doubles and triples do tend to produce more runs. Although - here's the funny part - the Royals aren't much worse than the average American League team when it comes to allowing the extra base hit.
The Royals extra base hit percentage - the percentage of all plate appearances against ending in extra base hits - is currently at eight percent. League average is 7.9 percent. The Royals percentage of base hits allowed that have gone for extra bases is at 34 percent. That's right in line with the league average. Going by strict numbers and not percentages, Royal pitchers have surrendered 206 doubles this season. The average AL pitching staff has allowed 201 doubles.
Man, it seems like everything is pretty much average for the Royals when it comes to their pitchers allowing extra base hits. Seems like this "shift in outfield positioning philosophy" is a lot of noise about what really should amount to nothing.
Except there is one thing. The Royals have allowed 31 triples this season. That's by far the most in the AL. League average is 18.
Included in Dutton's story is this nugget:
Yost cited a need to protect center fielder Lorenzo Cain, who continues to nurse sore legs following surgery to repair a torn flexor; while noting Francoeur "has slowed down a little bit."
Makes sense to want to protect Cain, and... Wait... What? Frenchy has slowed down?!? Really?!?
Except our man in right doesn't seem to agree.
But say there’s a runner on first with two outs, I’ve moved back some just to make sure if there is a gapper, I can get there quickly.
He can get there quickly. Did you read that? Quickly. I suppose that's a relative adverb.
Bookmark this story. This is sure to be the only time the Royals remotely suggest something is wrong with Saint Francoeur. In the meantime, the triples will most assuredly continue. At least the outfielders will be playing a couple of steps back toward the warning track. I guess.