Once upon a time the Royals had something resembling power. There was a year in the not too distant past when the Royals hit 131 home runs—not a great number, but a full 49% higher than the pace they are on this year. On June 24 of that year, the Royals hit four home runs and plated eight runs—and they did it in their home stadium, a notoriously difficult place to hit it out. Their DH hit his team-leading 14th; their third baseman hit two, including a towering 464-foot shot in the first inning; later in the game, the right fielder added a solo shot.
It would be the beginning of an offensive surge in which the Royals would score eight runs in three consecutive games (each, not total!) and seven different players would combine for 11 home runs over the span of five games.
Once upon a time this team had something resembling power. It’s too bad we can’t put together an offense like that anymore.
That was just last year, and we have essentially the same offense now—except that the players have had another year to mature, and with the possible exception of Alex Gordon they are one year closer to their prime. They've also had fewer long-term injuries this year than last.
Here’s a video of Mike Moustakas’ first inning home run in that game a year ago; at the time it was one of the ten longest of the season in all of major league baseball. Here’s the box score; this being the Royals, they lost despite their offensive outpouring. It was a Jonathan Sanchez start.
But the very next day Eric Hosmer hit his ninth home run and the Royals scored eight again—far more than they would need as Luke Hochevar threw a complete game shutout. The Royals would go on to win four games in a row before Sanchez took the mound again.
There are a lot of reasons the excuses about how hard it is to hit home runs in the K just don't hold up, but surely the most damning is the fact that this same offense—which wasn't a very good offense—hit 43 more home runs than this year’s team is on pace to get.
And it's not just home runs. This team is on pace to score 60 fewer runs than last year, and last year's OPS+ of 95 looks great compared to this year's 86.
We can all see how poorly the offense is performing this year, but perhaps the most frustrating thing about their performance is that they shown in the past that they don't have to be this bad.