Yesterday I asserted that the Royals offense was hindered not necessarily by a lack of home runs, but by a lack of doubles and walks. The K seems to play better to doubles and triples at the expense of home runs. The Royals would score more frequently if they walked more and got more XBH, whether the ball was flying over the fence or into the gaps for doubles and triples.
This got me thinking about park factors and whether the Royals could put together an average offense that hit a below average amount of home runs.
As I stated yesterday, the average AL offense scored 702 runs on 1422 hits, 167 HR, 279 2B, 23 3B and 502 walks. The Royals posted 648 runs on 1443 hits, 112 HR, 254 2B, 34 3B and 422 walks.
But the K! the Royals would scream. The K keeps us from hitting HRs, which limits our run scoring.
To that I say simply - not true.
The K plays at a shade over 8% above average as a run scoring environment. Yes, it plays 12% below average as a HR park, but it plays 3% above average as a base hit park, almost 6% above average as a doubles park and 52% (yes, fifty two percent) above average as a triples park. It's basically a wash as a walks park (.993, so just a touch under league average). Basically, even if you aren't hitting the ball over the fence, you're getting a few more base hits and more of those hits are ending up as doubles and triples.
I ran the Royals schedule from last year against the park factors listed on ESPN.com to determine what the "average" offense would have done against the Royals schedule. This would factor in the 81 games at the K plus the games around the AL and NL parks. I will admit this method is flawed in that it cannot take into consideration who was pitching on a given day. Playing in Tampa against David Price is different than facing Tampa against Hellickson. I can't figure out a way to flesh that out in the numbers. There are smarter numbers people among us that may be able to do that. I do have my spreadsheet set up so that I can add in the numbers from this year as the season progresses to give us an idea of whether or not the Royals are putting up average numbers this year.
Anyway, on to the numbers.
If the Royals had been an average offense last year, they would have scored 734 runs on 1443 hits, 160 home runs, 287 doubles, 28 triples and 502 walks. A couple things jump out at me immediately. First, the Royals had EXACTLY as many hits as they should have had last season. The numbers said 1443.277. The Royals had 1443 hits. How crazy is that?
Second, the Royals really are terrible with plate discipline and it really does kill them. They basically missed out on 80 baserunners by any metric. That's 1 base runner every other game (which is probably 1 run every 6-8 games. Just an absolute killer.
Third, the only category the Royals were above average in was triples. The Royals hit 34 last year. The park factors say they should have hit 28. Some of those 80 base runners would be useful for a team hitting more triples than average.
Finally, the Royals fall well short not only in home runs (48 short), but more importantly, in doubles. The Royals should have hit 287 doubles, 8 more than average. Instead, they hit 25 less than average. Just about everyone on the Royals team can score from 2nd. Quite a few players on the team can score from first on a double. Except the Royals missed out on 33 doubles last year. Fewer guys on second. Fewer guys scoring from first.
All of that equals 86 runs left on the table last year. That's 8-9 wins. Put it another way - that's the ENTIRE gap between the Royals and Tigers last season. An average offense makes the Royals division champs. Average!