Game 35 Open Thread - Kansas City Royals (16-18) vs. Seattle Mariners (18-16)

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Grass Creek! Boo Cano! Bob Dutton! Willie Bloomquist! So much is at stake in this rivalry.

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The Royals are on pace to hit 71 home runs. That is ridiculous. Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire each hit more than that alone in a single, steroid-induced season. Only two Royals teams in franchise history have hit fewer home runs - the strike shortened 1981 team (61 dingers in 103 games) and the 1976 Royals (65 dingers, but 90 wins!). Only 21 teams in the expansion (post-1961) era have hit that few in a full season (only six of them were in the American League), the last being the 1991 St. Louis Cardinals, who were led by Todd Zeile's 11 round-trippers.

Fewest Home Runs, American League Teams 1961-2013 (not including strike-shortened 1981 season)

Year Team Home Runs
1975 California Angels 55
1972 Texas Rangers 56
1976 California Angels 63
1976 Kansas City Royals 65
1967 Kansas City Athletics 69
1966 Kansas City Athletics 70
1968 Chicago White Sox 71
1976 Chicago White Sox 73
1968 Cleveland Indians 75
1992 Kansas City Royals 78

For several years the Mariners were noted as a club that could not hit the ball out of the ballpark once Griffey and A-Rod had moved on. From 2002-2012, the Mariners never finished higher than tenth in the league in home runs. Then last year, they finished second. How?

Most of the improvement seems to stem from three players. First, Raul Ibanez replaced a hodge-podge of dreck in left-field, and enjoyed a sensational age 41 season, slamming 29 home runs. Second, Kendry Morales replaced Jesus Montero and produced nine more home runs. Third, Mike Morse replaced what was left of Ichiro Suzuki for an addition of nine more home runs. Jason Bay and Franklin Gutierrez also provided a bit more pop than the club received in 2012.

So its not that unfathomable to turn your home run numbers around in short time, even in a spacious park like Safeco Field or Kauffman Stadium. It should be pointed out that despite the dramatic increase in home runs in Seattle, they went from 14th to 12th in runs scored? Why? They were still an abysmal team at getting on base.

Jason Vargas against Brandon Maurer tonight, hope you love low scoring games!

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