Its always a little jarring when the All-Star break comes, but here it is, promising two very dull days, an occasionally compelling game, and lots of mid-season articles. Here's Part 1 of my look at the Royals, focusing on the offense.
Runs- 375 (27th in MLB): Our boys still hold an edge over the Astros (365), but you have to figure that that won't last too much longer. Pittsburgh also sits at 365 RS, and Royals-Pirates could stay a battle for 29th all season. Montreal/Washington looks like a safe bet to finish 30th however, already 18 runs behind the Royals at 357. (Lord help us if they stay in contention, as we'll be hit with endless articles praising "pitching and defense", the holy sacrifice bunt and the magic of RFK, all things we don't need.)
Home Runs- 66 (28th): Predictably terrible, and in jeopardy of getting worse. Seattle and Washington are right there at 65. Thank goodness we jettisoned Calvin Pickering. Can't we just face LimaTime once this season? Make the trade Allard.
Batting Average- .262 (19th): Hey, I thought Batting Average was the stat? 19th in average, but 27th in runs? Does not compute. Considering that the Royals are more or less built on average, and they aren't even good at it, its clear this isn't a good offensive team.
On-Base Percentage- .319 (tied 30th): Look, we can't hit for average and we don't have any power. You expect walks too? Insane. Thank you Angel, for a season of outs at the top of the lineup.
Slugging Percentage- .395 (29th): Seattle's breathing down our neck at .392. All we can hope for is that the Adrian Sexson combo continues to underacheive.
Stolen Bases & Stolen Base %- 28 (25th) & 55% (29th): Thank goodness for Washington (again) as only the Nats terrible 48% success-rate ranks worse than the Royals' own less than sterling 55% rate. Would it be too much to ask that the Royals be good at just one aspect of offense? Probably, it seems. By the way, generally speaking, one needs to be about 65% successful in order for the steal-play to be worthwhile... But you already knew that.
Sacrifices- 26 (18th): I expected this to be worse, but maybe the general lack of base-runners has made it difficult for Pena/Bell to call for sac bunts. I wonder if anyone's told Harold Reynolds that the Nats are last in runs and first in bunts? Surprisingly, the vaunted "small-ball" team on Chicago's South Side has only sacrificed 28 times.
Hit By Pitch- 34 (12th): I have no idea what this might or might not mean.
All in all, its clear that this isn't a good offensive team; however, the Royals aren't quite as bad at the plate as they've sometimes looked. The Pirates, Mariners and Nationals all might be safely considered worse offenses in fact, which is good when the standard for the season boils down to not being the worst team of all-time. However, there are imaginable scenarios in which the Nationals and Mariners improve -- as the Astros are already doing -- which leaves only the Pirates and Royals left on the dance-floor of despair, staring at one another and wondering who'll make the first move.
In the early days of Buddy, much was made of the Royals improved offense, which not surprisingly, was laregly batting-average/singles driven, and thus, the most given to chance. Still, given just how pathetically many regulars other than Sweeney had started, some improvement was foreseable. Further, there is some remote chance that DeJesus, Teahen, Buck, Gotay and Berroa could all improve, even greatly, on what they've done so far. Which is to say, even though our young players aren't particulary good, theres at least a chance of a performance spike that could be real and lasting, which isn't the case for someone like T-Long or, sadly, Emil Brown.