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Scoring Runs Has Never Been a 'Royals' Thing

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The Royals struggle to score runs in the majors and, more often than not, struggle in the minors as well.

The Royals continue to hit the wall when it comes to discovery the secret to scoring runs.
The Royals continue to hit the wall when it comes to discovery the secret to scoring runs.

Last night, your Kansas City Royals managed to plate just three runs despite rapping out 12 hits and adding in a couple of walks as well. As it has been all season, 10 of the 12 hits were singles. It has become an all too familiar scenario.

Despite ranking sixth in the American League in batting average, the Royals are 13th in runs scored. Sure, they keep track of hits on the scoreboard and on the back of baseball cards, but seemingly the winner and loser of a given baseball game is determined by runs scored. That Kansas City is just 11th in on-base percentage and 15th in slugging (that is last for those of you keeping score at home) is likely of no surprise to anyone.

Nor should it come as surprise that this pattern is nothing new.

Last season, the Royals were fourth in batting average, but finished 12th in runs scored thanks to being only 9th in OBP and 10th in slugging. In 2011, the trend broke for shining moment in time as Kansas City was fourth in average, fifth in on-base percentage and sixth in runs scored. Heck, they were even fifth in slugging that year. Sadly, 2011 was the outlier, as the 2010 Royals finished 10th in runs scored despite being 2nd in batting average. They were 13th in runs in 2009 and 12th in 2008, when they were 6th in average.

While we all are aware that there is no high profile offensive help anywhere near the majors down on the farm, take a look at the offensive league rankings of the Royals' four top farm clubs thus far in 2013:

Level Runs Scored Batting Avg On-base Pct Slugging
AAA (16 team league) 14 13 14 14
AA (8 team league) 8 8 8 8
Hi-A (8 team league) 8 7 8 8
Low-A (14 team league) 14 14 14 14

These are raw numbers, which don't take into account park factors. Those certainly have an effect on hitting numbers particularly in Hi-A Wilmington (although that is not the only nasty hitters park in the Carolina League) and, while Omaha is a good place to hit, it is not the launching pad that several other Pacific Coast League teams call home. Can we use that as an excuse to basically be awful in every category and, in most cases, the WORST in three of the four levels?

Let's take a look at the affiliates' runs scored rank the previous five seasons. The first number will be the team's rank and the second the total number of teams in the league:

Level 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
AAA 6/16 9/16 9/16 12/16 12/16
AA 6/8 4/8 1/8 2/8 7/8
Hi-A 7/8 7/8 5/8 7/8 8/8
Low-A 14/16 16/16 15/16 12/14 6/14

As you know, Low-A currently plays in Lexington, but spent the 2011 and 2012 seasons in Kane County and the seasons before that in Burlington, Iowa. In 2010, the year before Kane County became a Royals' affiliate, that team finished 6th out of 16 teams in runs scored and this year, Kane County is currently 9th. Burlington, after the Royals left for Kane County, finished 7th in runs scored in 2011 and 10th in 2012.

It is not exact as they did not move as a complete unit at identical intervals through the minors, but you can almost track the journey of Mike Moustakas, Johnny Giavotella, David Lough and Clint Robinson (eventually joined or just ahead of Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers) through the farm system by the runs scored ranking of each affiliate.

While the impact of ballpark effects should not be discounted (especially in Wilmington) with the exception of one core group of prospects which, as of right now, has yet to blossom on the major league level or even stay with the organization, Dayton Moore's ability to draft and develop offense has to be questioned.

What these numbers really solidify is the need for the Royals to go out and find offense. No one in the minor league system is hitting like Johnny Giavotella did coming up (including Johnny himself) and Giavotella has yet to and likely never will translate his minor league career into hitting on the major league level.

Scoring runs is hard, but to the Kansas City organization, scoring runs is apparently rocket science.