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A few interesting facts about the Royals offense

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A bulleted list of cute little factoids with some ...speculation.

Evidence of contaminated wood.
Evidence of contaminated wood.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Good morrow to you all. The Royals blew the game last night against a starting pitcher whose last name reminds me of either this or this. I can't tell. In part, I blame the fact that 6 straight Royals pitchers threw 0.2 innings. Seriously, look at the box score. It's kind of hilarious. Anyway, in lieu of actual, thoughtful, interesting content presented in paragraph form, I will present to you actual, thoughtful, interesting content in bullet point form.

  • We all like to deride the Royals for their propensity to swing and get themselves into bad counts. I was perusing the Royals' Baseball Reference page, and I found the 1st pitch swing/take table. Here's how the Royals compare to the league at swinging at the first pitch:

1st Pitch Swing 1st Pitch Take
League 27.4% 72.6%
Royals 25.3% 74.7%

Those Royals actually swing less at the first pitch than the league. I can surmise a few reasons for this. One, they're nervous up there at the plate until they see a ball fly by them at roughly 90mph, after which it's all rainbows and cupcakes. Two, the team is making a conscious effort to control their free-swinging ways (HAHA!), but only on the first pitch. Three, random variation.

  • The Royals are a terrible, awful, hide-your-eyes kind of offense during the Sonic Slam inning. Behold, another table.

BA OBP SLG HR sOPS+
0.217 0.264 0.297 6 57

This is the Royals' offensive production during the 6th inning. You know, that inning when they're essentially playing for charity. That sOPS+ number there means that the Royals' OPS number compared to the league is 43% below average. I think there are a few reasons for this. One, they hate hot dogs. Alex Gordon refused to get hot dogs in Oakland with Friend Yost, and now the whole team hates them. Sonic sells hot dogs. Two, they hate charity (DISCLAIMER: I am not claiming that the Royals hate charity). Four, the Royals are just bad at hitting home runs, and this inning got thwomped by the random variation bat.

  • The Royals have a reverse TTOP (Times-through-the-order-penalty). The research goes that as a lineup sees the starting pitcher more, offensive production improves. Google it, if you like. The Royals don't do that.

BA OBP SLG sOPS+
1st time, SP 0.270 0.314 0.384 106
2nd time, SP 0.267 0.310 0.385 96
3rd time, SP 0.272 0.318 0.390 88

The Royals don't really get worse. They just don't get better like the rest of the league does. The team showed a similar pattern in 2012. This wasn't really a problem in 2011 or 2013, though. Odds and evens I guess. I can think of a few reasons for this. First, the Royals really like the faces of the other teams' starting pitchers, so they like to see them as much as possible. Concurrently, the Royals don't like the faces of relievers. Second, the Royals' hitters don't make adjustments; the other teams' pitchers do. Third, the team starts thinking about the postgame spread as soon as the first time through the order is finished.

  • The Royals do not do well against ground ball pitchers (as defined by Baseball Reference).

BA OBP SLG sOPS+
Royals 0.237 0.290 0.340 84
League 0.252 0.317 0.369

This was a problem last year as well but not in 2012. There are a few reasons that this is bad. First, the Royals are partially built on speed, so you would think the Royals would at least be average. Second, the league is trending toward more ground ball pitchers. There will be more of those guys coming. Third, the Royals hit a lot of ground balls; they rank fairly high in GB%. I can think of a few reasons for this poor production. One, the new parking policies during Chiefs games hamper the Royals' grounders. Two, something about an imperfect shipment of Yellawood contaminating the Royals' bats. Three, not enough coffee. Multiple requests for a clubhouse Keurig have reportedly been denied. The team cited a concern over the plastic-y taste and a lack of vinegar to descale the thing.

Get your playoff tickets now, I guess.

All data from Baseball Reference. Data current as of 9/16/2014.