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Royal Ups And Downs: Losing Streak Edition

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Chronicling the highs and lows of the Royals roster.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

SS - Alcides Escobar -

nope

Since last we met--and discussed the positions players--and, oh my, it had been awhile, Ned/Frank/whatever we're calling him these days seems to have reverted to using one of fast-ish dudes at the top of the order rather than Gordon. It's a small quibble, I guess, since the Royals are still in first place, but putting a guy with a career .300 OBP at the spot that gets the most PAs seems weird to me humans who have not played the game at this level.

Alcides is hitting exactly like Alcides, only with a batting average a tick lower than last season and a lower strikeout rate. If anything, he's actually been a bit unlucky at the plate, and generally been himself in the field.

3B - Mike Moustakas -

Ups

Moustakas's Isoated Power (SLG minus BA) is .151 this season. It was .149 last year. His walk rate, while increased from April, is actually down. The difference in hitting lines is entirely where the ball is falling when Moustakas puts it in play; last season he sunk to almost-impossible-looking .220 BABIP, this year he's sailing at .352.

So, we know he's going to lose some of that, but how much? Moustakas hasn't hugely increased his line drives, and he's actually popping up more often than last season. Fangraphs also doesn't have him hitting the ball "hard" more often. The difference, so far, apart from the obvious BABIP kick, is Moustakas using more of the field. People have noted this a lot on here, and now almost two months of data still shows it to be true. For his career, Moustakas's batted ball data is a 45.2%-31.8%-23% split, where the first number is pulling the ball, second is contact up the middle, and the third is opposite field. This year? So far he's at 34.4-29.8-35.8, so he's actually using the opposite field more than any other field.

This does not make him immune to regression, but if he keeps spraying the ball to all fields, color me skeptical that that his BABIP drops to his career average (.268). Moustakas is a not a perfect hitter, by any means, but he seems to be becoming a more well-rounded one.

CF - Lorenzo Cain -

Ups

Speaking of guys who have high BABIPs but also have just become better hitters, Cain is probably the poster child for that on the Royals. It took Cain awhile--he's 29 this year--but he's on track to once again by a 5 fWAR player by the end of the season. He smacks line drives and grounders, the former of which he usually hits hard (fangraphs has only 12% of his contact as "soft," a career low), the latter of which usually give him a chance to leg something out, he plays very good and sometimes outright ridiculous defense, he runs the bases well. His BABIP is now only .009 higher than his career average, so maybe Cain is just pretty darn good.

1B - Eric Hosmer -

Ups

Hosmer continues to hit well, and, with there now being only five days left in May, it seems safe to declare his traditional slow start "completely avoided." Hosmer, currently at .305/.378/.511, is probably more likely than these other guys to have a BABIP correction at first glance...and then you realize that 27.7% of his batted balls are line drives. I could cite a bunch of other stuff, but it'd basically just serve to make the same point: he's hit the shit out of the baseball this season whenever a pitcher's dared to give him something to hit.

DH - Kendrys Morales -

Ups

The bubble still hasn't popped for Morales, and we might well wonder if he's just installed some nice carpeting and decided to live in there. It feels weird to give so many of the hitters up arrows coming off a sweep, but it's made me realize--again--how good (and fortunate, to some extent) the majority of this line-up has been. Raise your hand if you thought the line-up would be carrying the rotation.

Anyway, Morales continues to prove that his only real crime was badly, badly misreading his market last season, as he's basically hitting at career averages with the typical Royals BABIP Bump(tm). Keep it up, Kendrys!

LF - Alex Gordon -

kaboom

On the one other hand, maybe it's hard to be too mean to frank about Gordon dropping down in the order: after a .303/.425/.500 April, Gordon has come back to earth with a .234/.318/.390 May. The funny thing about the recent dip is that he's hitting as many line drives as Morales and Hoz; he's hit the crap out of the ball two, just had worse luck with where it goes. Still, the "slump" warrants the down arrow because of the big drop off, and the early returns on his fielding numbers suggest this is one of his "good" years not one of his "oh my gold how could you give the Gold Glove to anyone else?" years.

But no, .266/.369/.441 is nothing to be disappointed by. Still, I'm expecting that line to come up when hits begin falling for Alex again.

C - Salvador Perez -

nope

No one needs to be super-upset about this in light of Perez's other contributions--good defense, good pop, above average contact for a catcher especially--but, since we're here and his hitting line is largely unchanged, let's talk about those "walk" things for a sec. Perez has now walked all of 4 times (one intentional) in almost two months. He finished with 22 free passes last year, so he's actually managed to drop his walk rate this season, which is damn impressive. The last person who walked him was Raisel Iglesias, who has walked a batter every other inning this season. That, to date, is the only time Perez took a free pass this month.

2B - Omar Infante -

nope

Infante's standards were set so low over the first month of the season that the last three weeks that have led to a .245/.255/.340 can't even be considered below that standard. I'm not even sure what else to say about Royals secondbasemen anymore, so here's a large band-aid:

RF - Paulo Orlando -

kaboom

If you're a lefty-masher who doesn't hit lefties for a month or so, it's likely to be a bad month. Orlando has "hit" .236/.250/.309 since April ended. That's positively Infantile.

IF - Christian Colon

nope

Only played twice since the 10th. Colon's been decent in limited playing time this year.

OF - Jarrod Dyson

kaboom

His two hits against the Yankees last night broke an 0-for-15 stretch. No matter how fast you are or how good your defense is, it's tough to compensate for a .206/.242/.286 battling line. Ouch.