When you think of offensive philosophy, specifically that of the Kansas City Royals, you come to certain conclusions about their strategy:
1. Put the ball in play
The Royals are second in all of Major League Baseball in batting average (.272), behind the Detroit Tigers (.275). This has been an aspect of Kansas City's offensive approach for the past three seasons; forcing the defense to make more plays on batted balls was a hallmark of their 2014 campaign.
2. Swing all the time
The Royals are dead last in the majors in walk percentage (5.7%), beneath the Phillies (who randomly employ Jeff Francoeur), the Brewers (who are 22.5 games out of first in the NL Central), and the Marlins (who just lost Giancarlo Stanton until August).
3. Don't strike out
One-quarter of the time the Houston Astros step to the plate, the at-bat ends in a strikeout. They lead the majors atg 25.0%, yet they drive the ball out of the ballpark (they also lead the majors with 112 home runs), so who cares? The Royals, on the other hand, are last in strikeout percentage. Or first, depending on how you sort the chart. The point is, they don't do it, which is supposed to be good. Yet the idea of the Royals swinging more often seems implausible to me, like trying to squeeze lemon juice out of a car battery.
4. Try not to hit home runs
Sure, it might be nice, every once in a while, to see the ball leave the park. But that's not really what we're here for. The April power surge was nice and all, but it didn't really feel like "Royals baseball," you know? Thankfully, they have fallen off hard, and are now tied with the Pirates for 26th with 56 roundies. The Cobb County Barves (44) have less than the Phillies (48), which again, is Jeff Francoeur's fault (5 HR).
5. Play good defense
Of all the teams that played defense last year (30 of them, the last time I checked), the Royals were fourth in Defense and first in the American League, nearly fifteen Runs better than the "How are they beating us this sucks we had the best team in the American League gaawd" Baltimore Orioles.
5. Steal bases
Though it hasn't particularly been a thing this year, with the precipitous falloff in slugging the Royals have seen in the past six weeks, you might expect to see more steals in the immediate future. The double steal against Oakland, for instance. Or the fact that Omar Infante stole a base last weekend. They did steal seven against Oakland in last year's Wild Card, and led the majors in stolen bases in 2014, and in 2013.
The Royals have a lot of players that fit these characteristics, but there is always something glaringly obvious about them that makes them stand out as not quite fitting the Vitruvian ideal. Salvador Perez doesn't walk or strike out, but he hits way too many home runs. Jarrod Dyson only has four career home runs, but he walks way too much (career 8.4% walk rate). Alcides Escobar is pretty close, but even he has five home runs the past two seasons, and doesn't steal quite enough.
No, the most Royal of Royals currently playing baseball just doesn't play for the Royals. He plays for Miami, and his name is Dee Gordon.
You want no home runs? Dee Gordon has five* in his career, spanning 1,650 plate appearances.
*He hit an inside the park home run on June 30th.
You want low walks? His career walk rate is 4.7%. This year, it is at 2.9%.
But it's okay, because he still gets on base by putting the ball in play. He is slashing .350/.369/.433 while hitting 59.1% ground balls. He hits over three-and-a-half ground balls per fly ball, and his line drive percentage for his career is 22.1. This year, over eighty-four percent of the balls Dee Gordon has put in play have been categorized as something other than a fly ball.
Oh yeah, he steals bases all of the time as well. He has 26 in 2015, which would have put him fourth on last year's Royals squad. Except last year he stole 64 bases, 28 more than team leader Jarrod "Speedy Doo" Dyson and 33 more than Alcides "I played every game last season unlike Jarrod who actually stole a lot of bases considering he only had 290 plate appearances in 120 games" Escobar.
And Dee Gordon plays defense.
A lot of defense.
Like, too much defense.
Interesting side note: All of those plays have happened in the past ten days.
He's also the son of former Kansas City Royal Tom "Flash" Gordon, who spent eight years in Kansas City, which also happened to be the first eight years that Dee was alive.
The Royals could use some help at second. Why not get the Royaliest Royal of them all?