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Royals Rumblings - News for April 27, 2016

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We all need to get out of this slump.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Royals Rumblings - News for April 27, 2016

David Lesky at Baseball Prospectus Kansas City looks at why the offense has struggled thus far.

There are two explanations for why the Royals have struggled to score runs when it seems like they should be doing at least a little bit better. They both relate to sequencing. That’s a big topic we talk about a lot with this team since they don’t hit for a ton of power (though they do get their fair share of extra base hits as evidenced by their slugging percentage rank the last two seasons). The Royals don’t get a lot of help from the long ball, so they have to string hits together. In 2015, it worked for them. In 2014 (4th in average, 15th in OBP, 19th in SLG with 4 runs per game), it didn’t really.

So why hasn’t the sequencing worked for them this year? The biggest reason, to me, is probably the most obvious one. Look up and down the lineup at who is hitting well this year and who isn’t. The leadoff man is doing poorly, the second hitter is doing well, the third hitter is doing poorly, the fourth hitter is doing well, the fifth hitter is doing poorly and the sixth hitter has already been hot and cold this season. It’s tough to sustain rallies when every other spot in the lineup is filled by a struggling hitter. It’s not impossible, obviously, but it can certainly cause some problems

Sam Mellinger looks at the offensive struggles of Lorenzo Cain.

One other thing: he’s hitting the ball in the air more than he has in the past. A huge part of his game has been infield hits — only five players in the American League had more last year — so fewer ground balls means fewer chances to win with his legs. His batting average on balls in play (.267) is 80 points lower than last year, which was essentially right on his career average. That’s an indication of bad luck, or an expression of how more fly balls are hurting him or, more likely, a little of both.

We’re getting close to the point in the season where cries of "but small sample size!" start to lose their luster. I don’t think it’s worth worrying over right now, particularly since the Royals continue to win, but there are some subtle changes here that are worth keeping an eye on. I’ve always believed in Cain, and think his numbers will be fine, but still. It’s not nothing.

The Royals are still a team that refuses to shift defensively.

Only four teams in baseball -- the Marlins, Mets, Tigers and Red Sox -- have shifted fewer times this season than the Royals. "We do if it warrants it," Royals manager Ned Yost said. And that isn't often. According to fangraphs.com, the Royals have shifted for 82 batters this season. The Astros, who shift more than anyone, have shifted for 296 batters. Yost isn't really that interested in what other teams do.

"That's their deal," Yost said. "Not our deal. "We just do our homework. I don't know how anyone else does it. We'll shift but it's only on guys that (coach Mike Jirschele) thinks we need to shift."

Luke Hochevar has done a great job as the fireman in the pen.

"It’s like anything else," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It’s experience. When we put him in the pen, all of a sudden he started having success just full-bore attacking. He realized, ‘Hey, my stuff is good enough. In any situation, I can come in an attack and gets guys out.’ "

Danny Duffy has learned to love his fastball again.

Royals fans are very confident in the job Dayton Moore is doing.

Mike Sweeney is apparently quite a barber.

Tim Raines and Andre Dawson are among those to be honored in Kansas City this summer by the Negro League Baseball Museum.

Still time to vote for Kauffman Stadium in the Sports on Earth stadium contest.

Twins rookie Byron Buxton gets demoted, but that's not so unusual for great players.

Are statheads the best free agent bargain in baseball?

Ranking each team's bobblehead giveaways.

Who are the early favorites for the American League Cy Young Award?

The Raiders may be headed to Las Vegas soon.

Female sportswriters listen to mean tweets about them to show the nature of online harassment.

Skip Bayless is leaving ESPN.

Why is Goldman Sachs opening an online bank?

Apple suffers its first quarterly sales decline in 13 years.

The 50 best TV duos of all time.

Your song of the day is Gogol Bordello with "Faro Baro."