Last month when the Kansas City Royals were scuffling and considering selling at the deadline, one of the big refrains for why this was happening was the 'i' word - injuries. Injuries are always the terror in the night, and can ruin any club in any sport at any time regardless of talent. You do not want to make Mr. Injury angry. Mr. Injury will break out a crowbar and turn your knees into mush, and feel good doing it.
Unfortunately for the Royals, that reasoning just doesn't hold up. Yes, Kris Medlen, one of the supposed starters in the rotation, has more or less been out for the year. Yes, Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon's collision cost months of time to two All-Stars. Yes, Lorenzo Cain, Wade Davis, Mike Minor, and Kyle Zimmer have all gone on disabled list stints.
But the data - as it often does - squashes the notion that the Royals have been particularly injury-prone this year. Take a look at this list courtesy of Spotrac, which shows each team, their amount of players who went on the disabled list, and the amount of days lost to the disabled list.
|Los Angeles Dodgers||27||1,718|
|San Diego Padres||18||1,384|
|Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim||17||1,226|
|Boston Red Sox||18||1,073|
|New York Yankees||14||1,056|
|St. Louis Cardinals||16||1,050|
|San Francisco Giants||16||766|
|Chicago White Sox||13||757|
|Tampa Bay Rays||13||728|
|New York Mets||15||710|
|Toronto Blue Jays||14||634|
While not below the median, the Royals are below the league average in both players and days lost to the DL.
An important thing to consider here is that teams can still succeed if they get injured. Yes, some of the healthiest teams are doing very well--including the Cleveland Indians, Washington Nationals, and Houston Astros. But look at the Boston Red Sox, the Chicago Cubs, and definitely the Los Angeles Dodgers. They've all lost hundreds more days to injury, and yet they all have a better record than the Royals.
So no, injuries are not the biggest problem, and plenty of teams are in the same boat as the Royals.
Really, there's only one problem with this team. It's not the bullpen - the Royals have the best bullpen ERA in all of baseball. It's not the rotation - the Royals' rotation, though not flashy and not a team strength, has an ERA sitting at 17th of 30 teams. It's not defense - the Royals' defense once again is top three in MLB in both Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating.
It is the offense. The Royals are dead last in the American League in runs per game, and are 27th overall. They are bottom four in baseball in walk rate, isolated slugging percentage, and home runs.
It's even worse when you look at the stats. Here's a list of all Royals players with at least 10 plate appearances and their stats coming into this week:
There are 217 players in Major League Baseball that are league average (by wRC+) or better. The Royals have four of them. That's a lot of (very sad) data, so here are some quick hits:
- There are 135 players in Major League Baseball with an OPS of at least .800. The Royals have zero of them on their active roster.
- Of the 100 worst batters by OPS in Major League Baseball with at least 100 plate appearances, the Royals have used five of them.
It is very simple: the Royals have not had any great hitters this year at the same time as they have used some really bad ones. That is how you don't score points.
But, specifically, the Royals are floundering in one type of area: hitting right-handed pitching.
Look at last year's split vs. right and left-handed pitching:
- vs. RHP: .737 OPS
- vs. LHP: .728 OPS
- vs. RHP: .694
- vs. LHP: .761