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The Royals still project to be near the bottom of the league in home runs

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The new Royals’ power may look a lot like the old Royals’ power.

Mike Moustakas bats against the Rangers during Spring training.
Mike Moustakas is among several Royals with good projected power.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The stories are everywhere. Jorge Soler could break the Royals home run record. Brandon Moss might hit nearly 30 bombs. The Royals have as many as seven guys who are capable of smacking more than 20 dingers. The days of Jarrod Dyson and Whit Merrifield are over. The Royals aren’t young enough to hit and run anymore, now they need to take repeated trips to Dongtown.

This all sounds pretty good if you’re a big Royals fan and also a fan of home runs, which are among the more exciting plays in baseball and the only way to guarantee that an at-bat ends in scoring every time.

Here’s the thing, though. And I’m afraid you’re not going to like it.

Despite their recent power outburst, The Royals are actually projected to hit even fewer home runs this season than they hit, last season. Fewer than 2015, too. The good news is, they’re projected to hit way more than the power-starved 2014 team. How did a team that hit fewer than 100 home runs make it to the World Series? That’s crazy.

Anyway, everybody loves a good visualization, so here’s a table outlining the projected power for every team in the American League based on PECOTA. (Note: Home runs are the totals of the projected starting lineups, slugging percentage is the projected total of the entire team. Both stats are projected over the remainder of the season starting before Friday’s games)

PECOTA Power Projections

Team Projected HR Projected SLG
Team Projected HR Projected SLG
BAL 196 .433
SEA 178 .422
TOR 172 .433
DET 162 .425
MIN 162 .422
BOS 159 .431
TB 159 .409
HOU 157 .422
TEX 156 .425
CLE 153 .436
NYY 153 .415
LAA 144 .403
CHW 131 .402
KC 130 .398
OAK 129 .392

That’s the Royals down there at the bottom. Only the Oakland Athletics are expected to be even a little worse than the Royals, and just barely. You can also see that the Royals problems extend beyond the home run side of power, which could be suppressed by Kauffman Stadium. The extraordinarily low slugging percentage projection accounts for possible doubles and triples, as well.

Despite the predictions of some Royals pundits and fans, PECOTA doesn’t project a single Royals hitter to hit 20 home runs this year. Instead, it projects that Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, and Jorge Soler to tie for the team lead with 19. You could argue that at least Moose and Sal have shown they can hit more than 20 in a year. So let’s add 10 for them, total. That moves the Royals from 14th place in the American League all the way up to....13th place.

Royals HR Projections

Player PECOTA HRs Steamer HRs ZiPS Homers Average HRs
Player PECOTA HRs Steamer HRs ZiPS Homers Average HRs
Salvador Perez 19 19 20 19.33
Eric Hosmer 17 22 19 19.33
Raul Mondesi 8 5 ?? 6.50
Mike Moustakas 19 23 13 18.33
Alcides Escobar 5 4 6 5.00
Alex Gordon 16 15 16 15.67
Lorenzo Cain 11 11 9 10.33
Jorge Soler 19 15 12 15.33
Brandon Moss 18 24 22 21.33
Total 132 138 117 129.00

Say you hate PECOTA, that’s fine. Steamer and ZiPS are even lower on the Royals’ new power. If you combine the three systems you get an average projection of 129 total home runs from the Royals starting lineup. Unless the Royals continue to defy projection, it doesn’t look pretty.

You can nitpick at the numbers, if you want. Some of you probably think Eric Hosmer is more likely to hit 30 than 17. Maybe Alex Gordon breaks out and hits 22 instead of 16. At least one person thinks Brandon Moss will hit 29. But even if you assume all of the top sluggers - Gordon, Moustakas, Cain, Hosmer, Perez, Moss, Soler - hit 20 home runs this year, the team total still only projects to 153, which is only good enough to be tied for 11th place in the league. It would be a lot more home runs than the team has seen since 2009.

If you did want to criticize some of Royals projections, you should also question projections for other teams. Will Brian Dozier only hit 25 home runs? How about J.D. Martinez stopping at 20? You should probably bet the over on Carlos Correa’s 22 and George Springer’s 26 projected home runs, too.

No one knows yet if the Royals will win this year. It does seem a bit off that the Royals are projected to hit so few home runs. But power has spiked all over the league. Last year, more home runs were hit than in any season since 2000. Even with their new sluggers, the Royals would have massively out-pace the projections to be just an average team, power-wise. With players like Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, and Alex Gordon another year older and slower it doesn’t seem like they’re going to have the speed they once did either.

Poll

How many Royals will hit more than 20 home runs?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    0-1
    (22 votes)
  • 57%
    2-3
    (150 votes)
  • 28%
    4-5
    (74 votes)
  • 3%
    6-7
    (9 votes)
  • 1%
    8-9
    (5 votes)
260 votes total Vote Now