The Royals have slumped out of the gate with the worst run-scoring offense in baseball, averaging just 2.9 runs-per-game. They will almost certainly heat up at some point and improve upon that, but even with some regression to the mean, they will likely be in the bottom half of the league in runs scored. And this is not new territory for them.
Since their inception in 1969, the Royals have never led the league in runs scored. In 49 seasons, they have finished in the top half of the league in runs scored just 16 times - half of those seasons coming in the 1970s. They have finished in the bottom three in runs scored 19 times, including last year.
If you take a look at all team offensive numbers since 1969, you see the Royals are tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for dead last among teams that have played primarily in the American League in runs scored per game with just 4.4 per game.
The Royals are dead last among all teams in home run rate, dead last in walk rate, but they have also struck out less than any other team in baseball over that time. The Cincinnati Reds are the only team that has stolen more bases, and the Royals have the fifth-best success rate swiping bases.
None of this should be a surprise to Royals fans who are used to a low-walk, low-power, slappy, high-contact speedy team that can fly around the bases. For years, the ballpark has been blamed for suppressing Royals offensive numbers due to its deep alleys. It is true that Kauffman Stadium is a difficult place to hit home runs, but in recent years it has played as an offensively neutral ballpark.
Last year, only four ballparks saw more runs scored despite Kauffman finishing near the bottom of baseball in home runs hit. This is because of those deep alleys and spacious outfield, which allows more balls to fall for hits, allows singles to turn into doubles, and doubles to turn into triples. Kauffman has also been seen higher walk totals and lower strikeout rates, with hitters crediting the batter's eye in centerfield and comfortable hitting background.
Historically, the Royals hitting woes have carried over to the road as well. Even on the road, they hit fewer home runs than any other American League club, and draw fewer walks and score fewer runs than any team in baseball since 1969. While Kauffman Stadium may not be directly responsible for those numbers, it no doubt has impacted how management has built their team, focusing on speedy-light hitting defense-first players.
However there was an era in which the Royals were one of the top offenses in baseball - the 1970s. From 1972 to 1980, they finished in the top five in runs scored in eight of nine seasons. From 1971 to 1979 they were either first or second in the league in doubles hit every single season. They were top three in steals every year from 1974 to 1980.
They had some sluggers like Big John Mayberry and George Brett, but the club was still near the bottom of the league in home runs. But the big difference between those clubs and the modern Royals was those teams weren't averse to drawing a walk. The Royals actually led the league in walks in 1972! Mayberry led the league in free passes in 1973 as the club finished second overall. The team dipped a bit in walks during their greatest years - 1976-1978 when they won three consecutive division titles. But they weren't dead last in walks either.
The organization has always emphasized "pitching and defense, pitching and defense" in response to the ballpark. It is true that "defense doesn't take slumps", but without scoring runs, the Royals are finding it can still be very difficult to win. Perhaps one day we will another offensive juggernaut in Kauffman Stadium - hey, all it took in the 70s was a once-in-a-generation Hall of Fame talent! But my guess is the Royals will continue to be one of the worst offenses in baseball. They'll just have to find ways to win despite their lineup.