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Ups and Downs: The End Approaches Edition

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Struggle on, dear Royals.

Tampa Bay Rays v Kansas City Royals
Eric Hosmer won’t stop being excited just because the team is slumping.
Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Anything is in play for the Royals right now from the first Wild Card - don’t laugh! - all the way down to a losing season. Every game from this point on is essentially a must-win game. The Royals could get hot, maybe the last two wins are the spark. But I know I’ve been saying that for weeks now, after pretty much every win. It hasn’t happened yet. But then, neither has one of the other contenders getting hot. So I say again: someone has to get hot; why not the Royals?

The last time we did the offense in this space the Royals were slumping but still well within striking distance. The point was made that while the pitching had been bad the offense was keeping the slump from getting too bad. If the pitching could recover, it was reasoned, the team could get good again. The pitching did not recover and the offense took a nose-dive of its own.

This time we’ll cover the period from August 13 - September 9, which includes the near-MLB-record-setting scoreless inning streak. It should come as no surprise then that most of the numbers to follow, courtesy of FanGraphs, won’t be pretty.

Incomplete

OF Terrance Gore - Key Stats: 1 PA, 0 SB, 1 R

Terrance Gore finally got used as a pinch runner on the final game in this period. It was for Lorenzo Cain which was pretty odd and he didn’t even steal a base. He did score the go-ahead run on an Eric Hosmer ground ball single, though.

OF Jorge Soler - Key Stats: 2 PA, 1 BB

Even with the offense mired in a terrible slump Soler has only round his way into games as a fill-in for a blowout. He does have a walk and no strikeouts

IF Raul Mondesi - Key Stats: 2 H, 4 AB

Raul found his way into some blowouts as well, he actually managed to grab a couple hits while he was at it, though. He raised his batting average to .171.

IF Ramon Torres - Key Stats: 4 G, 2 H

Ramon found his way into a couple of games as a defensive replacement for Moustakas who has been battle his injured leg for the entire second half of the season. Torres earned the opportunity because the King of Corn Island was battling an illness.

C Cameron Gallagher - Key Stats: 1 HR, 5 RBI, 11 PA

This actually covers the last two games Cameron got to start before Sal returned to the lineup which means this includes his game winning grand slam against the Athletics. Since he was called up for September he has three plate appearances in two different blowouts, collecting a single.

OF Paulo Orlando - Key Stats: 3 singles, 14 PA

Paulo has made his “triumphant” return. He’s even gotten to start a couple of games but has only 3 singles across a multitude of appearances and no walks or stolen bases.

C Drew Butera - Key Stats: 30 PA, 78 wRC+

Drew has gotten a couple games at first base because of blowouts, as well as a few starts for the ailing Perez. This period includes his first career 4-hit game, all singles, against the White Sox on August 13. He hasn’t had a hit since August 19, though.

3B Cheslor Cuthbert - Key Stats: 16.7 BB%, 109 wRC+

Cheslor has taken a bunch of walks and it has boosted his hitting profile pretty well. Unfortunately being ill while Moose missed a couple of games last week prevents him from getting enough plate appearances to show up outside the incomplete column. Still, a .367 OBP is a good thing to have even in small sample sizes.

Bad

C Salvador Perez - Key Stats: 3 HR, 15 K

Salvy has looked much better in the last week, collection 4 hits all of which went for extra bases including all three of his home runs. Before that he was 5-for-36 with no extra base hits and a strike out in every game except one - a game in which he was pulled early due to it being one of the all-too-common blowouts the Royals have endured, recently.

DH Brandon Moss - Key Stats: 3 HR, 12.5 BB%

Moss has an ISO over .200 and a double digit walk rate but when he isn’t hitting it over the fence or walking he’s making an out. The lack of singles or doubles - he has only three singles and one double in the last month - is what keeps him down here in the bad column.

OF Alex Gordon - Key Stats: 1 HR, 4.3 BB%

Alex stopped walking and looked abysmal for an entire month. He seemed to be flailing at everything, though his strike out rate was still a nearly reasonable 24.6%. He’s begun heating up during the Minnesota series collecting five hits including a pair of doubles and a home run. A number nine hitter who is not an automatic out would be a huge help for a team struggling to keep from being suffocated out of the playoffs.

OF Melky Cabrera - Key Stats: 1 HR, 12.5 K%, .276 AVG

Melky isn’t striking out much, but he’s not doing anything else either. He was acquired to strengthen and lengthen the Royals’ lineup; he has been doing mediocre things instead. Mediocre things would be an upgrade if he was lower in the order and replacing Gordon or Moss in the lineup. Instead he’s right in the middle and replacing Bonifacio.

OF Jorge Bonifacio - Key Stats: 82 wRC+, 10 starts

Jorge hasn’t been great but he’s still been the best option at corner outfield/designated hitter and still only has 10 starts. The first half of this stretch he was really hot but he has only two hits in his last 13 at-bats, both singles. It’s unclear why he can’t seem to get in the lineup considering the struggles of everyone else but he figures to get plenty of opportunities next season.

2B Whit Merrifield - Key Stats: 9 SB, 86 wRC+, 4 HR

Whit has been struggling a bit since his incredibly hot July. The bad news is that it’s helped contribute to the offensive woes, overall. The good news is that even while he’s struggling he’s managed an 86 wRC+. That’s a number you could live with - especially if it represents a down month - from a middle infielder if the rest of the offense was participating. It’s a good sight better than Omar Infante did for the Royals. Whit does have a seven-game hitting streak so maybe he’s heating back up.

3B Mike Moustakas - Key Stats: 2 HR, .722 OPS

Moose is finally cold. He seems to have changed his approach a bit. It’s unclear if this is because pitchers are pitching him differently or because of the injury, but he’s pulling far fewer balls now than he was at the beginning of the season. He’s also walking a lot more probably because he has absolutely no protection in the lineup as he is commonly followed by Escobar or Moss and no one is afraid of either batter.

Good

SS Alcides Escobar - Key Stats: .333 AVG, 6.5 K%, 4.3 BB%

Despite striking fear in the hearts of no one Esky has been hitting so much better the last 30 days - though we normally only count the last 28 here - that he actually has been worth almost a full win by fWAR. You would think that a hot Esky and a not-automatic-out Gordon would be worth a decent lineup. That should tell you just how bad the rest of the team has been.

CF Lorenzo Cain - Key Stats: 140 wRC+, .495 SLG, 10.8 K%

Cain is barely striking out and hitting for quite a bit of power with eight extra base hits since the middle of August. He has only three stolen bases and it seems as though he is dealing with leg soreness or injury because Ned immediately pinch ran for him Saturday night.

1B Eric Hosmer - Key Stats: 5 HR, .381 AVG, 1.075 OPS, 189 wRC+

Hosmer has been otherworldly for four straight weeks, now. He has 10 multi-hit games, including a pair of three-hit games. He has failed to reach base in a game only twice. He’s only striking out 18% of the time while walking a whopping 16% of the time. He is reaching base in nearly half of his plate appearances with a .480 OBP. He is doing everything he can to carry this lineup all it would take is a little bit more help and this offense could really be special again.

The Royals aren’t quite finished yet, but this segment is. There won’t be time to do another monthly assessment of the Royals hitters before the end of the season, though there should be one more chance to do the pitching. Even if the Royals make the playoffs there will be other things to write that will be far less of a downer than this article has been, today.