The Royals have played six games this season. They have been shut out in three of them. They are collectively batting .155, the worst in baseball by nearly 50 points. They have the 2nd worst on-base percentage in baseball, despite being 13th in baseball in walks.
Kansas City has simply been ice-cold at the plate. Bobby Witt Jr. is hitting .095, MJ Melendez .111, Vinnie Pasquantino .118, Franmil Reyes .083, Nicky Lopez .111.
Ol’ reliable Salvador Perez is hitting a modest .263 and Matt Duffy went scorched earth in his first two games, recording five hits in seven at-bats, but aside from that, it’s been a whole lot of outs.
But in a weird way, the icy start at the plate leaves room for optimism. These guys are not that bad! They are 9th in all of baseball in hard hit percentage and 27th in soft hit percentage. That’s pretty similar to last season. The biggest difference is that collectively, Royals batters are hitting .189 when they put the ball in play! That’s last in baseball by a mile. Last season, they hit .293.
And further, they have the 9th best BB% in all of baseball at 10.2%. Last season, they finished 20th at 7.7%. Kansas City has looked lost at the plate at times, to be sure. But they aren’t doing all terrible things. Surely, the hits will begin to fall.
The real question is who will be at the plate when it starts to happen, because this new coaching staff really likes to mix it up. The Royals have played six games with six different, unique lineups. Last night, they had a first baseman in left field and a catcher in right field. Today, they have a first baseman in right field and a third baseman in centerfield.
And while the offense has struggled, the pitching staff has been quietly strong, including former Oriole, Ranger, Brewer, Pirate, Padre, Rockie, and Astro Jordan Lyles who takes the mound today. Kansas City has the 11th best ERA in baseball through six games, with a much improved walk rate. Last year, the Royals walked nearly 10% of the batters they faced, and this season, they are walking less than 9%. The Reds were the only team in baseball to walk batters at a higher rate than Kansas City, and so far this season, the Royals are in the middle of the pack.
Lyles was solid in his first start, giving up just one earned run across 5.1 innings. Although his xERA for the game was a whopping 8.04, but we’ll choose to ignore that. On the other side is another former Oriole in Kevin Gausman, who was an agent of bad luck in his first start of the season, taking a loss to the Cardinals without giving up a single earned run.
Here are your lineups for today’s game:
Jordan Lyles heads to the mound for the final game of the series and the homestand.#WelcomeToTheCity pic.twitter.com/9OcYBpXPm7— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) April 6, 2023
Let's Geaux win the series #NextLevel pic.twitter.com/WfSduGpaaf— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) April 6, 2023