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Putting the Royals’ offensive explosion in context

One streak does not a good offense make, but...

Kansas City Royals v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

The offensive struggles of April are behind the Royals for now (for good?), and May has seen an explosion in run production that we have not seen in quite some time. It’s fun to see the team get hot, but the question of how good the streak has been can sometimes tell you a lot about what the team really is offensively. A higher maximum is usually correlated with a higher average for a distribution, though not always since maximums by their nature are one-offs.

First off, how good has the Royals offense been? Over a ten-game stretch from April 30th to May 10th they scored 67 runs, and matched that in the ten games from May 2nd to May 11th. The last time a Royals team scored 67 or more runs in any 10 consecutive games was in 2017. There was a stretch of four consecutive rolling sums ending on games 100 through 103 for that year where their 10 game outputs were 68, 70, 75, and 76 runs. Outside of that stretch they never went above 65 for the rest of the season.

This offense, full of young players, has had the best 10-game stretch since the window on the World Series team was closing and a new stretch of under .500 seasons was dawning. Sometimes the offensive environment can skew results like this, so I did take a peek at that as well. So far in 2023 the league average is just over 4.5 runs per game. The 2017 team played in a similar environment of 4.65 runs per game. In the interim, only the 2022 team played in a significantly lower run scoring environment, and you would expect that to benefit this year’s team by about 3 runs per ten games based on the differential. The 2022 team’s max output in 10 games was 59, so if we give them 3 for that adjustment they still come up five runs short of what this team just did.

Now for the less fun, of course this is true because this is the Royals part. Scoring 67 runs in a ten game stretch is extremely good for this franchise over the past half decade. Relative to the rest of the MLB, it is not at all impressive. Last year the best ten game stretch for each team was on average 68 runs, so what the Royals just did is below the average of last year’s team maximums, the lowest run scoring environment in recent memory. I will give the team some credit for doing it in May since offensive output league wide gets better as you get into the hotter parts of the season, but they need to repeat this stretch again or exceed it to really be performing adequately relative to the rest of the league. Only 11 teams had a maximum 10 game output of less than 67 runs last season (12 if you include the Royals), and the Guardians had exactly 67 as their max.

Overall, it was nice to see the Royals start hitting the ball and winning a few more games, until the Brewers held them to 9 runs this weekend that is. Even when the Royals bats are really raking, it looks like all they are is average. I will be hoping for a repeat of this performance a couple more times this season, and maybe push that peak output even higher. They don’t even need to hit more than they did this time, just not strand so many runners. Their base runs standings have them 16 runs and 5 wins better than what we have seen so far based on typical scoring relative to their raw offensive production. It’s getting better, which it had to after that miserable April, but it is hopefully not as good as it can get.