by John Viril—
The Kansas City Royals offense has come to life. The team has scored 41 runs in their last 6 games, after averaging a toothless 3.85 a game prior to this week. More importantly, the team has shown a new dimension.
Now, they can win slugfests.
Over the last four games, the Royals pitching staff has surrendered an unsettling 36 runs—yet the club has managed to win 3 out of 4. On Sunday, the Royals outlasted the Twins 9-8, lost 6-5 to the Indians after coming back from a 4 run deficit with an Alex Gordon grand slam, won 6-5 on Wednesday, and on July 4, the team outslugged the Indians 10-7 after trailing 5-0.
Until the last week, trailing by four runs looked hopeless.
The surge has been fueled by the team’s sudden ability to hit the ball hard. The Royals have 11 doubles and 11 home runs over the 6-game span. By contrast, the Royals averaged a mere 2.47 extra-base hits (and only 43 HRs) over the first 76 games of the season. Even more importantly, they have demonstrated increased patience at the plate. They have racked up 22 walks over the last 6 games—including 8 last night and 5 each on July 2 and June 30.
Amazing how forcing the pitcher to throw strikes leads to extra-base hits.
Eric Hosmer has led the offensive reawakening. Hosmer has 11 hits in 26 ABs (.423) and 5 HRs in his last 6 games. His triple slash numbers are now a quite respectable .281/.334/.430. He’s not hitting like a middle-infielder anymore.
Before Royals fans get too excited, however, we need to remember that the run-fest has come at the expense the Twins and Indians. The Twins have the worst starting staff in MLB, with a 5.22 ERA. Meanwhile, the Indians are hardly the 1970 Orioles with a staff ERA of 4.47 (9th worst in MLB). Even so, it’s still encouraging to see the Royals beat up bad pitching staffs. For most of the first half, Kansas City has made weak starters look like aces.
At the very least, this new development has to be comforting to the pitchers. They will now no longer feel the game is hopeless once they surrender 3 or 4 runs. Pitchers will now feel they are still in the game despite even a significant lead. Combine the new offensive firepower with the team’s propensity to come-from-behind (the Royals lead MLB with 27 come-from-behind victories), games will only rarely feel out of reach.
If nothing else, it should make watching the team more enjoyable. There is nothing more deflating for the fans than seeing a punchless team fall behind by 4 or more runs.
Baseball games have just become a whole lot more fun. Keep it up.