Found April 23, 2013 on On The Way Home:
Kansas City Royals fans have been suffering for a long, long time. Since winning the 1985 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Royals have failed to make it back to the postseason. The 27 years the Royals have been absent from the playoffs is the longest current drought in all of baseball. How does one team not make the playoffs in 27 years you ask? In this given case, they give up more runs than they score. For 18 straight years, and 22 of the last 27, the Royals have given up more runs than they have scored. This article isn’t going to be a lesson on the Pythagorean Win-Loss theory, but it’s pretty easy to understand that giving up more than you score is not a good thing.  Thus far, this year’s edition of the Royals has bucked the trend. Through April 21st, the Royals have scored 68 runs and given up 57 runs. Not by coincidence, the Royals find themselves atop the AL Central half way through April. The question Royals fans want to know is: can they keep it up? Before we decide if they can go the distance, let’s first check out where they’re at. How does a team that has produced a consistently bad run differential turn it around?  They either score more or they give up less. The Royals have done the latter. Their offense hasn’t improved at all from last year. They’re doing pretty much the same or worse in all important offensive categories. At the individual level, Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain are raking, but Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas are not producing much of anything. Pitching is where the Royals have made their money. From last year, they’re giving up more than a full run less per game, they’ve lowered their collective walk rate to below 3 per game, and their staff WHIP is a nice 1.169. Base runners score runs. Reducing base runners increases a team’s chances of preventing runs. Through April 21st, the Royals have done the third best job in the AL at preventing base runners. Great, the Royals have learned that by preventing runs they can win more games. Can they keep it up for the entire season? Doubtful. They’ve started hot, due to their pitching staff doing an excellent job. Of their five starters, only one, Luis Mendoza, has an ERA+ of below average. Wade Davis is the only one with a WHIP of above 1.3 and Jeremy Guthrie is the only starter averaging more than 2 walks per 9 innings pitched. They simply can’t keep up that pace. All of their BB/9 innings are going to go up.  Not one Royals starter has a career BB/9 of lower than 2.1. More walks means more base runners and more runs. Besides Wade Davis, all of the starters are giving up 8.4 H/9 or less, that ratio is going to go up as well. The lowest career H/9 for a starter is 8.6.  Exactly like walks, more hits will put more men on the bases, leading to more runs. Although they will regress as the season moves forward, the Royals staff is respectable.  James Shields is a stud and Ervin Santana may have finally figured it all out.  Unfortunately, their offense won’t be able to score enough runs to keep their run differential in the black. As their pitching staff moves toward reality, their offense will have to go above and beyond it, which isn’t likely. They have a few bright spots as mentioned above. Gordon, Cain, Billy Butler, and even Alcides Escobar will be contributors. On the other hand, Hosmer at 1B and Moustakas at 3B, will drag them down. They’ve both proven to struggle getting on base, which as we’ve learned, we’ll lead to less runs scored. When the day comes, it will be hard for Kansas City fans to come to the realization that they’re team is once again out of contention. With a pitching staff returning to reality and an offense struggling to get men on base, it will simply be another hot summer of Kansas City Royal baseball. Ed Roberts writes for Who’s Got a Heat Gun. His analyses and opinions are his own. The post Guest Post: Can the Kansas City Royals Keep Winning? appeared first on On The Way Home.
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