I have to admit, I was nervous the first time I went to New York. All I had to do was get off a plane, get in a car driven by someone else and go to a meeting with four other people. I imagine, Will Smith, whose first trip ever to New York included pitching to the Yankees might not have been on top of his game.
Will Smith is not a prospect, that’s the primary reason he was on the mound instead of someone else last night, but he is also not the next Eduardo Villacis either: even if the results of their major league debuts in Yankee Stadium were freakishly similar. The Royals will give Smith another shot next week and that may give us a better indication of what Will brings to the table.
Last night was simply not Kansas City’s night. The Yankees batted around in one inning despite getting just one hit and that was a bunt single. Think about that for a minute. The Royals also failed to mount much offense despite being gifted, be it by lackadaisical Yankee defense or the kind heart of the baseball gods, at least five soft hits. Eric Hosmer, whose three hits combined probably don’t reach the centerfield wall, rightly believes the baseball gods owed him, but in the end it all added up to just three runs.
The 2012 Kansas City Royals were not built to score three runs and win games. Remember back in the spring? This squad was going to score runs, a lot of runs, and stay in games despite poor starting pitching until their lockdown bullpen took over the game. For the most part, the bullpen had done their job. They may not be ‘lock down’, but they are pretty good most of the time.
The offense, however….
While sporting the fourth best batting average as a team in the American League, the Royals rank just 10th in runs scored per game at just 3.98 per contest. Kansas City’s team on-base percentage of .315 is nothing to crow about, but it is 8th in the league (that’s despite being dead last by a lot in walks). It’s not a case of the Royals not getting on base, it’s a matter of getting those baserunners around the diamond.
As a team, the Royals are slugging an even. 400, which is 7th best in the AL, but they rank next to last in home runs with just 33. That hurts, even if Kansas City is second in doubles. A home run is the quickest way to put up crooked numbers and the easiest way to avoid something bad happening. You know, something like running into outs.
According to Fangraphs, Kansas City is the third worst baserunning team in the AL (Indians and Angels rank below them). That stat does not factor in stolen bases, where the Royals are just 10th in the league in steals (24), but are second worst in being caught stealing (14 times). The Rays lead the league in caught stealing with 16, bu have 39 successful steals.
The Royals are not running smartly or stealing effectively. Their eight sacrifice bunts and seven sacrifice flies is middle of the pack stuff in the league, so little advantage is gained there as well. Not that I’m advocating small ball, mind you.
Kansas City ranks fourth in percentage of balls outside of the strike zone that they swing at (31%), but I will point out that the Tigers and Rangers rank second and third in that category and those two teams score a run or two. While you might be encouraged that the Royals are second in contact percentage, it is worth noting that the Twins, who can’t score at all, are first in that category.
No wonder Ned Yost changes the lineup every day.