Batting order is a popular topic in baseball. Who should bat where, what is the role of a player in a certain slot, should x player be moved down or up and so on. In general, I think that the batting order is over-rated and when I asked Ned Yost about it he agreed. However, there is some merit to the idea of looking closely at the lineup and evaluating it.
So far in this young season, there seems to be a very large split amongst the different portions of the Kansas City Royals lineup. The heart of the order has been hitting well with guys like Alex Gordon, and Billy Butler hitting well. The bottom of the order has been hitting poorly with guys like Alcides Escobar, Matt Treanor and now Kila Ka'aihue struggling.
There are no teams in baseball that have a great hitter at every slot in the lineup, so I imagine there are people gnashing their teeth all over the country at the "black holes" in their own lineups. I wanted to see just how the Royals lineup fared when compared with the rest of the American League. I looked up the offensive numbers for the Royals by lineup position and then subtracted the offensive output of what the entire AL did at that lineup spot and came up with this chart:
I was a bit surprised at how poorly the Royals lead-off hitter compared to the rest of the league. This is the guy who theoretically should be getting on base to setup the hitters below him. However the Royals lead-off guy is getting on base less often than major league average.
As expected, the heart of the lineup is out performing their peers and a very good rate and the bottom of the lineup is under-performing. The real hole in the lineup is the 8th slot, which in general is sound managerial practice. Personally, I like the 9th batter being better than the 8th batter because ideally the good hitters are coming up after him in every inning other than the 1st.
All-in-all, the lower part of the order isn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, but there needs to be improvement out of the 8th spot. My takeaway is that the Royals need someone different to lead-off and setup the Alex Gordon and others to drive in more runs.
The Royals had a great week this week. They went 4-2, but it wasn’t enough to overtake the scorching hot Cleveland Indians. Something will have to give as the Indians make their way to Kauffman stadium for a four game set starting tonight in a battle for first place in the American League Central. If you’d have told me before the season that I’d write that last sentence at any point this season, I’d have said you were completely crazy. This is going to be one very interesting week.
2 Royals -1.0
3 White Sox -4.0
4 Tigers -4.5
5 Twins -6.0
Game 10: Royals 3 @ Twins 4 - boxscore
The Royals started their season series with the Minnesota Twins by dropping a game in extra innings. Offseason free agent acquisition Jeff Francis put together another fine start, but the Royals offense couldn’t score enough runs on his behalf. Reliever Robinson Tejeda was unable to get anyone out in the bottom of the tenth and gave up the winning run.
Game 11: Royals 10 @ Twins 5 – boxscore
Sitting at an even 2-2, the Royals needed to win the final game with the Twins to come home with a winning road trip. They did just that by scoring 7 runs on Twins starter Francisco Liriano. Mike Aviles busted out of his slump by going 2 for 4 with 2 doubles and 3 RBI. The bullpen kept up their dominance by throwing 4 innings of shutout ball to pick up starter Kyle Davies.
Game 12: Mariners 1 @ Royals 5 - boxscore
Bruce Chen threw 8 scoreless innings in the opening game of the series with the Seattle Mariners. It was all the Royals needed in a rain shortened game. Wilson Betemit hit his first homerun of the season while Alex Gordon collected a double and two RBI in the game.
Game 13: Mariners 5 @ Royals 6 - boxscore
Starter Luke Hochevar threw 7 scoreless innings to earn his title as number 1 starter for the Royals in game 2 of the series with the Mariners. Jeff Francoeur and Billy Butler each collected 3 hits to propel the Royals to a 5 run lead going into the top of the 8th. The Royals bullpen, which had been the strength of the team wobbled as Blake Wood, Tim Collins and Joakim Soria then surrendered 4 runs in 2 innings. However, the Mariners came up a run short as the Royals ended up taking the game.
Game 14: Mariners 0 @ Royals 7 - boxscore
The pitching matchup of Mariners Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez and the Royals Sean O’Sullivan looked like a mismatch, however things turned out a bit different. O’Sullivan threw 5 scoreless while Royals touched up Martinez for 2 runs. The Royals bullpen held the Mariners scoreless for the final four frames and tacked on some insurance runs in the 8th for a series win.
Game 15: Mariners 3 @ Royals 2 - boxscore
Alex Gordon hit in his 11th straight game, but the offense could not quite figure out Mariners pitcher Michel Pineda. Another solid start by Jeff Francis was wasted as the Mariners kept the Royals to only scoring 2 runs. They had opportunities late in the game to win, but couldn’t convert.
Position Player of the Week: Alex Gordon
Alex Gordon hit .381/.381/.524 this week and is riding a career long 11 game hitting streak. He also made a number of great defensive plays and seemed to be the heart of nearly every scoring rally this week.
Starting Pitcher of the Week: Luke Hochevar
The starting pitching was the key this week and there were a number of solid outings put together. Bruce Chen and Jeff Francis would have also been fine choices. However, I'm going with Luke Hochevar. He only allowed a single hit over 7 innings of work in his start this week.
Relief Pitcher of the Week: Jeremy Jeffress
He gave up no earned runs in 4 innings this week and notched his first career save.
On The Farm
Top prospect Mike Montgomery (LHP) threw 10 innings over 2 starts last week for the Storm Chasers (AAA) and didn’t give up a run. He has a 3.00 ERA and has 14 strikeouts to 10 walks this season.
Eric Hosmer (1B) went 10 for 26 last week for the Storm Chasers (AAA). He’s currently hitting .409 on the season with a homerun and 2 doubles.
Jeff Bianchi (SS) has hit in 8 straight games and went 9 for 24 this week for the Naturals (AA).
Rey Navarro (2B) continued his torrid hitting this week for the Blue Rocks (A+). He went 11 for 24 this week and is hitting .500/.526/.806 on the season.
Tim Melville (RHP) started one game this week and he threw a gem. He went 6 innings, struck out 7 and walked only one for the Blue Rocks (A+)
The Week to Come
In the biggest home series in at least two years, the first place Cleveland Indians come to Kansas City and the Division lead is on the line. The Royals will need to take three out of four in order to have sole possession of first place. Then the Royals head to Texas to take on the defending American League Champion Texas Rangers.
4/18-4/21 vs Cleveland Indians
4/22-4/24 @ Texas Rangers