The Kansas City Royals are not living up to expectations this season despite being hot of late and winning five consecutive contests — well, six after today’s game culminates as the Royals are leading 9-0 in the 9th inning.
Players whom have not lived up to expectations aside, there is a conspicuous way for these Royals to vastly improve. And it is simple lineup optimization.
It’s irrefutable Ned Yost — the Royals manager — is on the hot seat this season. He refuses to get with the times and ignores statistical information, by barely, if ever, using defensive shifts.
Further, he puts forth a lineup each and every game that is far from optimal. He’s starting to resemble former Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker in that regard, and that’s not a good thing. Baker seemed clueless when he submitted the lineup card each game — especially last season when he slotted Zack Cozart and his .587 OPS in the 2-hole for half the year.
Now, back to Yost who has predominately stuck with the same lineup all year. Below is the lineup Yost went with today and has frequently gone with this season:
1.) Norichika Aoki .259/.320/.319
2.) Omar Infante .246/.290/.340
3.) Eric Hosmer .264/.306/.374
4.) Billy Butler .261/.310/.340
5.) Alex Gordon .283/.367/.445
6.) Salvador Perez .272/.324/.424
7.) Lorenzo Cain .308/.345/.415
8.) Mike Moustakas .174/.235/.353
9.) Alcides Escobar .290/.329/.403
Yup. Just by looking at the statistics above you can evidently see the Royals’ best hitters this year are Gordon, Perez, Cain, and Escobar. Yet, they are batting 5th, 6th, 7th, and 9th respectively. That’s managerial malpractice. The lineup should be built to score the most runs, and obviously right now the way Yost is running things, that is not happening.
Sure, the above lineup made sense in the beginning of the year. All of those guys were coming off good seasons.
That said, Infante seemingly had a spike year. His 117 wRC+ in 2013 was much better than his career 91 wRC+.
Eric Hosmer had been off and on his whole career — failing to live up to his super-prospect status with his sporadic production.
Billy Butler is not the prototypical four-hitter, but had been an above-average offensive threat his entire career. A lot of that value stemmed from his ability to get 0n-base, however, that’s been an issue this season and his 7.2 BB% this year is far from his career norm of 9.1%.
Finally, Aoki has never really had the average power skills to suffice as a regular leadoff hitter on a deep and talented team like the Royals. But, he’s been in the 1-hole 272 of 274 plate appearances.
This lineup needs to be revamped. Starting from the top down. First, Cain, who has been equally productive against left and right-handed pitching this season, needs to be K.C.’s new number one. He’s speedy and has the tools of a leadoff hitter.
Next, Gordon needs to be brought up in the order as he is Kansas City’s best hitter and player. Do I need to explain why? The higher in the lineup you hit, the more you will get up to the plate.
It’d be nice to see Perez move up in the top four of the batting order, because of being a consistent and reliable threat throughout the year.
Ideally, this would be the most optimal lineup:
1.) Lorenzo Cain
2.) Alex Gordon
3.) Salvador Perez
4.) Billy Butler
5.) Eric Hosmer
6.) Alcides Escobar
7.) Norichika Aoki
8.) Omar Infante
9.) Mike Moustakas
Though some of these guys may have just gotten off to a hot or cold start, it’s vital to ride these guys when they’re performing well by giving them more opportunities to produce. Right now, the Royals are just a game behind the struggling first-place Detroit Tigers, and going froward, they need to shake their lineup up substantially if they’re to dethrone them in the American League Central.