Jun 11, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals second baseman Omar Infante (14) is congratulated by left fielder Alex Gordon (4) after scoring in the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Royals, Ned Yost need to change their lineup

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.


Tags: Alex Gordon Billy Butler Eric Hosmer Kansas City Royals Lorenzo Cain Omar Infante

  • jimfetterolf

    That’s one theory of construction, another is to spread batters so opposing pitchers see no easy innings. Then, of course, is that not all batters hit the same everywhere in a line up. Some get nose bleeds from getting too high, others press, others yet get worked around without protection. The game is easier the farther from the field we are.

  • cardsfanatik

    I just posted on Hunters article that Cain could go lead off, in the case that they do go looking for a RF upgrade over Aoki. I would hope that they scrap the whole “we gotta find a lead off guy” and look for a guy that hits the ball a long way. If they did go for an “upgrade” in RF, he wouldn’t even have to be stellar on D, you have Cain roaming center, Gordo in LF, so he wouldn’t have to be Kenny Lofton in RF. If he could make the “routine” plays, while smacking 25-35 HR’s, that would be sweet.
    Or look for a team that is out of it, that might want to re-tool a bit. Charlie Blackmon has looked good this year, and Colorado probably isn’t going anywhere. Would love to have Cuddyer, but his shoulder may be a problem now. Ryan Ludwick has some pop, and Cincinnati probably wouldn’t require the farm for him. Carlos Quentin has some pop, and has played at Petco, and still hit some dingers, which I believe is harder than the K. (Before fence move maybe anyway). Some other guys with pop might be Micheal Morse, Evan Gattis plays OF, and maybe Baltimore would like to cash in on Nelson Cruz. There are options out there for more pop, if the Royal’s pull the trigger. None of them would be like getting Roger Maris, but some extra pop in the line up won’t hurt anything if Aoki isn’t going to be the lead off guy we all hoped. Having a .260ish BA looks a lot better if there are 20 dingers with it.
    A little off topic here, but your right, Ned can’t construct a line up to save his life. So an “upgrade” might only give Dead head Ned a new 9 hole hitter. Hell, he would probably bat Cabrera 6th behind Hosmer and Butler.

  • Tyler_KC_Fan

    This article makes zero sense. It might have had some ground to stand on about a month ago, but now it seems like you’re trying to find something to complain about.

    The Royals are 11-4 the last 15 games, averaging nearly 10 hits a game, have scored more than 3 runs in 9 of the last 15 games, out scored opponents 76 to 55, have 153 hits and 51 have been XBH (11 HRs). The line up has had numerous nights where everyone has a hit and they had 7 multi hit players tonight.

    Sveum saved the year so far. The lineup is more than fine. Why are you digging for a problem when the team is 35-32, 1.5 games behind DET, and we are currently tied for a Wild Card spot. The tram seems to be doing quite well with the lineup, pitching and defense for the first time all year. Enjoy it. Goodness.

    • Patrick Green

      But why not change the lineup to give yourself the best chance to win?

      • Tyler_KC_Fan

        Because you’re still winning with this lineup.
        Cain might make a solid lead off hitter, but he also is a huge asset when it comes to getting on base or RBIs later in the lineup.
        Gordon goes hot and cold.
        Salvy is the team leader in double plays.
        Butler is getting better but this is the exact same spot as he is.
        Hosmer has the power to be productive in the 3 spot. He’s figuring out his swing again and moving him out of the 3 spot to the 5 might make sense, but he’s better than Salvy in the 3 spot.
        Esky and Nori are more speed and slap hitters, so putting them at the end of your lineup doesn’t make sense because you want your speed earlier with power after than power with speed behind them. Power hits speed in. Not speed hits power in.
        Infante needs his confidence back. After getting clocked and taking the mask guard off he has dropped. He’s had a few games where after the pitcher throws a ball up he panics and puts the mask guard back on. He was the best 2 hitter on the team when he came back with the mask guard on. He either needs to put it back on or gain his confidence back.
        Moose is batting over .220 since coming back, which is great compared to what he has been doing. He’s improving every game, hitting for power, and gaining confidence which is huge. He belongs at the bottom of the line up for sure.

        The line up is working. The stats and record proves that. The problem wasn’t really the players. It was the coaching. Sveum has figured out a way to get the team to buy into his concepts and coaching. We see more pitches, driving to the opposite field, hitting for more power. It’s all clicking now. So like I said, stop trying to figure out something to complain about and enjoy the roller coaster ride. We are on a high right now and I love it. We all said Wild Card is our goal. Well, nearly half way through the year we are tied for a Wild Card spot and better yet, with in spitting distance of Division leader. What more do you want from the team right now?

        • Patrick Green

          Yeah, but can’t you see the Royals would’ve won more games if the lineup was changed? Just because they are 35-32, doesn’t mean to stop looking for ways to put yourself in the best chance to succeed.

          Gordon may go hot and cold, but can you not see he’s their, by far, most consistent offensive commodity?

          You’re focusing on the strengths of Butler, Hosmer, Aoki, and Infante — and that’s their track-record. But what good is a track-record when you’re not producing?

          • Tyler_KC_Fan

            So while the Royals are 11-4 in the last 15 games, you’re saying they should move the lineup around just to see what could happen? Should they change the pitching rotation too? Ventura looks like a future #1, should we try him at that spot?

            Gordon may be the most consistent offensive player, but how many teams put the “most productive offensive player” in the 2 spot? You put that player in the 3, 4, or 5 spot. Hosmer has been on fire as of late, Butler is your 4, which then puts Gordon at 5.

            Aoki has struggled this year, but when he scores the Royals have only lost 4 games this year. Aoki has had more multi hit games than almost the whole lineup. Aoki’s ability to get on isn’t something to take lightly. Also, lead off isn’t a spot you just put a hot player. Lead off is mental. Gordon was lead off and struggled at times. Dyson struggles at lead off. Infante struggles at lead off. Esky struggled being at the 2 spot. It’s all mental. Just because you can hit at the 7 doesn’t mean it will always translate to the 1 spot.

            Going off track records, if you don’t look at them then why have stats? Hosmer, statistically and based off track records, is one of the best players from June till the end of the year. Hosmer was the best second half player last year. Statistically and based off track records, Butler gets hot and stays hot. He also usually leads the team in doubles. Gordon, statistically and track record, has extreme dry spells as well as extreme hit streaks. Esky is having a great year and Cain is having a career year as well. Salvy is another player that statistically and based off track records, gets very hot and very cold.

            I’m not quite sure how else to show production with this team than showing you the stats when we brought in a legitimate hitting coach. We have a hitting coach that helped the Brewers stay in the top-5 in hitting while he haws there. Now he’s our hitting coach and we are consistently hitting, hitting with power, scoring and having big league at bats. Like I said, what else do you want this offense to do? Hit 3 HRs a game? Hit more than the 10 hits a game they are averaging the last 15 games? Score more than 3 runs they way they have the last 9 games? How are you not satisfied with the offensive production?