It has taken far longer than it should have, but the Kansas City Royals have finally begun to acknowledge that they need players that can get on base.
The Oakland A’s and MoneyBall changed the way that baseball was played. Teams suddenly began to look for players that would draw walks and work a count, realizing that getting on base and getting into a team’s bullpen could make a major difference. While most teams copied the A’s strategy, there were some that continued to do things their own way, such as the Kansas City Royals.
And for a time that worked. The Royals were able to take their concept of making contact, stellar defense, and a buzzsaw of a bullpen to consecutive American League pennants, winning the World Series in 2015.
But the Royals lost their way in the ensuing years. As players such as Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, and Mike Moustakas left, the offense began to disappear. Not only were the hits not dropping, but players were not getting on base. In 2020, the Royals were 12th in the AL with a .308 on base percentage, and 11th with a .711 OPS.
It is time for a change. With the framework of a strong pitching staff in place, Royals general manager Dayton Moore acknowledged that they needed to do something different. Now, the team will look to add “more on base guys” from at least a couple of spots in the lineup.
There are some obvious places to make an addition. Alex Gordon‘s retirement has left a gaping hole in left field. Nicky Lopez has a .279 on base percentage in his 594 major league plate appearances, and could be replaced.
The lineup is not entirely devoid of such players. Whit Merrifield and Hunter Dozier have the ability to draw a walk and get on base at a reasonable clip. Jorge Soler also draws walks, but strikes out at a prodigious rate. Finding a couple more players that can make consistent contact and get on base regularly could make a major difference for the Royals fortunes.
The Kansas City Royals are going to look for players that can get on base to supplement their lineup. They have finally joined the modern era of baseball.