Ok, let’s play a little game. I will give you two teams and you tell me which one scores more runs, ok?
Team A is the Kansas City Royals, who scored 730 Runs and won just 71 games. Team B is the New York Yankees, who scored 867 Runs and won 97 games. Looking at the raw stats, you’d think the team with more hits, even if a lot of those are singles, would score more runs. There isn’t that much difference in OPS+ and BAIBP aren’t extreme (league average was .294). Not only did the Royals score less runs, they scored almost 1 run less a game, a huge difference over the course of the year.
So, the question is now, how do the Royals score more runs? Hit more homeruns? After all, the Yankees hit almost 100 more than KC. No, that’s a byproduct of stadium to an extent. Doubles in KC are homeruns in NY. So unless the Royals are planning to move in the fences, that really won’t happen. And with our pitchers, moving in the fences is asking for trouble.
Well maybe the answer lies in situational hitting? The Royals choke in the clutch and the Yankees always seem to come through right?
|RISP||Men On||on3 <2out||on3, 2 out||L&C||2out/RISP|
So, in most situations (including Late & Close) the Royals not only were close to or better than the Yankees, but they did so in more opportunities. KC had 109 games with Late & Close situations compared to just 95 for NYY. The Royals did hit signifcantly worse in situations where there is a runner on third and two outs. But then again, the Yankees’ numbers here are pretty exceptional.
The Royals look pretty solid in situational hitting, what else can it be?
How about this…. Pitch Selection.
Quick quiz. What is the best situation for a hitter? Obviously it is when the hitter is ahead in the count. Take a look at this data:
|Batter Ahead||Pitcher Ahead|
If anything this tells me the Royals compare rather favorably to the Yankees in Batter Ahead situations and exceed them in pitcher ahead situations. But, here’s the rub with that:
|PA (Batter)||PA (Pitcher)|
Essentially, the Royals hit from behind in the count considerably more than the Yankees do. The Yankees do it right and hit from ahead in the count much more often. If you gave the Royals the same opportunities as the Yankees, I’m guess their run total would be much closer to 867 than 730.
That brings me to my last and final point. Plate Discipline. Seitzer needs to preach one thing and one thing only to these young kids, take more pitches, the better off you will be and the team will be.
Last season the Royals saw an average of 3.77 pitches per plate appearance, while the Yankees saw 3.92. The league average was 3.83.
Individually the Royals were led by Alex Gordon at 3.99 (which also explains why he is a solid fit to hit leadoff for the team), followed by Escobar (!) at 3.76, Billy Butler at 3.75 and Mike Moustakas at 3.73.
The Yankees on the other hand, were led by Curtis Granderson at 4.43, Brett Gardner at 4.18, Mark Teixiera at 4.08 and Nick Swisher at 4.06. It’s also worth noting that A-Rod (3.85), Derek Jeter (3.82) and even washed up Jorge Posada (3.77) would have been second among Royals regulars. That’s seven of the nine Yankee regulars who posted better pitch counts than everyone but Alex Gordon. Right there is a huge difference in the way the team plays. The Yankees consistently get deeper into opponents bullpens where their power takes over and they score more runs.
So we will see what 2012 brings. Hopefully it is a little bit of patience at the plate so they can work themselves into favorable counts more often. If they do, we will see those runs come around to score a little more and those win totals creep up higher too.