The_Riddler_by_JokerfiedCrane

Why are the Kansas City Royals so awful at home?

Why is it that the 2012 Kansas City Royals have won 5 road games in a row, yet they have won 5 TOTAL home games all season?  There has to be SOMETHING to explain this besides it being simply that “they are the Royals” right?

Take a look at the team stats:

IS IT THE OFFENSE?

Batting Average

  • Home- .265 (12th in MLB)
  • Away- .254 (Tied for 9th in MLB)

On Base Percentage (.OBP)

  • Home- .323 (15th)
  • Away- .312 (14th)

On Base Plus Slugging (.OPS)

  • Home- .718 (19th)
  • Away- .714 (12th)

Home Runs

  • Home- 12 (26th)
  • Away- 18 (T-10th)

Runs Batted In (RBI)

  • Home- 78 (16th)
  • Away- 76 (18th)

Runs Scored

  • Home- 84 (16th)
  • Away- 82 (18th)

Caught Stealing

  • Home- 7 (T-2nd) 
  • Away- 7 (T-4th)

IS IT THE PITCHING/DEFENSE?

ERA

  • Home- 5.14 (27th) 
  • Away- 3.10 (4th)

Walks + Hits per Inning Pitched (WHIP)

  • Home- 1.50 (27th)
  • Away- 1.31 (4th)

Runs Allowed

  • Home- 122 (29th)
  • Away- 60 (2nd)

OPS Allowed

  • Home- .801 (29th)
  • Away- .669 (4th)

Home Runs Allowed

  • Home- 27 (T-26th)
  • Away- 7 (1st) 

Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP)

  • Home- .315 (27th)
  • Away- .299 (22nd)

(Stats courtesy of Fangraphs.com and MLB.com)

IT’S THE PITCHING, STUPID

As I went through these stats I was expecting to find that the offense was markedly better on the road compared to home.  I figured the young players were gripping the bats a little more tightly under the weight of “#OurTime” and the expectations for this season.  Eric Hosmer’s sub .200 batting average tends to lead one to make assumptions like this.  Alex Gordon’s struggles at the plate keep you walking down that path.  But look at all of those offensive stats: the Royals are awful at nothing, and league average at several things, no matter where they play (yes I recognize that they’ve run into a lot of outs on the bases and haven’t hit many HRs at home).  I didn’t post it, but the Royals’ BABIP on the road is nearly 25 points LOWER than at home.  In short, even though they had some tough luck in the clutch during a lot of April, the bats really aren’t the problem.  

I guess this is just life as a Royals fan: you know your starting pitching sucks and so you tend to ignore it as a reason for lack of success.  You start thinking “Well, we can hit enough and if we can just get 5 innings and they keep us in it…..the bullpen can hold them late.”  The Royals bullpen will be gassed by the All Star Break at this rate.  If you want to give the defense some credit for not causing too many unearned runs, you’ll see that Runs Allowed and ERA track pretty closely together as far as league ranking is concerned.  Most everyone gets that ERA/Runs Allowed is important and the Home/Road splits show that the Royals pitching has been flat out AWFUL at The K.   It is worse than just that, though.  

Look at the divergence in a lot of the most important peripheral stats.  WHIP, OPS allowed, Runs Allowed, and Home Runs Allowed are all ATROCIOUS at home.  When I first started this I thought I was going to find that BABIP was really low on the road and that would explain these splits.  It would be that simple: Royals pitchers have just been really lucky on the road.  That is NOT the case at all, though.  The BABIP isn’t that far apart and the road BABIP is very close to average.  

So how can it  be that the Royals pitchers, pitching in a known pitchers’ park for their home games can be that much worse thus far at home?  This while at the same time excelling in hitters’ parks which include the likes of Chicago and Texas?  Is this going to correct itself once the summer heat sets in and the balls start carrying more no matter where they go?  Without some infusion of improved starting pitching (improved Jonathan Sanchez coming off the DL) from this point forward, that is exactly what I see happening.

As usual, the Royals fan is left hoping for the absurd and praying for a miracle.

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