If there’s any team even more desperate for wins than the Kansas City Royals at this early stage of the season it would have to be their AL Central counterpart, the Minnesota Twins. Both teams are languishing at 5-14, but the Royals at least won two of three in Cleveland, while the Twins have dropped five in a row, including a sweep at the hands of the previously reeling Boston Red Sox. Now the Royals and Twins get set for three games at Target Field in Minneapolis starting tonight.
Even though both teams rank near the bottom of the American League in runs scored—Kansas City is 12th, while Minnesota is 13th—there are reasons to think we can see some runs scored. The Twins are in the middle of the AL in terms of getting runners on base and eventually that translates into runs. Kansas City actually ranks in the league’s upper half in both on-base percentage and slugging percentage, suggesting that with just a bit more timely hitting, the offensive floodgates can open.
Furthermore, each team has individual players hitting the ball well. After slow starts, Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer look to be heating for the Royals, Mike Moustakas is hot and Billy Butler has had a solid April overall. In Minnesota, Denard Span is setting the table, with a .373 on-base percentage, Josh Willingham has bashed eight home runs and is slugging .667, and—don’t look now—but the M&M boys are gradually on their way back. Joe Mauer’s OBP is up over .400, like it was during his MVP year of 2009. And even though Justin Morneau is hitting only .238, his plate discipline has his OBP 95 points higher and he’s slugging .492. Morneau’s not all the way back to his own MVP level of 2006, but after his concussion it’s nice just to see him swinging the bat effectively again.
So even though the basic stats don’t show it, both the Royals and Twins are on the verge of an offensive breakout and there’s the potential for some slugfests this weekend. Sports fans in Kansas City are likely more interested in NFL draft action with the Chiefs right now, but the Royals still have a chance to turn the season around.
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