The Kansas City Royals just had their best season in decades, but their struggling offense kept them out of the playoffs. With a variety of questions bouncing around about free agency and key player re-signings, Royals GM Dayton Moore announced publicly that he intended to bring another bat to KC for 2014. This season’s results, and the statistics that go with it, make it very clear that this move is absolutely crucial for the Royals’ success in the near future.
The Royals ranked 23rd league-wide in doubles, and only the San Francisco Giants and Miami Marlins hit fewer home runs. Their power production wasn’t just bad, it was consistently bad. Month-by-month, the Royals ranked as low as 30th in home run production and only as high as 20th, with 25 home runs in August. With a greatly improved pitching staff and consistently solid defense, the Royals can make due without much power in the lineup, but can they get to the playoffs without it?
Well, the short answer is a resounding “no.” The long answer is just a more statistically verbose “no.” Six of the 10 best HR-hitting teams in the MLB went to playoffs, and only three of the 10 teams were below .500. Six of the top 10 doubles hitting teams went to playoffs, and only two were below .500. That may leave one to think that the Royals can squeak by and join the minority of teams entering the postseason without top-10 power, but it just isn’t possible in the American League.
Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics all made the top 10 in both categories – that’s four of the five teams to make the playoffs in the American League. The outlier, Tampa Bay Rays, had the seventh most doubles and the 11th most HR in the league. It seems pretty clear what an AL team needs to do to get into the playoffs these days. If the Royals’ offense doesn’t improve drastically, it looks like earning entry to the postseason will be almost impossible.