A team that’s above .500 and still in the Wild Card race at the All-Star break should still consider themselves lucky, but the first half of 2014 didn’t bring the Kansas City Royals or their fans what they expected. One of the most telling and significant of these examples is the strange variance of offensive success from many sources.
Lorenzo Cain maintained a team-best .307 batting average through the first half of the 2014 season. His on base percentage of .342 was bested only by Jarrod Dyson and Alex Gordon, who each posted a .348 OBP. During his time as the No. 1 hitter in KC’s lineup this year, Cain is .338 with a .515 slugging percentage through 72 plate appearances. With his visually obvious athleticism, many expected Lo to get some extra-base hits once he neared his prime. The same probably can’t be said for KC’s All-Star-caliber shortstop.
Alcides Escobar has a higher slugging percentage (.386) than Mike Moustakas (.371) or Billy Butler (.355) through the first half of 2014. Six different Royals have played in at least 70 games this season and posted a higher SLG% than either Butler or Moose. Whether it’s a good sign or a terrible pattern, the Royals who are steadily producing at the plate aren’t the players KC expects (or needs) to produce.
The optimist would tell you that certain Royals are due to bounce back, so this improvement from unexpected sources could make for a balanced and potent lineup in this season’s second half. The skeptics, of which there are many in KC nowadays, would point out that the Royals won’t go anywhere without consistent effectiveness from the middle of their order. While the former merely presents the possibility for steps in the right direction, the latter is an undeniable fact.