The off day found the Royals in an interesting place, three games under .500, 6 1/2 back of the first-place Tigers and four ahead of the last-place White Sox. They were in first in early May, last place in early June, and now find themselves somewhere in between.
By SAM MELLINGER
The Kansas City Star
This is an absolutely critical season for general manager Dayton Moore, which is why your boy wrote they should make a move to give themselves more balance and avoid becoming another Kansas City team whose enormous failure cancels out an enormous strength.
The names I mentioned are right fielders, since Jeff Francoeurs playing time has sunk with his production and the Royals appear less than convinced that David Lough is the long-term answer. I couldve put second basemen in there, too. The Royals are, roughly, two bats from being a real contender and those are the obvious spots.
But, there are a few things that even those fixes dont actually fix.
Alcides Escobar has really benefited from the struggles of Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer, in the sense that fewer people are noticing that he is tracking a remarkably inept offensive season.
Right now, Escobar is hitting .250 with a .277 on-base and .337 slugging percentage. Thats actually an improvement over the last few weeks but still calculates as a 68 OPS+, which means his offensive production when adjusted for league effects and ballparks is 32 percent less than league average.
Since 1995 a date admittedly pulled from random only 17 players have had 600 or more plate appearances with an OPS+ of 70 or below. Only one Milwaukees Casey McGehee has done it in the last five years.
Thats a hole in the lineup few are talking about.
All of this, again and Ill continue to mention this often because it hangs over everything the Royals do depends on Hosmer and Moustakas figuring it out.
On that point, the signs are actually positive. After a brutal beginning, Hosmers production is creeping back toward league average and in June hes hitting .306 with a .355 on-base and .471 slugging percentage.
Moustakas is still behind, but has two hits in each of his last four games, including two doubles. His average is above .200, and while its ridiculous to be overly encouraged by a presumed franchise cornerstone hitting above .200 when were 73 games into the season, well, its better than the alternative.