The stat of the season for the Royals is this four-run threshold, the one we’ve mentioned a million times in the paper and blogs and you’ve heard on radio and seen on TV and here it is again in Bob Dutton’s game story from last night:
“They are 25-5 when they score at least four runs (and 11-34 when they don’t).”
Let’s pause, for a moment, to acknowledge Alex Gordon’s ridiculous game last night: 3-for-5, including a homer and the walk-off hit, plus at least three excellent plays in the outfield. In the elevator on the way down to the clubhouse after the game, I told a friend the Royals might’ve lost 5-1 without Gordon instead of winning 4-3 with him. When I said it, I was exaggerating to make a point. After I said it, I wasn’t sure I was exaggerating at all.
I mentioned this on Twitter, but that works out to an .833 win percentage when they score four or more and a .244 win percentage when they don’t.
As you’d expect from a team with the best team ERA in the league, both numbers are a bit ahead of the rest of the league — which is at .735 and .215, respectively.
So looking at that, we can see that the Royals aren’t alone in this magic four-run threshold. If you look at the league-wide breakdown, you see by far the biggest jump in win percentage is from scoring exactly three runs (.381) to exactly four runs (.563).
Stretch those percentages over an entire season, and that’s the difference between a 100-loss team and a 91-win team. That’s the difference between people getting fired, and people getting contract extensions.
The Royals, as you’d expect, are an exaggeration of those numbers: 7-13 (.350) when scoring exactly three runs, and 6-2 (.750) when scoring exactly four.
The problem, of course, is that the Royals just don’t score four runs or more often enough.
Here, a chart comparing how often the Royals reach certain run totals compared to the rest of the league, and pardon the crudeness of this but I don’t know a better way:
Runs – Royals – Rest of the AL
0 – 5.3% – 6.7%
1 – 10.7% – 8.9%
2 – 17.3% – 12.7%
3 – 26.7% – 15.5%
4 – 10.7% – 14.0%
5 – 5.3% – 10.2%
6 – 4.0% – 9.7%
7 – 8.0% – 7.2%
8+ – 12.0% – 15.0%
So, yeah. There’s a big difference there. The Royals score three runs or fewer, roughly, 60 percent of the time. The rest of the league scores four runs or more, roughly, 56 percent of the time.
This is why Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer are so important.