During a season that brought the Royals their first World Series championship in 30 years, manager Ned Yost filled out a lineup card that displayed minimal variance. Perhaps most notably, shortstop Alcides Escobar rarely left the leadoff spot in 2015, despite possessing few characteristics indicative of the prototypical leadoff hitter.
And it worked, too. The Royals were 82-49 with Escobar at the top of the order last season and only 6-11 with him elsewhere in the lineup — a concept that even Yost said he couldn’t explain, prompting the birth of the term “Esky Magic.”
A year later, a notion that was previously unexplainable has given way to one with more sound logic — Escobar isn’t producing in the leadoff spot, and the Royals aren’t scoring. Since being put back in the leadoff hole on July 16, Escobar is hitting only .214, and the Royals are 6-13.
Might those numbers lead Yost to consider other leadoff options? Say, right fielder Paulo Orlando, who has a .351 on-base percentage?
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“Just to throwing (Orlando) at the top of the order doesn’t do anybody any good unless the you got the guys behind him that are hitting,” Yost said. “I’ve thought every which way about it and until we get the middle of our order hitting, it’s not going to make any difference.”
The Royals have been held to three runs or fewer in eight straight games heading into Friday’s matchup with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Escobar has scored only six times since rejoining the leadoff spot 19 games ago, and he’s yet to record an extra-base hit.
Orlando presents an intriguing option should Yost opt for a switch atop the order. Orlando entered Friday with a .326 average and .351 on-base percentage. He has stolen seven bases this year. But he has hit sixth or lower in the batting order in all but one start this season, when he hit fifth.
“I like Paulo down at the bottom, because Paulo is consistently hitting, alright,” Yost said. “The middle of the order is not hitting, so Paulo can go to the top of the order and get on, (but) if the middle of the order gets on, and the way Paulo is consistently hitting, we might create more run production with him at the bottom of the order.”
Amos Otis makes appearance at The K
The Royals held the third annual Legends Night on Friday, and team Hall of Famer Amos Otis was in attendance for the game. Otis signed autographs in the team store before the first pitch.
On Thursday, Jackson County executive Frank White, a former Royals player, declared Friday would be Amos Otis Day in Jackson County.
A center fielder, Otis won three Gold Gloves with the Royals. He led the American League in doubles in 1970 and 1976 and led the league with 52 stolen bases in 1971.