A franchise’s worst eight-game start in 11 seasons has naturally prompted an exploration into the causes behind it. And for the Kansas City Royals, the search doesn’t need to be wide-ranging in nature. It begins with ineffective offense and ends at a floundering bullpen.
But there’s at least one item absent from Royals manager Ned Yost’s list of concerns.
Asked before Thursday’s game against the A’s about his players’ seeming lack of life in the opening week-plus of the season, Yost fired back.
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“People that say that ought to sit in this dugout during the game and see how much energy is in this dugout,” he said. “There’s a lot of energy.
“There’s quite a bit of rage at times in here. So it tells me they’re getting after it.”
One baseball adage suggests that when a team is struggling offensively, it can often be mistaken for a flat performance. The correlation between the two — offense and spiritedness — presents a chicken-and-egg argument over which idea represents the cause and which one is the effect.
But the root of the lack-of-energy perception could indeed sit somewhere in there, with the Royals ranking last in baseball with a .268 on-base percentage. They also lead only the Toronto Blue Jays with their .199 batting average. Yost called it “as simple as that.”
Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer suggested perhaps a bit more after Wednesday’s loss, offering, “We’ve just got to come out with some energy. Not that we’re not, but it just seems like we’re flat right now.” He added that, “The guys are doing everything they can.”
In their playoff runs of 2015 and 2014, the Royals were noted for their outward displays of emotions. Even from the outside, they displayed an obvious enjoyment of the game.
A 2-6 start to the year has predictably silenced many of those moments.
Yost addressed that, as well.
“Guys get frustrated when you lose,” Yost said. “Nobody likes to lose. It’s not fun. You don’t want a team that’s having fun when we’re losing. That’s for sure.”