Royals

Royals stats check: Chris Young allowing homers at record pace

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Chris Young kicked at the mound as the Washington Nationals’ Anthony Rendon rounded the bases after hitting a solo home run last month.
Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Chris Young kicked at the mound as the Washington Nationals’ Anthony Rendon rounded the bases after hitting a solo home run last month. jsleezer@kcstar.com

This is the continuation of a weekly stats column to examine how this year’s Royals compare to the 2015 World Series champions. All numbers through Tuesday’s game.

Chris Young is allowing 3.73 home runs per nine innings, which is a number that has a chance to be historic.

I searched Fangraphs back to 1871 — 25,771 pitchers in all — to see who had the highest home-run rate in a season with at least 40 innings pitched. Young is No. 1 on the list at 3.73, with Brian Matusz in a distant second at 3.26 HR/9 in 2011.

It’s unfair to assume Young’s stats will stay this way. The numbers are clouded by Sunday’s four-homer start at Cleveland, and a few homerless innings could improve his line significantly given his low number of innings (41).

It’s still interesting to know that no one in MLB history has ever finished a season with the home-run problem that Young currently has.

Let’s take a look at this week’s team numbers.

Hitting

2015 — .269/.322/.412 (Batting average/On-base percentage/Slugging percentage)

2016 — .267/.317/.397

Last 7 games — .225/.279/.300

The Royals followed up one of their best hitting weeks with one of their worst. Most absent was power, as KC mustered just 11 extra-base hits in 249 plate-appearances. The Royals’ .279 OBP in the last week was third-worst among MLB teams, while their .300 slugging percentage was worst in the majors.

Hitting with runners in scoring position

2015 — .282/.347/.426

2016 — .262/.315/.383

After going 27-for-76 last week with runners in scoring position (.355), KC has just 8 hits in 54 at-bats in the same situation this week (.148). On the first six games of the road trip, the Royals are 4-for-42 with RISP (.095).

Starting pitching

2015 — 4.34 ERA, 16.8 K%, 7.6 BB%

2016 — 4.92, 20.0, 9.2

Last 7 games — 6.13, 21.3, 4.6

This makes two straight weeks that KC’s starters have posted an ERA above 6. Home runs have been the biggest season-long issue, as the Royals’ starters are surrendering 1.59 homers per nine innings — tied for the worst mark in the majors with Cincinnati.

Relief pitching

2015 — 2.72, 22.9, 8.7

2016 — 2.76, 24.1, 8.5

Last 7 games — 6.00, 16.3, 11.3

It was even a bad week for KC’s normally reliable bullpen. That included Kelvin Herrera, who had only allowed three earned runs and three walks all season before allowing one walk and one earned run in each of his last two outings.

Defense

2015 — 51 defensive runs saved (.315 per game, 2nd in MLB)

2016 — 8 defensive runs saved (.138 per game, 12th in MLB)

The Royals continue to trend as a good-but-not-great defensive team. While Lorenzo Cain, Jarrod Dyson and Salvador Perez appear to be elite defenders, KC has had dropoffs from other guys, most notably Alcides Escobar, Omar Infante and Eric Hosmer.

Top 5 in Fangraphs WAR

2015 — Cain 6.6, Moustakas 3.8, Hosmer 3.5, Gordon 2.8, Ventura 2.7

2016 — Cain 1.7, Perez 1.4, Dyson 1.0, Herrera 0.9, Volquez 0.9

Dyson is quietly having an effective season in his first chance at an extended role. He’s one of only 11 MLB players to have more walks than strikeouts (among players with at least 100 at-bats), and though he doesn’t offer any power, his ability to put it in play makes him an overall asset when combined with his strong defense.

Bottom 5 in Fangraphs WAR

2015 — Infante -0.9, Guthrie -0.9, Almonte -0.4, Gomes -0.3, Coleman -0.2

2016 — Morales -0.9, Young -0.8, Escobar -0.5, Wang -0.1, Cruz -0.1

A bad season is only getting worse for Escobar, as his WAR total is worst in the majors among 26 qualified shortstops. His on-base slugging of .571 is fourth-worst among 175 qualified players, and a .103/.100/.172 line this week didn’t help.

Looking at the Royals' options in the starting rotation 

Jesse Newell: 816-234-4759, @jessenewell

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