Judging the Royals

For the Royals, does energy lead to hits or do hits lead to energy?

Kansas City Royals second baseman Raul Mondesi stole second base before the tag from Oakland Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien on Thursday night.
Kansas City Royals second baseman Raul Mondesi stole second base before the tag from Oakland Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien on Thursday night. jsleezer@kcstar.com

When Doug Sisson was a Royals coach, he once said that a team that didn’t hit would look lifeless. A team shows its energy on the base paths and if you don’t have runners it’s hard to show energy.

You can’t show energy at the plate and, unless the ball is hit to you, it’s hard to show energy on defense, so you show energy by going first to third, second to home and stealing bases.

Teams that run the bases aggressively look energetic and lately the Royals haven’t had a whole lot of base runners; only one team in the American League has a lower on-base percentage.

And when they have had runners, either it was the wrong runners (slow guys) or the wrong situation; if you’re down by multiple runs, you don’t take chances on the base paths.

On Wednesday night, the Royals had Raul Mondesi on first base when Mike Moustakas hit a double to right field. The crowd booed third-base coach Mike Jirschele when he stopped Mondesi at third base, but the Royals were down by eight runs at the time.

It’s not good baseball to risk an out and a collision at the plate so you can make the score 8-1.

Thursday night was a different situation; the Royals broke out on top in the first inning and that allowed them to take more risks running the bases.

And with Jason Vargas holding the Oakland A’s down, it looked like old times; it was the kind of baseball Royals fans got used to seeing in 2014 and 2015.

Before Thursday’s game Jirschele said Royals fans didn’t need to worry about the team’s energy; once the Royals got the bats going fans would see plenty of energy.

And Jirsch was right.

The Royals beat the A’s 3-1.

How a defensive shift helped Lorenzo Cain steal third base and score a run

In a standard defense, a runner on second base has the shortstop behind him and the shortstop will make noise and feint toward second base to shorten the runner’s lead. The runner is never sure exactly where the shortstop is.

But in the third inning the A’s had three guys on the right side of the infield, so Lorenzo Cain could see where everybody was and that helped him get a good lead and a good jump.

Cain stole third and Brandon Moss drove him in with a sac fly.

When you might let the runner steal third

On Wednesday night, Rajai Davis was on second base, took off for third and Mike Moustakas never moved. The ball was fouled off so Davis had to go back, but why didn’t Moose cover third base?

There were two outs in the inning.

Base stealers drive everybody nuts. Pitchers have to slide step, hold the ball in the set position and throw pickoffs; infielders have to make feints to the bag and make sure they’re close enough to the base to receive a throw if the runner takes off.

With two outs and a runner on second base, teams might say to heck with all that; ignore the runner, back up and play good defense.

If the runner wants third, let him take it. He was already in scoring position at second and with two outs would probably score on a base hit anyway; having him on third isn’t that much worse.

If Brandon Moss only plays outfield in road games, don’t be surprised

On Tuesday night, Brandon Moss played left field and made Kauffman Stadium look even bigger than usual. Moss didn’t get to a couple of balls that Alex Gordon usually handles, so don’t be surprised if Moss plays outfield when the Royals are on the road and they have a smaller field for him to cover.

Let’s finish where we started

This weekend the Royals play the Angels and if the pitching and defense can keep the score close fans will see some exciting base running; the Royals will look energetic.

If the Angels break out on top and take a multi-run lead, fans will see the Royals play station-to-station baseball when they’re on the base paths and swing for the fences when they’re at the plate.

Let’s hope it’s the former not the latter because the latter is kinda boring and hasn’t worked all that hot so far.