Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:
An offensively challenged team, relying in pitching and defense, is challenging for Central Division title.
The Difference here is it’s the AL Central title, and the team I’m talking about isn’t the Cardinals, but the Kansas City Royals, our friends on the other side of the state.
I’ve had my eye on the Royals off and on for eons, thanks to Rany Jazayerli. I’ve been reading him all the way back to the ‘Rob and Rany on the Royals’ days.
Anyways, the comparison is admittedly a little broad, for the following reasons:
1) their defensive strength is in the outfield, while ours is in the infield.
2) the key to their staff is their bullpen. With three lights out relievers, for the last three innings, they only really need the starters to go six innings. Our bullpen, while it has been mostly reliable (especially when Pat Neshek is on the mound) is nowhere near as trustworthy as Kansas City’s, so we lean more heavily on our starters, with mixed results. For example, we lead the league in shutouts, but they actually have more quality starts.
They have a higher overall BA at .263 to our .251, but we have a higher .OBP at .317 to their .312
There are similarities though.
1) St. Louis ranks 2nd to last in home runs with 79, while KC ranks last with 71.
2) Our team ERA’s are almost exactly the same, theirs being 3.59 while ours is 3.60.
3) They have 213 doubles while we have 209, not much difference there.
So what is the key difference that separates the two teams on offense?
They have four players with 10 or more stolen bases, while we have one. In fact they rank second in stolen bases with 102 while we rank 26th with 49. And they’ve only been caught stealing five more times than we have. There’s not a stat for number of times a team has taken an extra base vs. not attempting to do so, but if there was, I’m sure KC would lead us in it.
That team speed and overall aggressiveness on the bases has helped them rise to the middle of the pack in runs scored, a category the Cards rank next to last in. A higher OBP doesn’t matter if we can’t convert those extra base runners into runs.
Thanks for reading.