Royals' hack-first-ask-questions-later approach simply not working
It's not just their paucity of walks that points to the Royals' impatience at the plate. They also see precious few pitches and swing at a whole lot of pitches outside the strike zone.
If only more of the Royals were as patient at the plate as Alex Gordon.
Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports
By Jeffrey Flanagan
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It is well documented that the Royals are baseball's most impatient offensive team.
Though the Royals don't hit for power (last in baseball with 62 homers) and therefore need all the baserunners they can get to score runs, they simply refuse to walk.
They are last in all of baseball in walks (256) and walk percentage (6.2 percent).
And if you go deeper into the statistics, you'll see just how much of a free-swinging, hacking team the Royals are: Only Seattle has seen fewer pitches this season than the Royals.
According to baseball-reference.com, the Royals have seen 15,464 pitches (65 more than Seattle), which is almost 1,800 fewer pitches than Boston, which has seen the most. Boston is fourth in baseball in walks with 384.
It is probably no coincidence that Oakland has drawn the most walks (412), seen the fourth-most pitches (16,815) and scored the most runs (548) in all of baseball. The A's, ahem, also have baseball's best record.
Alex Gordon is the most patient of all Royals hitters, seeing an average of 4.11 pitches per plate appearance. He is the only Royals hitter in the top 40 in baseball in that category.
The most impatient Royals hitter? As you might have guessed: Sal Perez.
Only three players with more than 300 plate appearances have seen fewer pitches per plate appearance than Perez, who is at 3.37. The worst is Houston's Jose Altuve at 3.17.
Another reason the Royals don't walk much or see many pitches: They can't seem to distinguish what is and isn't a strike. According to fangraphs.com, the Royals swing at pitches outside the strike zone 32.8 percent of the time. Only four teams are worse in that category.
Perez, again, is the biggest culprit. He swings at pitches outside the strike zone 43.6 percent of the time, which is probably why he has walked only 19 times this year.
Fun fact: Brett Hayes, who was recently released and outrighted to Omaha, swung at pitches outside the zone 64.1 percent of the time with the Royals this season. Whoa.
And while the Royals seem to swing at everything, they also don't miss much. They have struck out the least of any team in baseball, at just a 15.9 percent clip.
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What does it all mean?
Just what Royals fans have seen all season: An impatient team that doesn't hit for power, yet swings at just about everything, and struggles mightily to score (13th in the American League in runs).
Not a great combination. And no doubt the main reason the Royals aren't leading the division or the wild-card chase.