KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The season-long offensive woes of first baseman Eric Hosmer and outfielder Jeff Francoeur, and the late-season collapse of third baseman Mike Moustakas not only hurt the 2012 Royals in the standings, it also ultimately cost hitting coach Kevin Seitzer his job.
The Royals fired Seitzer on Thursday after his fourth season with the team. The rest of the Royals’ coaching staff will return in 2013.
The Royals were fourth in the league in batting average at .265, but were 12th in the league in runs scored (676), 13th in home runs (131) and last in walks (404).
“I just felt like the offense underperformed all year,” Manager Ned Yost said bluntly. “I feel like Kevin has tremendous energy, tremendous passion and he worked his tail off. But we just feel like there’s more offense in there and it’s time for a change.
“(General manager) Dayton (Moore) and I will discuss (replacement candidates). This was a tough decision to make. We thought about it a long, long time. We’ve got some people in mind but we don’t want to reveal that right now.”
Seitzer, 50, was drafted by the Royals and played with them from 1986 through 1991. He said he wasn’t shocked by his dismissal.
“Nothing surprises you in this game,” he said. “But I loved every minute I had with this team. These young kids on this team are great. I feel like they are sons to me.”
Seitzer, who co-owns the Mac N Seitz Baseball Academy in Kansas City, said he has no plans on leaving the area.
“This is our home,” he said. “(My wife) Beth and I plan on staying right here.”
Interestingly, while the Royals’ starting pitchers struggled mightily (4.60 ERA), the team opted to bring back pitching coach Dave Eiland.
Eiland was brought to Kansas City to improve the team’s ability to throw strikes, yet the Royals were next to last in walks allowed (586).
“From my viewpoint, and from the feedback from Ned, we’re making progress,” Moore said. “There’s a swagger to our starting rotation that hasn’t been there before. I like the talent of our rotation – we have to execute pitches better and throw more strikes, but the talent is there.”
Yost defended the decision to bring back Eiland.
“I thought Dave did a great job,” he said. “The main reason we brought Dave in is to help develop Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino. Those were two guys we thought that if they could get their mechanics straightened out, they’d be very productive. And they were having great years until they got hurt.
“Timmy Collins made some adjustments under Dave and had a great year. Bruce Chen did great. The only one who continued to struggle was Luke Hochevar. But they have a great relationship and they will continue to work to get it right.”
Seitzer will not get the chance to continue to work with a young offense that is bound to improve under any hitting coach.
Asked if Seitzer’s firing was directly tied to Hosmer’s year-long slump, Yost said, “It wasn’t just Hosmer. It was Moustakas and Francoeur. I just felt the (whole) offense underperformed.”
Yost suggested there was a difference in offensive philosophy between he and Seitzer.
“Look, Kevin was a tremendous hitter in the big leagues,” Yost said. “He was a much better hitter than any of us (on the staff). He was an All-Star.
“But his philosophy was basically stay to the middle of the field and to the opposite field. I think we got a group of young power hitters that are capable of hitting more home runs. Our offense (this year) was built more around singles and doubles and we drove the big parts of the gaps in our park.
“But it’s difficult to get three or four straight singles to score runs. We have to have the ability to open up our hitters a little more and use the power of our hitters with a quick strike. We would like to get a walk, a hit and then boom, a big strike for three runs. We’d like that rather than put together three or four singles each time.
“That’s the major difference in philosophy.”
Moore said he supported Yost’s decision.
“Kevin is one of the most gifted coaches I’ve ever been around and one of the best people,” Moore said. “That’s what makes it hard. We make these decisions together as a group (but) Ned has to have the final say and be the authority. He’s there with his staff day in and day out. He has to ultimately feel comfortable with his staff. I have to trust his judgment.”