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Royals win with sabermetric-inspired lineup

Yost consults team statisticians for Wednesday's lineup; Royals score four runs and win

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Score one for the sabermetric crowd.

 

With his offense slumbering most of the season and completely comatose the past month, Royals manager Ned Yost turned to his team statisticians before Wednesday's game and asked for batting orders they thought would be optimal against right-handers and left-handers.

 

So, Yost wheeled out the stat guys' new order vs. a right-hander, which featured first baseman Eric Hosmer bumped up to the No. 2 hole in place of struggling shortstop Alcides Escobar, and which featured catcher Sal Perez in the No. 3 hole for the first time in his major league career.

 

The result wasn't exactly an offensive explosion – four runs on eight hits, with six of those hits being singles.

 

But hitting the four-run mark is huge for the 2013 Royals: With a 4-1 win over the Twins, the Royals are now 17-5 when they score at least four runs.

 

Let that sink in for a minute: 17-5 when they simply score four runs.

 

"I can guarantee you we're going to give that batting order another shot," designated hitter Billy Butler said.

 

"I know Ned wanted to get Salvy in that three hole. The lineup just seemed to flow. It's a good lineup. You got to give the stats guys a little credit sometimes."

 

Hosmer's shift to the No. 2 hole from the No. 5 or No. 6 spot seemed to suit him. He went hitless in four at-bats, but coincidence or not, he seemed to have better swings, including a vicious lineout to first.

 

"Hoz can do it there," Butler said. "He handles the bat well and sprays the ball around well."

 

Hosmer hit second for the first time this season, but hit there on occasion last season. He gave the new look a big thumbs up.

 

"We're one for one with this lineup," Hosmer said. "We're just trying to produce runs to help our pitching staff.

 

"Yeah, I've hit in the No. 2 hole a lot in my life. Did it in high school a lot, basically my whole junior and senior years. I did it last year here a few times. It's nothing new to me.

 

"I'm comfortable with that."

 

Told that the new batting order was the creation of the team's sabermetric department, Hosmer smiled and shook his head.

 

"I don't even know what that stuff means," he said. "But we'll take whatever we can get."

 

The new order – Alex Gordon, Hosmer, Perez, Butler, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, David Lough, Chris Getz and Escobar – actually isn't much different from what Yost has tried before.

 

And Yost already had mentioned moving Perez into the third spot before Perez left the team 10 days ago on bereavement leave.

 

"We won a baseball game, so we like it," Yost said. "We've been talking about the importance of scoring four runs. We like our pitching staff and we feel if we can get three or four runs, we've got a great chance to win."

 

Might there be a bonus for the Royals' stat guys?

 

"Not yet," Yost said. "We'll see how it works."

 

You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at jeffreyflanagan6@gmail.com.