Kansas City Royals: Offense Heating Up as Trade Deadline Looms

Kansas City Royals 3rd baseman Mike Moustakas. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kansas City Royals 3rd baseman Mike Moustakas. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s no secret that the Kansas City Royals got off to a slow start this season. In fact, use of the word slow may be too kind. The word disaster might be more fitting for how the Royals’ season began.

The KC Royals went 5-17 to start the 2017 season and the trade rumors started to swirl. It’s fair to assume when a team is so awful to start a season that they will be sellers at or before the trade deadline.  To say the team struggled, however, would be an understatement.

The offense was flaccid at best and unprintable words at worst. In 18 of the 22 games played in April, the Royals scored three or fewer runs. That kind of run production is not what you expect from a team just a year removed from winning the World Series.

Fortunately for us fans, this team has a steely resolve and refuses to go away quietly. The last few games have given Kansas City Royals fans hope that are boys in blue are heating up.

The Royals have started the month of May with a 9-5 record. They won the first game of the month and then started a trend of win one/lose one, and so on. Little by little the offense started getting its swagger back and started playing Kansas City Royals baseball as we know it.

The team went almost a full month in between winning back-to-back games. They swept the Angels during the weekend of April 14th and didn’t have back-to-back wins again until May 8th-9th against the Rays.

Don’t look now, but the Royals are on a hot streak and now sit five games under five hundred. They are also only 4.5 games back in the division and 4 games back in the wildcard standings. The team is playing that familiar brand of Royals baseball that fans have grown to love. Timely, frenzied hitting, and are finally getting a little more pop out of their bats.

However inexplicable the phenomenon is, there is no question Esky at the top of the lineup is a game changer.

What do I mean by more pop out of their bats? Take the game on Sunday for example. The Royals were down 5-0 by the bottom of the 4th inning. They used a combination of frenzied hitting and a huge blast by Mike Moustakas to tie the game.

The Royals then proceeded to hit two more home runs, including Jorge Soler‘s first bomb of the season. This is the first game in quite sometime where I felt confident the Royals could complete a comeback and steal a win away from the opposing team. The way the offense has been mixing in timely hits with big fly’s has given fans morale a rise.

Riding the Core

While other pieces have been contributing as of late, such as Brandon Moss and Soler, they are not the biggest reason for the team’s success. A big reason for the recent surge has been the performance of the core from the 2014 and 2015 postseason runs.

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Guys like Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez and Eric Hosmer have been driving forces during this recent surge. Even Alex Gordon, who may as well be hitting with a limp noodle this year, has been providing eye-popping plays on defense.

However inexplicable the phenomenon is, there is no question Esky at the top of the lineup is a game changer. Since Esky was inserted back into the lead off spot last Monday, the Kansas City Royals have won six out of seven games. There is no discernible mathematical reason for this enigma, but in baseball, and in sports, it doesn’t always have to make sense to make sense.

Hosmer, who couldn’t do much of anything to start the season, is hitting .462 in May and .292 overall after hitting just .225 in April. Cain, Moose, and Salvy have been the most consistent hitters in the lineup this year, and continue to be. It’s too early to tell or not if the Royals actually will be sellers at the deadline. This core will play an important role in whichever direction the front office decides to go.

The KC Royals will take on the Yankees in a three game series beginning tonight at 07:05 pm. The Yankees come into the matchup with the second best record in the American League, trailing only the Houston Astros. The boys should have some confidence going into the series as they just swept the Orioles, who hold the third best AL record.