Commentary

A Royal waste of at-bats

Kansas City must learn the virtue of working the count

Originally Published: February 27, 2009
By Matt Meyers | ESPN The Magazine
Back in October, Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore said, "We have to understand the importance of on-base percentage." Therefore, you're forgiven if you were a bit perplexed that Moore's biggest acquisitions since then were Mike Jacobs (career .318 OBP) and Coco Crisp (.331).

In the past five seasons, the Royals have ranked 26th, 26th, 19th, 28th and 24th in OBP, and you don't need a Michael Lewis book to tell you that it's hard to score runs when you are doing such a poor job of getting runners on base. Beyond that, it's obvious there is a deep-rooted problem in the team's overall approach at the plate.

In short, the Royals have poor plate patience. They swung at the first pitch an MLB-high 31.7 percent of the time, and took only 51.7 percent of pitches, lowest of all 30 teams. This not only minimizes their chances of drawing walks, but also prevents them from wearing out the opposition's starting pitcher. As a result, they're facing fewer middle relievers (i.e. the worst pitchers) than everyone else.