04/14/08 9:50 PM ET
Royals look to be more patient at plate
Hillman hopes squad takes more pitches to jump-start offense
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
His Royals aren't looking at enough pitches, Hillman said before Monday night's game against the Seattle Mariners. As a result, he believes, the Royals haven't exactly been lighting up the scoreboard.
"Shoot, we're averaging like 3.2 runs through 12 games," Hillman said. "That pretty much tells you what our pitching's been doing, playing above .500 with 3.2."
He's been doing his math. Through the first 12 games, the Royals were 7-5, but had scored just 38 runs. In fact, they had not scored for 26 straight innings until breaking through on Sunday against the Minnesota Twins.
Not only did the Royals rank 13th in the American League in scoring, they were tied for 12th in bases on balls and they ranked 13th in on-base percentage. OBP is a sacred statistic for Hillman. If you don't get on base, you don't score enough runs. And to get on base sometimes, you have to look at more pitches.
"That's been addressed [with the players]," Hillman said. "There's an understanding there. Honestly, you've got to be careful how you present that and how you talk about it, because the last thing you want to do is take your hitters' aggressiveness away."
It was suggested that scoring is down throughout the league because of cold weather. The Royals have seen plenty of that and, in fact, they had more Monday night at Seattle where it was 42 degrees.
"We've done our share of playing through cold weather, but, through the Minnesota series, the opposition did better with it than we did," Hillman said.
In three games against the Twins in KC, the game-time temperatures were 41, 41 and 37. In three games, the Royals lost twice in shutouts and were outscored, 8-5. In the two losses, they drew a total of three walks; in the 5-1 victory, they drew six.
"The bottom line is we're not taking enough pitches," Hillman said. "We're unloading the barrel on pitches that we can't do much with. We're swinging at pitchers' pitches in hitting counts, and that's not effective. So we've got to stop that right now, certainly with our next seven games on the road."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.