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Why the Biggest Move So Far of the MLB Season was for a Coach

by Photo of Sam Cohen

How Dale Sveum has helped put the Royals back on the map

Why the Biggest Move So Far of the MLB Season was for a Coach

 

The Kansas City Royals haven't made the playoffs since 1985. The team has two winning seasons since 1995 and their 86 wins last season were their most for the franchise since 1989. But this year's Royals team is different. A team filled with young players with a lot of potential, almost all of whom they drafted, the Royals are finally putting it together after so many years of misery. 

The Royals pitching staff and bullpen have been getting it done all year. Veterans James Shields and Jason Vargas have been very solid while youngsters Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy look like seasoned veterans. Closer Greg Holland has been electric once again. The hitters, however, got off to a terrible start, not an unusual sight for Royals fans. The struggles of key players such as Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, and Salvador Perez were tough to watch and Mike Moustakas was so bad that he was sent down to the minors. The team was last in home runs, slugging percentage, and runs scored when they decided to fire hitting coach Pedro Grifol at the end of May and replace him with former Cubs manager Dale Sveum.

Now imagine pitchers actually fearing the Royals lineup. Hard to picture, right? Well the Royals are one of the hottest offensive teams in Baseball. They are so hot, in fact, that they are in first place in the AL Central, ahead of a Detroit Tigers team that is considered by many to be the best team in the MLB. Last night, they lit up Max Scherzer, the reigning AL Cy Young winner, for ten earned runs. 

The team has a 13-4 record in June and during the month, Alcides Escobar is hitting .426, Perez is hitting .368, Butler is hitting .340, Gordon is hitting .315 with a lot of power, and Hosmer is slowly putting it together. Even Moustakas has looked better since being recalled. The club is hitting with more power and authority while striking out less and drawing more walks. 

None of this is a coincidence, either. Dale Sveum has helped the Royals hitters focus on the upper half of their bodies more, mainly their head and hands. This has led to cleaner swings and more balls in play. He has gotten a team full of young players to buy into what he was teaching them and the Royals are finally a dangerous team. 

The pitching staff, bullpen, and defense should continue to excel but if the team's hitters can continue to produce runs, this will be one of the most dangerous teams in Baseball. Hiring Dale Sveum has so far proved to be the biggest move a team has made this season, but only time will tell if it will be a franchise-changing move. So far, so good for the Royals and their fans.

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