Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
If the phrase "chicks dig the longball" is really true, the members of the Kansas City Royals likely are having a difficult time getting a date this season.
Left fielder Alex Gordon leads the team with a measly six homers, and the Royals rank last in the majors with 38 total. Gordon's .412 slugging percentage also ranks first among everyday players on the team; of the 15 position players who have had a plate appearance with the Royals this season, 10 have a slugging percentage below .400.
Collectively, the Royals have a 31.5 percent flyball rate, which ranks 29th in baseball ahead of the Miami Marlins, and a 6.1 percent HR/FB, which ranks last.
The Royals have batted .246 with 16 homers in 35 games at Kauffman Stadium this season, but the ballpark shouldn't bear the brunt of the blame. After all, Royals pitchers have given up 38 home runs at home, 12th most in the majors.
Kauffman Stadium's HR factor of 0.892 ranks 21st in baseball, but it is only slightly below neutral.
Pitchers in the AL Central really aren't the cause either. Kansas City's four intra-division opponents, the Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox, have an opponents' HR/9 of 0.98. The major league average HR/9 allowed this season is 1.00.
The Tigers' 0.7 HR/9 allowed is second in baseball, but the Royals only have played Detroit six times this season.
It seems the Royals players are most blameworthy for the lack of power this season. Kansas City has assembled a collection of groundball hitters who only tend to hit the ball in the air when they don't make good contact.
Let's examine the five major culprits behind the power outage in Kansas City.
Eric Hosmer, 1B - In 2010-11, Hosmer hit 42 home runs in 1,141 at-bats at four levels (Class-A Advanced, Double-A, Triple-A, MLB). Since his rookie year, however, he has hit just 17 in 795 at-bats. Hosmer's 57.8 percent groundball rate is the fifth highest in baseball, and he also has just a 7.1 percent HR/FB despite hitting just one infield flyball this season.
Mike Moustakas, 3B - Unlike Hosmer, Moustakas has no issue getting the ball in the air -- his 46.4 percent flyball rate ranks 10th in baseball. However, he has not been able to drive the ball with any authority. Moustakas' HR/FB is 4.8 percent, and even if you remove his 15 infield popups, the third baseman's HR/FB would still be just 5.9 percent. Moustakas is batting just .110 (9- for-82) with seven extra-base hits and seven RBI on flyballs this season.
Salvador Perez, C - Perez is hitting .293 in 222 at-bats this season and .305 in 659 career major league at-bats, but he has just 17 career homers, including three this season. Like Hosmer, Perez also has a high groundball rate -- 46.1 percent. The catcher has hit .254 (15-for-59) on flyballs this season, but he has a 5.0 percent HR/FB and his extra-base hit percentage is only 6.9 percent.
Billy Butler, DH - Butler's doubles have been littering the gaps and peppering the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium for years, and last year he found his power stroke for the first time and hit a career-high 29 homers. However, he hasn't been the same hitter in 2013. Butler had a 47.3 percent groundball rate and a 19.9 percent HR/FB last year; this year, his GB% is slightly higher at 51.5 percent and his flyball rate is actually up one percentage point, but his HR/FB has declined to 8.5 percent. Butler has an extra-base hit percentage of .100 for his career, but this year he's getting extra-base hits at a rate of 6.9 percent per plate appearance.
Alex Gordon, LF - Fantasy owners were willing to overlook Gordon's mediocre HR/FB and declining extra-base hit percentage when he was hitting .340, but his weaknesses have been emphasized following a 10-for-75 (.133) slump. Gordon's average is down to .285, and his extra-base hit percentage, which was .097 last season, is just .071 this year. On his non-infield flyballs last year, Gordon had a 9.3 percent HR/FB (8.5 percent overall); this season, his HR/FB on non- infield FB is 8.5 percent (8.3 percent overall).