The Kansas City Royals are the team that doesn’t strike out.
The bottom of the fourth inning in Game 2 of last night’s World Series epitomized what makes the Royals the best team in the American League, and pretty close to being the best team in baseball.
Jacob deGrom is a great pitcher. He was the Rookie of the Year in 2014, and followed that up with an equally impressive All-Star season in 2015.
The guy can pitch.
He was 14-8 with a remarkable ERA of 2.54 (fourth best in the N.L.). He had the fifth-best WHIP in the NL at 0.98. Anything under 1.00 is amazing. And he struck out 205 batters, good for eighth best.
The guy can pitch.
He shut out the Royals for four brilliant innings. He pitched well in the fifth inning, but deGrom couldn’t put the Royals away. He kept getting two strikes on Royals hitters but couldn’t get that elusive third strike. Because that team doesn’t strike out.
That’s because they don’t allow pitchers to strike them out. They have a mentality to swing at the first good pitch they see. It’s the opposite approach of most teams that believe in going for a walk, stretching the pitcher’s pitch count, winning the war of attrition.
What that does, though, is put yourself in a bind because, rather than swinging at great pitches in the front of the count, you are forced to swing at pitchers’s pitches deep in a count.
With their approach, the Royals racked up the hits and piled on four runs in the bottom of the fifth, three of those coming with two outs. All of them coming on singles.
It knocked DeGrom out of the game. Not on pitch counts. On run counts.
The Royals piled on late runs in the eight on the strength of four hits, all four coming with two strikes as well.
In 2015, Mets pitchers were sixth in the N.L. in strikeouts.
In Game 2, Mets pitchers threw 36 pitches with two strikes, and got one swing and miss.
They are not looking for a walk.They are looking for a hit.
The Rangers need to pay the Royals hitting coach whatever it takes to make the move to Arlington.