warning-track power: “The ability of a batter who has enough strength to hit a ball to the warning track but not enough to hit a home run.” —The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, Third Edition
In the sixth inning of the Royals’ 6-2 loss to the Angels on May 14th, Billy Butler hit a home run to right-center. In the ninth inning of the Royals' 4-2 victory over the Cardinals last night, Jeff Francoeur hit a home run to left to tie the game. Between those two blows, the Royals went 14 full games without a home run by a regular, hitting only two as a team (both by Miguel Tejada).
As Joe Posnanski pointed out, that stretch of not hitting homers left the Royals susceptible to some unflattering comparisons; Dioner Navarro, for example, outdid Kansas City's two-week tater total in a single game. But maybe we're focusing too much on which side of the outfield fence the Royals' flies fell on. By my count, in those 14 games the Royals hit 13 balls—on the fly!—to the warning track, that strip of dirt in front of the fence that warns KC sluggers, “Careful, a few more feet and you might make Jack Maloof mad.” In a different ballpark, with a more favorable breeze or a bounce off Michael Bourn, some of those balls might have ended up on the other side of the wall. And who's to say why the wall was where it was, as opposed to a few feet farther in?
So instead of drawing arbitrary distinctions between outfield flies, we should recognize the Royals who might have hit homers, if not for where the walls were. Here are the highlights of the team's two weeks of warning track power.
Eric Hosmer hit the warning track twice:
As did Alex Gordon
And Alcides Escobar:
Billy Butler did, it by about an inch:
And so did Salvador Perez:
Francoeur did it:
David Lough did it:
And, believe it or not, both Chris Getz
And Jarrod Dyson did it:
Which leaves Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, George Kottaras, and Elliot Johnson as the only Royals position players without even warning track power since the middle of May. To them, I give the gift of Royals broadcaster Rex Hudler's condescending encouragement: