Royals could go to Kendall in No. 2 spot

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Not that manager Trey Hillman’s lineup is going to make or break the Royals offense this year — it’s already obviously broken — but Jason Kendall has hit second the last two days and could be an option there in the regular season.
For what it’s worth, Hillman told the Kansas City Star that no one had an early lead on the spot, but he’s clearly considering his light-hitting backstop.
“I know his numbers have gone down the last three years, but we’re trying to get him to focus on keeping the ball out of the air,” Hillman said. “He can still handle the bat, and he’s pretty efficient in his bunting game. So that’s one thing we’re looking at.”
Kendall, as everyone knows, has been one of the game’s worst hitters the last three years. He batted .246/.327/.324 and .251/.331/.305 in his two years with the Brewers, and those OBPs were aided by 13 intentional walks, presumably all of which came with the pitcher on deck. He also tends to ground into a lot of double plays when he gets the chance, something that’s a terrible quality for a No. 2 hitter. He led the AL in that category in 2005 with 26.
It should be obvious that Kendall is a No. 8 or No. 9 hitter if he has to be in the lineup at all. Yet all indications are that Hillman hasn’t learned his lesson. The Royals last year got a disgusing .236/.278/.329 line out of their No. 2 hitters, with Willie Bloomquist and Mitch Maier receiving much of the time there. Having David DeJesus bat second and Billy Butler third seems like the Royals’ best option this year.

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.