KANSAS CITY -- With each passing game, Royals fans get more of a glimpse of Mike Matheny’s managerial style.
One interesting aspect of the Matheny way is the freedom for his hitters to be aggressive, particularly on 3-0 counts.
The Royals lead all of Major League Baseball in hacking on 3-0 pitches with 11 entering Monday night’s game against the Twins. The next closest team with swings on 3-0 counts is the Mets with eight.
The results of the aggressive approach paid off Sunday when Alex Gordon cut loose on a 3-0 sinker from Twins right-hander Randy Dobnak and homered to right field.
In all, the Royals have had 40 3-0 counts this season. They’ve had 29 takes, resulting in nine four-pitch walks and 20 called strikes.
Matheny’s philosophy on the green light?
“I think there are different ways to look at it,” he said. “There are guys who can do big damage and I think it breeds confidence, especially if they see the 3-0 green light more often. Say you only get the green light once every four times you get to 3-0, which probably stretches out to two weeks of hitting. You won’t be confident in what you’re actually looking for and how selective you need to be.
“Giving some hitters the green light more often just helps them choose how they hunt for that pitch they can do damage with.”
Naturally, Matheny wouldn’t say who has the green light and who doesn’t, but one can assume hitters like Merrifield and Soler virtually have it at any time to their discretion.
“We’ve had a couple of times we’ve had relievers come in at 3-0 and we’re taking there,” Matheny said, “and there are guys down in the order taking on 3-0.
“It also has to do with where we are in the game, what the pitcher looks like, and sometimes it’s just a gut feeling. Sometimes you’ll get a pitcher who is really tough once they get you to two strikes, so if you got a 3-0 count, you maybe want to be aggressive there because that could be the best pitch. You don’t want to get to 3-2.”