It’s still early in the season, but let’s be honest here. How many thought the Kansas City Royals would be playing the way they are right now? The truth is they are actually looking like a good baseball team.
The Royals are sitting in second place in the American League Central, a sight not seen over the last few years. And they are doing it not just by winning games but by winning series. They have shown the ability to bounce back after a loss, which is something that Royals teams in the past couldn’t do on a consistent basis. Plus, this team has shown a flare for the dramatic, winning 4 straight games early on in their final at-bat.
This is a young team that many felt were at least a year away from being a contender, and that may still be the case. However, this year’s squad didn’t get that memo.
The starting pitching has been solid, with Bruce Chen showing why the Atlanta Braves were once high on him. Jeff Francis looks like he is starting to return to form from when he was with the Colorado Rockies. Former number 1 pick Luke Hochevar is the ace of the staff, with Kyle Davies and Sean O’Sullivan rounding out the starting pitching corps.
One surprise has been the young bullpen, which had been a sore spot for the Royals in the past. Gone are the overpaid veterans who constantly gave up leads, and the calls now go to arms such as Tim Collins, Jeremy Jeffries and former Missouri Tigers standout Aaron Crow. Don’t be surprised to see Crow get a chance to move into the starting rotation at some point. They bridge the gap to Joakim Soria, who continues to be one of the best closers in the league.
At the plate, it appears the real Alex Gordon is standing up. The former number 1 pick had a disastrous start to his major league career. But a position switch from third base to left field after being sent back down to the minors has seemed to change Gordon both on the field and at the dish. Gordon is hitting .346 with a homer and 7 RBI’s, but more importantly is hitting in the clutch.
Veterans Melky Cabrera, Jeff Francoeur and Matt Treanor help pace the Royals offense. However, they are getting plenty of support from the young bats of Mike Aviles and the “Hawaiian Thunder” himself, Kila Ka’aihue. Of course, the offense revolves around the hitting of Billy Butler, who continues his rise in becoming one of the best hitters in baseball.
Behind manager Ned Yost, the Royals seem intent on putting the losing attitude to rest for good in KC. That whole theory of the Royals being a year away from winning may just end up happening a year early.
Written by C. James