Youth in Revolt: The 2011 Kansas City Royals (March/April)


In my next several posts I’m going to be reviewing this past season for the Royals on a month-by-month basis. I’ll discuss the team as a whole as well as highlight individual performances. I think it’s interesting to see how the team played and adjusted as the months went by.

That being said let’s get started.

March 31st-April 30th

Spoiler Alert: The format of my stats may look a little strange. For some reason they didn’t convert very well when I uploaded this post.

Starting Pitching

  • Luke Hochevar: W-L: 2-3/IP: 38/E.R.A. 5.68/K-9: 5.45/BB-9: 1.89
  • Bruce Chen: W-L: 3-1/IP: 35.2/E.R.A. 4.04/K-9: 4.79/BB-9: 3.03
  • Kyle Davies: W-L: 1-3/IP: 29.1/E.R.A. 7.98/K-9: 7.06/BB-9: 3.07
  • Sean O’Sullivan:W-L: 1-1/IP: 21/E.R.A. 3.43/K-9: 6.00/BB-9: 5.57
  • Jeff Francis: W-L: 0-3/IP: 34/E.R.A. 5.03/K-9: 4.5/BB-9: 1.06

The first month of the season showed Royals fans where improvement was most needed. The starting rotation went 7-11 and averaged a paltry 5.45 innings a start. Our opening day starter and #1* was Luke Hochevar. He didn’t have an awful first month, despite his statistics. Giving up 2.13 HR/9 innings certainly didn’t help him any.

*air quotes

Here’s a simple equation using upper level mathematics: Having to dig into into the bullpen before the 6th inning (on average) = Bad starting pitching and a tired bullpen.

 

March/April MVP of the month (SP): Bruce Chen - The “crafty lefty”  continued showing Royals fans that he has some innate ability to win games. Don’t ask me how he did it. I don’t have any more knowledgeable equations to explain it.

March/April Ugly Duckling of the month (SP): Kyle DaviesI don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but good golly, Davies was not good. He didn’t even average 5 innings a start. With as bad as he pitched, he could have at least eaten some innings for us.

Relief Pitching

  • Aaron Crow: W-L: 2-0/IP: 13.2/E.R.A. 0.00/K-9: 9.22/BB-9: 3.29
  • Blake Wood: W-L: 1-0/IP: 9.1/E.R.A. 3.86/K-9: 7.71/BB-9: 1.93
  • Jeremy Jeffress: W-L 1-0/IP: 10.2/E.R.A. 3.38/K-9: 10.13/BB-9: 6.75
  • Tim Collins: W-L 1-1/IP: 15.2/E.R.A. 4.60/K-9: 10.91/BB-9: 8.62
  • Kanekoa Texeira: W-L 0-0/IP: 6.1/E.R.A. 2.84/K-9: 0.00/BB-9: 4.26
  • Louis Coleman: W-L 0-0/ IP: 4.2/E.R.A. 1.93/K-9:  9.64/BB-9: 5.79
  • Nate Adcock: W-L 1-0/IP: 11.0/E.R.A. 2.45/K-9: 3.27/BB-9: 2.45
  • Joakim Soria: W-L 1-0/IP: 11.2/E.R.A. 4.63/K-9: 3.86/BB-9: 4.63
  • Robinson Tejeda: W-L 0-1/IP: 5.1/E.R.A. 5.06/K-9: 1.60/BB-9: 3.38

It was easy to predict the starting pitching woes before the season even began. The bullpen, however, was a different story. Lots of rookies. Looooottts of youth. Tejeda was the elder statesman and he didn’t even pitch that much. The overall bullpen statistics: W/L: 7-2 with 31 earned runs in 88.1 innings and a 2.85 E.R.A. It was the first time in a long time that we could have a little faith in the guys we had setting up Soria. Speaking of Joakim, he was 6-7 in save opportunities this month. Stay tuned on that, unfortunately. That story takes a hard left turn for awhile.

March/April MVP of the month (RP): Aaron Crow - “Uh, here’s the ball, Rook. See what you can do with it.” Crow had a great spring training so he got a shot in the bullpen. He proceeded to pitch 13.2 innings, win 2 games, fail to give up a run, and inspire the birth of “the Crow’s Nest.” Now there’s chatter that he may get a shot at the 2012 starting rotation. Be careful with our hearts in Kansas City, Aaron. We’ve been hurt so many times before.

March/April Ugly Duckling of the month (RP): Robinson Tejeda In all honesty Tejeda didn’t even have what could be considered an awful month. He only pitched 5.1 innings, but he gave up 3 runs in that span. Collins and Jeffress weren’t necessarily great but they were both rookies who pitched more innings that month. They might have been wild, but they were effectively so.

 Hitting

Avg./OBP/SLG/OPS with at least 40 AB

The Royals offense (meaning the players I’ve listed above) opened up their first month of the season with a .271 average as a team. Offseason acquisitions Melky Cabrera and Jeff Franceour didn’t look too bad but expectations still weren’t high as Royals fans knew better than to trust a small sample size of games. Alex Gordon was hot from the start and gave Royals fans hope that he might have finally figured out his hitting woes in what most considered a make-or-break year for him.

March/April MVP of the month (Offensive): Alex Gordon - It’s no question really. The entire offseason was spent talking about how this was Alex Gordon’s last chance to prove to the Royals that he’d been worth the pick they’d spent on him. He built on a solid spring training and began fanning the faint flame of hope that Royals fans had tended over the past several years. He didn’t look too shabby patrolling left field either.

March/April Ugly Duckling of the month (Offensive): Kila Kai’aihueThere are a couple of choices here but I think you have to say that Kai’aihue was the initial disappointment here. Aside from an exciting walkoff home run to win the second game of the season, Kai’aihue simply did not impress in this first month of the season. He had a lot of expectations thrust on him with the power and ability to take a walk he’d shown in the minor leagues. He was finally being given a chance to show his worth at the big league level. It just wasn’t starting off very well.

Overall

All the talk during the offseason was about how good the Royals were going to be in 2012. 2011 had almost been written off as another “stepping stone.”* Then the Royals took 3 out of 4 from the Angels in the season opening series before going 14-13 through the months of March and April. They showcased a bullpen that was both young, surprising good, and immediately overworked. It was clear the Royals needed starting pitching, but their offense and bullpen was not only keeping them in games, but helping them win. They played 5 extra-inning games and went 2-3 in those games. This looked like a Royals team we could get behind. They fought tooth and nail and stayed in games despite a lackluster starting rotation. They were a surprise.

*Losing season

It was a good start. Things changed…but how did they change and how did these changes affect the team? We’ll talk about it in the next several weeks.

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Tags: Baseball KC Royals Royals Seasons