The Royals on a tear. They have won 13 out of 17 and are enjoying an 8 game winning streak. Yes, the baseball season is long. Yes, the Royals, like most teams, are prone to streaks. So this begs the question. Is this for real?
I think it is, and here is why.
The Royals were able to survive April and May, despite historic ineptitude at the plate. They survived because a solid rotation settled into a great one, they continued to play some of the best defense in the league, and the one-two, bull-pen punch of Davis and Holland became devastating.
Since Dale Sveum took over as hitting coach, the Royals have done most of their damage against other teams starters. In fact, every one of those 13 wins were losses to starters with a combined record of 79-64 and a 3.78 ERA. Not too shabby. At some point, Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler and Alex Gordon were going to perform closer to their past levels. That time is now.
These wins have not been off of fluke heroics. This streak has been delivered by the guys in the lineup counted on to produce. Yes, guys like Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain are playing better than expected, but it’s not illogical to expect both of them to continue their maturity as big league hitters. Heck, if Omar Infante and Nori Aoki start to play up to previous performance, this line up will be even steadier. We can’t expect an extended role like the one they currently are on, but we can expect a much more solid attack producing over 4 runs a game.
This is also for real because the problems facing the Tigers are very real. Everyone knew the Tigers were top-heavy, but not many expected them to be so hobbled. They still don’t play good defense. I would take the Royals starting staff over Detroit’s at this point. No way thought I would type those words this year. Justin Verlander is no longer Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez is a DL stint waiting to happen.
The Indians are making last year’s success look short-lived. Their starting pitching has regressed, they don’t catch the ball, and their strike rate is too high. The White Sox are who we thought they were. A losing baseball team. Having good seats for last weekend’s games showed me how poor their routes are to fly balls and line drives. They also strike out way too much. Robin Ventura makes Ned Yost look like Joe Maddon.
Back handed compliments shelved, let’s give some credit to Yost. He’s a great relationship guy and his friend, Dale Sveum, has brought a less complicated message to the Royals hitters. It seems to be working. The usually stubborn Royals, quickly moved Pedro out of his role and had the right guy waiting in the wings. Baseball has been changing. While slugging is a critical part of the game, defense and pitching is more important than ever. The Royals have invested in their arms and gloves. They deserve some credit.
I have lambasted Mike Moustakas for his immaturity, but am liking what I’m seeing. After botching a sure-fire double play ball against the White Sox, he bounced back. He made 2 excellent plays later in the game, and blasted a no doubter into the right field bleachers. After taking a grounder off his dome last night, he joked about watching too much of the World Cup. You gotta like that humility.
The Royals are coming together as the rest of the AL Central is unraveling. Yes, this is for real.