We all know the Kansas City Royals like to steal bases. Although they don’t lead the league in bags snagged, there are two very good reasons for this, I think:
1) KC’s Offensive Power Surge. They lead or are near the top in slugging percentage, batting average, runs scored, hits, and a few other categories. In other words, they haven’t needed to steal so many bases in order to manufacture runs.
2) Exposure. After seeing the Royals base-stealing clinic on the national stage last post-season, every opponent is being hyper-vigilant about keeping an eye on our runners.
It’s all good, though. (Look at the standings!) We may not lead the league in bases stolen (that title currently belongs to the Astros), but early returns indicate we just might have the crown when it comes to another, more important area: Steals in the off-season.
The Kansas City Royals made several signings that, at this point in the season, have had a huge impact on their success. So far, these moves make the naysayers look as well-informed as Jenny McCarthy is about medicine. And they make Dayton Moore and Ned Yost look like MacArthur Fellows.
There are four signings, in particular, that look genius:
Right here, you can read the insightful thoughts regarding one of those steals, Edinson Volquez. The Cliff’s Notes version is that Volquez has a 2.10 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP – both of which have him in the Top 10 in the American League. He has thrown four quality starts in five opportunities.
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Chief on my mind is Chris Young, the nearly 7-foot tall pitcher who threw five innings without giving up a hit in the Royals 4-1 win against the Detroit Tigers Friday night. His contract is full of bonuses and incentives, with a base salary of just over half a million bones. Granted, it could balloon to $6 million, but if he can perform anywhere close to the way he did Friday, that would be a steal of epic proportions.
Kansas City Royals DH Kendrys Morales was asked to fill some pretty big cleats when the team chose not to sign Billy Butler. At $4 million less than what Country Breakfast signed for with the A’s, Morales is ranked as the sixth best DH overall – and third in both RBI and runs scored. Maybe we should just start calling him Cuban Breakfast. After all, with a .313 average, compared to Butler’s .260, the only significant number Butler can match up with in a side-by-side comparison is home runs. They both have three. Thus far, Kendrys has cleaned Billy’s plate.
Lastly, there’s Alex Rios, who became the twelfth Royals player to get hit by a pitch in their first seven games. The 93-mph fastball from Minnesota Twins pitcher J.R. Graham fractured a bone in Rios’ hand, and Alex has been on the D.L. since. He is expected to return in mid-to-late May.
It’s obviously a small sample size to work from. Nonetheless, that sample has been strikingly positive. Many Royals fans no doubt have sentimental memories of Nori Aoki and his, uhm, unconventional approach at the plate and on the field. But I guess there are few who regret replacing him with Rios, even if he did cost the equivalent of the money saved on the Morales-for-Butler upgrade. Alex is a better defensive player than Aoki, and his potential to hit for more power is without question. We just need him to get healthy – and for the Royals to quit getting beaned like they’re sitting on the Toss n Dunk at the Missouri State Fair.