Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
6. Zack Greinke
During the World Series parade and celebration a month ago, the Kansas City Royals players thanked quite a few people. One person who was conspicuously thanked was by Salvador Perez, who decided to thank Zack Greinke. Greinke, in demanding a trade, not only netted the Royals Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar, but brought back another prospect who was sent to the Rays for Wade Davis. Greinke certainly helped shape that 2015 team.
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Yet, it would be unfair to remember Greinke just for that trade demand and what those players became. He overcame battles with depression and anxiety to be a productive part of the Royals rotation in the latter half of the 2000’s, even after a mental breakdown almost led to his leaving baseball altogether. His success is rooted in the patience and understanding the Royals had in their former top prospect.
Greinke is also remembered for his magical 2009 season, when he won the Cy Young award despite pitching on a team that won a total 65 games. Stuck on mediocre Royals squads, Greinke’s overall 60-69 record may not impress, just as his 3.82 ERA and 1.264 WHiP seem to be about average, but he truly came into his own in 2007. During that time, Greinke recorded a 46-39 record with a 3.32 ERA and a 1.210 WHiP, turning into the ace caliber pitcher the Royals expected.
It is certainly fair to thank Zack Greinke for being the piece that allowed the Royals to get back three key contributors to the 2015 World Series winning squad. But let us not forget his contributions in a Royals uniform.
Next: A true Royals lifer