Royals Monday Notes – Taking Down Giants

Apr 24, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals players Mike Moustakas (left) and Eric Hosmer (right) celebrate after beating the Baltimore Orioles at Kauffman Stadium. Kansas City won 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 24, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals players Mike Moustakas (left) and Eric Hosmer (right) celebrate after beating the Baltimore Orioles at Kauffman Stadium. Kansas City won 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports /

The Royals enter the week a half game back of the White Sox in the Central

The team heads to Los Angeles on the heels of a 4-2 home stand, thanks to a 6-1 come-from-behind win over the Orioles on Sunday afternoon.

The Royals have yet to lose a “stand” this season, going 4-1 on their first home stand and 4-3 on their first road trip.

Let’s take some notes.

Mike Moustakas Is Hitting Everything 

Mike Moustakas was an unstoppable force last week at Kauffman, hitting .375 and slugging at a .750 clip, while hitting two homers and doubling three more times.

For the season, Moustakas has a .920 OPS behind a .600 SLG% and is riding a 54-home run pace.

I’m just going to go out on a limb here and say that that pace is probably not sustainable.

However, since August 20 of last season, Moustakas has hit 17 homers and slugged over .600 during that span, which ranges over 55 games.

If you are doing the math in your head, that’s a better than 40-home run pace over a 140ish game span. Moustakas has averaged 143 GP over his four full seasons.

It’s obviously too early to really make any real judgments. According to ESPN, Salvador Perez is on pace to hit 36 home runs and play 153 games. The latter may actually be plausible, but Sal probably isn’t flirting with 40 bombs this season.

It’s early.

However, it is still worth noting. Moustakas was a blue chip power prospect at one point, so you gotta figure he has it in him. His swing is really the only Royals swing outside of maybe Alex Gordon that is really conducive to power.

Who knows? We’ll give it a few weeks and see where he is at then. If he’s still raking, we might want to wake Steve Balboni.

Early Royals gulf between production and results

This was a big week for the Royals, with their AL Central rival Tigers coming into town, followed by the Baltimore Orioles, who look like legitimate contenders early on.

The Royals took two of three games in both series and sit at 12-6 through 18 games. Again, for those of you counting at home, that’s a 108-win pace.

Is that sustainable? I mean, I’m not going to say no, but it’s unlikely at this point.

Although the rotation is improved, it’s hard to figure they’re quite as good as they have shown early on.

And you’re going to be hard pressed to win 108 games with Lorenzo Cain hitting .212 and Alex Gordon, Alcides Escobar, and Kendrys Morales all sitting in the .240’s.

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However, that’s really what makes this start all the more encouraging. Outside of Moustakas, Perez, and Eric Hosmer, the Royals lineup has played below their collective norms. And they have still set a 108-win pace.

After 18 games in 2015, the Royals also sat at 12-6. And that team was firing on all cylinders to start the season.

Long story short, I think that Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain are going to figure it out. Eventually, Escobar will be removed from the leadoff spot (hopefully) and we will begin to enjoy the fruits of his labor at shortstop without having to deal with him getting more at-bats than any other hitter.

And I’ll assume that Ken will start hitting as well, even if it isn’t at a Silver Slugger pace.

Once those things start to happen, there won’t be a lot of question marks in Kansas City

Ian Kennedy outdueled by Jordan Zimmermann

This was probably the most intriguing game of the week. Ian Kennedy and Jordan Zimmermann traded punches for 6+ innings on Wednesday night, striking out seven and eight batters, respectively.

Kennedy gave up two runs in his 6.1 innings, while Zimmermann shut-out the Royals in his 6.1 innings of work.

Zimmerman didn’t figure to be a great matchup for the Royals, making his results pretty predictable. The Royals don’t play well against deceptive guys like Zimmermann, especially when that deception is to the level of execution that Zimmermann provides.

Kennedy’s results were a little bit more surprising, given his history. Many people’s reservations about Kennedy surrounded the fact that he was slave to the home run ball in San Diego, one of the friendliest pitchers parks in baseball, and in the National League.

Coming over the American League, he would have to regularly face stronger lineups, including the Tigers, who threw a lineup of Ian Kinsler, Justin Upton, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and J.D. Martinez at Kennedy on Wednesday.

This is the second time this year that Kennedy has faced one of these power AL lineups (the first being Houston) and this is the second time he has pitched well.

In those two outings, he has went 13.1 innings and given up just three runs, while striking out 14.

If the Royals want to win the AL Central, this will have to continue.

Royals Already Ousting Contenders

Despite coming off of two consecutive World Series appearance, doesn’t it still feel like the Royals are the little guy, in contrast to teams like the Tigers and Orioles?

Both of those lineups feature power to an extent the Royals don’t have, but nevertheless, the Royals went 4-2 against that power.

So far in 2016, the Royals have played four teams that were either playoff teams in 2015 or figure to be contenders in 2016.

Next: Alex Gordon Heating Up After Slow Start

They are 8-4 against those teams.

The Royals are still the class of the American League.