Friday, May 15, 2015

Division Leaders: AL Central - May 13th, 2015

AL Central
Kansas City Royals – 21-12
League Rankings, Batting – 3rd in runs scored, 1st in hits, 2nd in doubles, 1st in triples, Tied-4th in SB, 1st in fewest SO, 1st in BA, 1st in OBP, 2nd in SLG, 1st in OPS…oh, and 1st in HBP (shocker).
Well, where does one begin? This is what we’ve come to expect from the Royals: getting on base, swiping bags, and scoring runs. That’s pretty much as simple as it gets. Numerous suspensions and poorly-handled and/or misdirected anger aside, the 2015 model is humming along at a sustainable pace, and suddenly fans all over the country are taking the Royals seriously as a legitimate contender and possible heir-apparent to the AL crown, once more. There are a lot of hitters on this roster who are firing on all cylinders. For starters, 1B Eric HYPERLINK ""Hosmer (.326, 21 runs scored, 9 doubles, 6 HR, 27 RBI) is killing it, as evidenced further by his .967 OPS. There’s a confidence in Hosmer that isn’t exactly new, but it’s definitely reached a new level. Shortstop AlcidesHYPERLINK "" Escobar (.307, 7 doubles, 11 RBI) is picking up the pace in recent games, batting .364 over the past 7 days (22 AB), scoring four and driving in three. Third sacker Mike HYPERLINK ""Moustakas (.322, 22 runs scored, 6 doubles, 4 HR, 11 RBI) is continuing to fulfill the promise the Royals saw in him when they made him their 1st round pick in 2007 (finally, right?), and while his numbers in each of the past three seasons were far from All-Star caliber, he is showing signs that 2015 will be the year that it all comes together. In left, Alex Gordon is, well, Alex Gordon (he is what we thought he was!), batting .295 with nine doubles, four homers and 17 RBI. His .913 OPS is second only to Hosmer’s .967 for the team lead. Centerfielder Lorenzo Cain (.314, 23 runs scored, 7 doubles, 14 RBI, 6 SB) is ripping up turf in the field and digging trenches on the base-paths. Yeah, that’s what speed do. KendrysHYPERLINK "" Morales (.299, 26 runs scored, 11 doubles, 4 HR, 25 RBI) is producing runs at a significant pace, which is what was expected of him. Don’t let the paltry homer total concern you; all that matters, especially on this team, is scoring runs. Of course, the Royals have proven that they can manufacture runs the old-fashioned way as well as crush wayward fastballs. And even though they’re near the bottom in homers, they’re at the top in extra-base hits and on-base percentage. On that note, enter Paulo Orlando. The 29 year-old rookie spent a whopping 1,017 games in the minors before making his debut in right field, this year. Overall, he has not disappointed. How many players can you name who hit five triples before they recorded their first double? Strange, right? He’s slowed down a bit, batting-wise, but even if he is pushing 30 he’s still a rookie. It’s a safe bet that he’ll be established as a significant part of their offense by year’s end.
League Rankings, Pitching – 2nd in ERA, 3rd in SV, 3rd in fewest hits allowed, 2nd in HR allowed, 1st in ER allowed
OK, those rankings look pretty good, right? Well, they’re not. What I mean is that the rotation is, to be polite, struggling (Jeremy Guthrie, Danny Duffy, Yordano Ventura all have ERAs over 5.00), and while Chris Young has picked up some of the slack (0.78 ERA, 8 games, 2 starts, 23 IP, 19 K), it’s going to take a bit more than the brilliance of Wade Davis (15 appearances, 6 hits allowed, 2 BB, 14 K), Kelvin Hererra (13 appearances, 12 1/3 IP, 14 K) and Yohan Pino (6 appearances, 14 IP, 13 K) to offset that deficiency. Greg Holland is, of course, dominating (8 appearances, 9 IP, 6 K, 6 SV), but that rotation is still a glaring issue. Edinson Volquez is doing his part, to be sure (2-3, 3.19 ERA, 42 1/3 IP, 17 BB, 33 K), but Duffy needs to get it together and Ventura needs to chill the heck out (sorry; can’t measure anger with a stat) if this rotation is going to survive, let alone thrive. The offense is doing all it can do, but the starting pitching makes 1st place a precarious position for the Boys In Blue.

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