If this Royals season was the movie "Major League" we're approaching the montage where people around town start loosening their criticism^
The Kansas City Star
Six weeks ago today, my column on the Royals’ winless opening homestand and what it meant for the future ran in the local newspaper.
Those were dark days, you surely remember. The Royals were garbage back then, fans jumping off metaphorical bridges, or, to plagiarize my more reasonable take from that column: “The future may well be bright, still. But right now, it’s tough to see through a windshield covered in manure.”
Anyway, I bring this all up because I mentioned in that column that Jeff Francoeur interrupted my conversation with general manager Dayton Moore to say:
“I’ve got something good for you. Wait and see where we are at the end of May. That’s my quote.”
Well, at the end of May I was draining Minnesota’s lakes of giant walleye and pike, so June 4 is as good as I can do and — all things considered — the man has a point. Check it out:
The Royals are 23-29, which is a pace for 72 wins. That number would be a disappointment, obviously, but consider that the team is 20-15 since the end of the local nightmare. If they kept that pace up the rest of the season, they’d finish 86-76. Split the difference between those projections — the Royals aren’t nearly as bad as losing 12 in a row and not quite as good as their 93-win pace since — and you have a 79-83 team. That’s exactly what I expected before the season, and would put them in good position going forward.
Eric Hosmer appears out of his own personal hell. The math on my Tweet from yesterday was a little off, according to the endlessly wonderful Baseball-Reference, so in his last 10 games Hosmer is this:
Hitting .368 with a .400 on-base and .605 slugging percentage. Now, as unlucky as he was getting at times during his slump — when he combined bad luck with an at-times desperate approach — he’s been running into good lucky lately: an unsustainable .387 batting average on balls in play.
But either way, it’s reassuring to see that as some of those uncontrollable factors even out we’re starting to see big results.
- The bullpen strength we all expected before the season is showing up: 2.97 ERA (5th in AL), 174 strikeouts (1st) and 200 1/3 innings (1st). It’s an interesting formula the Royals are trying, and it comes directly from their offseason plan.
Load the bullpen and ask a lot from it, in part to relieve^ a starting rotation (265 IP, last in the AL) that could use it.
^ See what I did there???
Anyway, there are still disappointments, of course. That rotation we mentioned, at least outside of the phenomenal Felipe Paulino. There’s still a big gap between how the Royals are hitting (8th in OPS) and how they’re scoring (13th in runs).
But, really, an organization that is finally at the point to be judged on wins and losses must be given at least some consideration on those wins and losses for losing two starting pitchers, the catcher, centerfielder, closer and setup man for either the entire season or an extended part of it.
Which is why I say that all things considered, Frenchy had a point.
^ This is my first ever asterisk from a headline, but of course, it’s worth pointing out that part of that montage includes the groundskeeper saying, “They’re still s–—.”