By: Ryan Knoblauch, who you can follow on twitter here: @RKnobsauce
Estimated read time: 4 minutes
They’re back folks! The Cardiac Kids that you can’t count out no matter how big the deficit is. After weeks of being in the cellar of the MLB they are now…well, the cellar of the American League. But hey progress is progress. In addition to that, TONIGHT they start a 3 game series with AL Central leading Minnesota Twins so this weekend is the perfect opportunity for you to get back into Royals Baseball.
As far back as 2 weeks ago the Royals were 10-20, had the worst record in baseball, and an offense that was on pace to historic lows. After winning 3/4 from the Tampa Bay Rays, sweeping the then 1st place Orioles, and all the while watching the rest of the AL beat up on each other, the Royals suddenly find them self right back in the middle of things. They’re still 6 games below .500 (17-23), but only 4.0 games out of the AL wildcard and 4.5 games out of the American League Central, with the series with the Twins starting tonight (as mentioned above).
SO what’s helped get the Royals back to this spot? Eric Hosmer is suddenly being Eric Hosmer again. The Hosmer haters were out in full force early in the season, critiquing his long swing, judging his star power potential, and I even heard people saying that he is an overrated defender who is just above average (WHICH IS ABSURD! Watch the man dig balls out of the dirt! It’s a feat made more impressive by the fact that he has to move HIS OWN gigantic balls out of the way first) But Hosmer not only regressed back to his career mean, he surged past it and is now hitting .290. Raising his batting average almost .070 points if just a couple weeks ABSURD (OK, easier to do since its so early in the season, but still, ABSURD!) He’s been everything they Royals hoped for and more in these last couple weeks.
Lorenzo Cain has been the consistent rock all season. He’s hitting, stealing bases, and playing great defense. He needs to stay healthy. And he also need to bat leadoff. C’mon Ned, let’s just do it already. This is something this team is missing and something he should be able to do well.
Mike Moustakas is on pace for 40HRs right now. Remember at the beginning of the year I suggested the Royals should throw some money at him once Hosmer’s extension talks fell apart? Yeah, that chance is now gone. Moose is showing some serious pop and having a great offensive break-out year. He’ll likely wait for the dat money $$$$ until the end of the year.
The starting pitching has played a part too. Danny “The Duff Man” Duffy has been great most the season, Hammel and Karns have provided some good starts (along with some bad), and Jason Vargas has been, in the words of Donald Trump, “PHENOMENAL” and before yesterdays blip vs the Yankees had a MLB leading 1.01 ERA (still as 2.03 after the bad start. ABSURD! (OK, that’s probably enough absurdity for one article.))
As, happy as I am that they are back in contention and once again exciting to watch, this is not the situation I want them to be in next month and a half when the trade-deadline begins to loom. Being a .500 ball club just out of grasp of the playoffs and A LOT of pending free agents does this franchise absolutely no good. As mentioned in my Royals pre-season review, this franchise is in need of some infusion of talent to their farm system. It has been depleted over the last 5-6 years by bringing up talented players like Hosmer and Moose, and trading other prospects to make perfect pieces for the World Series run (Johnny Cueto/Wade Davis). After many of these players have to leave during free agency, the 2018 Royals will look a whole lot different and the aren’t many prospects to bring up in the near future to replace that talent. They Royals have a little over a month to make significant progress towards a playoff and decide if they want to give these players one more shot at a title, or start over and reap the rewards of trading all that talent away. Standing pat will not do.