The Kansas City Royals finished last season as the second-best team in baseball, losing in Game 7 of the World Series to San Francisco.
After Game 7 of this season, the Royals clearly have been the best team in baseball.
Kansas City is the only undefeated team left at 7-0 as American League Central rival Detroit lost its first game on Monday to fall to 6-1.
The Royals aren’t just winning, they’re bludgeoning their opponents. They have scored the most runs in baseball and have yet to allow more than five in a game.
As manager Ned Yost has said daily so far, the Royals are firing on all cylinders. The offense is explosive (homers in every game, six regulars hitting better than .300), the defense is airtight (only one error so far and two to three highlight-reel plays a game) and the pitching is suffocating, as the bullpen has not allowed a run yet and the starters are going the required six innings that Yost relishes. He knows if his team can get to the seventh with a lead, it’s almost like having an 18-inch putt to win a golf tournament.
Kansas City doesn’t take the field now believing it has a chance to win, it knows it’s going to win. The Royals are playing with enthusiasm and a swagger. It’s like a college atmosphere in the dugout and anytime the team falls behind, it immediately goes out and puts up runs to regain the advantage. Last year’s experience has paid dividends and it’s obvious they aren’t just happy to have been in the World Series. They want to win it this time.
A lot of writers, including me, thought the Royals would fall back, that last season they caught lightning in a bottle at the right time and rode a hot streak into the World Series. I picked them fourth in what is expected to be a four-team AL Central. My feeling was their starting pitching wouldn’t be as good without James Shields, the bullpen couldn’t possibly come close to duplicating last year’s historic season and the offense would spin its wheels and struggle to score runs, just as it did much of last year.
However, the Royals’ offense has piled up runs at a stunning pace. Newcomers Kendrys Morales and Alex Rios have been the second coming of Babe Ruth through seven games. Unfortunately, it was announced today that Rios is out with a broken hand.
Edinson Volquez, in his only start so far, looked like Cy Young in his Royals debut. We haven’t even seen Luke Hochevar back yet as he’s still fine-tuning, and don’t forget that former Braves ace Kris Medlen could be available around July 1. When healthy, he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball, but Atlanta grew weary of waiting on him. The Royals are in a position where they don’t need him right now, but he could be a wild card.
Remember, though, baseball is a marathon and not a sprint. Yes, Royals fans, the team will lose at some point. They’ll go through stretches where they can’t hit and the bullpen will hand a game over. Other injuries are going to pop up as the long season takes its toll on the body. It’s inevitable because it’s baseball. It’s a sport that consists of peaks and valleys. But right now the Royals are peaking like no other team going.