Zack Greinke is only 24 years old. It seems like he should be older than that. The Royals first round pick in 2002 is one month younger than 2006 first round pick Luke Hochevar. Since being taken with the 6th pick in '02, a draft later made famous by Moneyball, Greinke has teased and frustrated KC fans.
He dominated minor league hitters and and was continually being compared to Greg Maddux. He was gonna be the next big thing. After a very brief, successful minor league career Zack made his major league debut on May 22, 2004. He pitched 5 innings, gave up 2 runs, and was in line to win the game until Jeremy Affeldt gave up a 2-out game tying home run to Eric Chavez in the bottom of the 9th inning. Zack ended up at 8-11 3.97 his rookie year and gave up 3 earned runs or less in 17 of his 24 starts. He finished 4th in ROY voting and everybody thought 2005 was gonna be a huge year. Bret Sabehagen won the CYA as a 21 year old in his second season so why couldn't Zack?
And then life happened, that's probably the best way to say it. His 2005 season was a disaster and only later did we learn of his social anxiety disorder. Some fans wanted KC to trade him but the Royals, to their credit, stuck with him. And now that decision is about to pay off because he is going to win the Cy Young award this year. Thats right, I am predicting it. The Maddux and Saberhagen comparisons are going to be justified this time. After his Pedro-like dominance when he rejoined the rotation last year Zack is going to do it for the whole season this year. You can call me crazy ( and you probably are) but that's ok.
Zack is not the same pitcher he was three years ago. The slow curve is gone and his fastball has more zip. He is right on the cusp of greatness. I know my own projection was a modest 16-10 3.15, which is more generous than other projections, but I really believe he is gonna do better than that. So maybe I'm a little crazy but maybe I'm not. The talent has always been there so it shouldn't surprise anyone when it translates to results, at least it won't me.
With Meche, Greinke, and Bannister in the top three spots in the rotation KC could hang around the wild card standings most of the year. It could be 1985 all over again, hey stranger things have happened. I'm not going so far as to predict the playoffs for KC but Zack and co. are going to make it interesting.