Thursday, April 7, 2011

The first week

With the Royals enjoying the day off it seems like the perfect time to reflect on the season's first week, in all its small sample size glory. The first six games remind me of the 2004 team, that team started 4-2 with three of its wins coming in the final at bat, that team would also end up losing 104 games. Luckily the comparisons end there, they began the 2004 season with six starting position players in the their 30's so they weren't exactly a young and upcoming team. After winning 83 games the year before they were the trendy pick to win the Central, which of course is kind of funny now.

Alex Gordon has carried his hot spring (.343/.459/.729) over into the regular season. He's hit .379/.419/.655 thus far with 6 extra base hits and has justified Yost's decision to bat him third, at the moment anyway. I'm pretty sure this is what dominating looks like. How long it'll continue is hard to say, he tends to go from good to bad at the flip of a switch. At any rate I'm enjoying the flood of people piling back onto the bandwagon, of course at the first sign of a prolonged slump they'll be back in the Gordon is a bum camp.

I love, absolutely love, how Yost is using Jarrod Dyson. And the reason I love it is because he's using him exactly as I suggested back in February. I mentioned that Willie Wilson stole 24 bases in 1978 in games he didn't start and I thought Dyson was capable of pulling off similar numbers. So far so good. He is tied for the league lead with 3 stolen bases despite just one plate appearance on the year. As a team I was hoping they would run this year but I wasn't expecting this. Their 14 steals lead all of baseball and are 6 more than any other team. Their amazing success rate (93%) can't and won't continue but it has been fun to watch so far, of the twelve AL players with 2+ steals five of them are Royals. 

The Royals have walked 27 times so far, which also leads all of baseball. Last year, led by free swinging visionaries (Guillen, Betancourt, Ankiel), they walked 16 times in their first six games. I gotta tell you, this feels real and this is what we've been waiting to see for years, a team wide patient approach at the plate. Several rallies have been extended as players have been willing to take a walk whereas in years past we've seen guys hacking at the first pitch in crucial situations. 

Mike Aviles looks lost at the plate and in the field. The last time he started a season this poorly (2009) it was revealed he was playing injured, which I doubt he is foolish enough to attempt a second time. It's way too early to make a move obviously, given the sample size and his .105 babip. Of course his backup is coming off a 141 OPS+ season so he may want to start hitting. Chris Getz has looked much better than Aviles so it'll be interesting to see how the infield looks after Mike Moustakas is promoted. 

Yesterdays bullpen meltdown was disappointing but not a likely indicator of things to come. First Joakim Soria will probably never have an outing like that the rest of the year, and second I have to believe that Yost will shy away from Sean O'Sullivan in close games. The bullpen ERA of 3.81 drops to 2.59 when you remove O'Sullivan (please Moore, remove O'Sullivan), he's pitched 14% of the pen's innings but has given up 41% of the runs. 

Jeff Francis has been outstanding in his two starts (1.98 ERA, 1.09 WHIP), if it continues you've got to figure a productive left hander with playoff experience would be a pretty nice trading chip for Dayton Moore. 

1 comment:

Daniel said...

I'd like to hope Francis' nice start isn't smoke on the water...so that the Royals can have one competent pitcher in the rotation. I like the idea of him as a trading commodity as well, but given how poorly each of the other 3 have fared so far, they may force Dayton to do some crazy things in order to stop the bleeding, in addition to...

...hanging onto Francis even if a trade would be the best thing for the team long-term.