This will be something I intend to do once a week on an ongoing basis, and will usually post either Sunday night, or Monday morning, depending on my schedule.
Overall Record: 4-2
Record This Week: 4-2 (3-0 at DET, 1-2 at MIN)
Current Streak: Win 1
Upcoming Games: vs. NYY (3), vs. MIN (3)
A Good Start: I'll take a 4-2 week anytime. I guess I just didn't imagine the Royals would be 4-2 by going 3-0 in Detroit and 1-2 in Minnesota. It was a little disappointing for Kansas City to stub its toe against the Twins, but I think Sunday's 3-1 win was very important for the psyche of the team, as 4-2 just seems so much better than having to return to face the Yankees at 3-3 with a three-game losing streak.
A.L. Central Upside Down: For most people outside of Kansas City and Chicago, the American League Central looks like it's standing on its head. Preseason predictions fairly consistently had Detroit winning, with Cleveland second, and then a three-way scramble between Kansas City, Chicago, and Minnesota. But, after the first week of play, the Royals (4-2) and White Sox (4-2) are tied for first, with Cleveland (3-3) third, Minnesota (3-4) fourth, and Detroit (0-6) in dead last, and wondering how the heck this horrid start to the 2008 season is happening after it raised its payroll to $138 million during the offseason. Think the Tigers are wishing they hadn't traded Jair Jurrjens and Andrew Miller yet.
Gordon Gets Aggressive: During the Detroit series, the Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton pointed out that Alex Gordon was taking a more aggressive approach at the plate. Gordon, who struck out five times in the first two games against the Tigers, hasn't struck out since. His aggressiveness at the plate hasn't helped his OBP (.269) or his OPS (.807), as his line for the week reads .269/.269/.538, but he's making more contact. It'd be great to see him take more walks, and I think he will, but a six-RBI week with a double and a pair of two-run home runs should be fine with any Royals fan.
More OBP, Please: For having stressed the importance of OBP prior to this season, as pointed out in another piece written by Bob Dutton, I'm sure Trey Hillman would like to see a drastic improvement in Kansas City's team OBP of .284 during the opening week. The Royals rank last in the American League in that category, as well as ranking last after drawing just eight bases on balls last week.
This Butler Can Rake: As they say, Billy Butler can flat-out rake. Butler went 10-for-25 at the plate during the first week with three doubles, three runs batted in, and a line of .400/.400/.520. Butler's OPS+ was 153, matching that of second baseman Mark Grudzielanek, who had a .400/.455/.450 week with a double and a team-best five runs scored in 20 at bats. But infielder Alberto Callaspo's OPS+ was 169 after he ripped a double and a triple in nine at bats over the weekend in Minnesota.
Defense, or Offense?: Tony Pena was the hero on Opening Day, after he blooped an RBI single into center field to help the Royals beat the Tigers, 5-4, in 11 innings. But Pena hasn't reached base since, and owns pathetically dismal averages of .056/.056/.056 with six strikouts. With Callaspo's offensive abilities, and the fact that he's much more selective at the plate than Pena, it makes you wonder how long the Royals' front office and coaches are going to put up with Pena's lack of offense in order to get a bit more defense. Callaspo looked more than able defensively against the Twins, by the way.
Mound Presence: Kansas City's pitching was outstanding, as the Royals lead the A.L. in team ERA (2.67), wins (4), saves (3), shutouts (1), and runs allowed (16).
Soria Slams the Door: Joakim Soria would be hard-pressed to have many weeks more successful than his first of 2008. The second-year closer made four appearances, and registered three saves. He struck out the side in the ninth in two games this week and totaled seven, while allowing just two hits in 4.0 innings pitched.
Stat Twins?: Despite the fact that right-hander Brett Tomko made a relief appearance in Detroit, in addition to his start on Sunday in Minnesota, he and fellow righty Zack Greinke have almost identical stat lines. Both pitchers are 1-0, with a 1.29 ERA, have made one start, worked 7.0 innings, surrendered a solo home run for their lone earned run, and have walked two batters. The only differences are that Tomko has allowed seven hits to Greinke's six, and that Tomko has struck out five versus Greinke's three, plus Greinke has one wild pitch.
We Know He's Studying: It's so fun to watch Brian Bannister pitch. He's so smart, and I sit and wonder what he's thinking as he faces each batter. He completely baffled Detroit in his first start of the season, yielding just two hits over seven innings and striking out four. His next assignment will be just as challenging, as he faces the New York Yankees' potent lineup during Tuesday afternoon's Home Opener. I'm sure Bannister has worn out the DVD of New York's hitters in preparing for tomorrow's game.