To be completely honest, this opening series, did not go the way I expected it to on a lot of levels. There were many things that give reason for optimism, and some that give reason for pessimism (realism?). These are things that I took from the first 4 games.
Reasons to hope:
The Royals team slash line from the first 4 games is .262/.353/.450
While probably not something we can maintain for an entire season, I like it so far. The .353 OBA would have led the majors last year while the .450 SLG would have been 3rd. The AVG is 10 points lower than what we finished with last year but the others are considerably higher. Maybe someone up front can look at this small sample size and realize that higher OBA plus higher SLG means more wins even with lower AVG.
The Royals have taken 19 walks and have been HBP twice so far this season.
This was my biggest concern coming into the season and I can't even describe how shocking this stat is to me. I don't know how long it took the Royals to get to 19 walks last year, I'm too lazy to look it up, but I'm betting it was more than 4 games. Kila leads the team with 4, but I think that was relatively expected. Treanor and Betemit are next with 3 each. Through 171 plate appearances are walk rate is 11%. The only player with more than one at bat who hasn't taken a walk is Brayan Pena (7AB's)
The Royals have hit 6 homeruns in 4 games.
The only negative to this is that 5 of them have come with no one on base. On the positive side, two of them have been walkoff game winners. I honestly didn't expect this offense to hit their sixth home run until mid-April. The K isn't known for being a home run park at any point, but it seems especially worse early in the season. If we can hit the homers when there are runners on, this offense starts looking a lot better.
They haven't shown that lay down and die mentality that I have grown accustomed to over the years. the only time I really felt like the Royals weren't going to comeback in the entire series was when Rodney came in to close game 4 with a 2 run lead. The Royals managed to prove me wrong.
They have not been running themselves out of innings, stealing 9 bases out of 10 attempts. Spring gave me the impression that everyone was going to be trying to steal bases on just about every pitch, but thus far things seem to be going well with our agression on the base paths.
Jeff Francis. Great first start. The other starters I think we got about what we expected out of them. Kyle Davies pitched like he was Kyle Davies, Bruce Chen pitched like he was Bruce Chen, and Luke Hochevar pitched like he was Luke Hochevar. Jeff Francis pitched like he was the ace of the staff (which he probably is). If he stays effective and healthy he could bring in some nice prospects at or before the trade deadline.
The rookie relievers - the bullpen as a whole has done a very good job. Soria has pitched as well as we have come to expect from him, and Tejada has done a relatively decent job, but Aaron Crow and Tim Collins have been lights out when they've pitched. There are other posts on the site that have their stats so I'll pass on those details. Crow came into a bases loaded one out situation in game 3 and got through the inning with no runs scored. Neither will be able to maintain their 0.00 ERA's but so far they have performed far better than this writer has expected.
Walks - The Royals pitchers have combined to issue only ten walks in the first 4 games. I would be satisfied with 2.5 walks per game from this staff for the entire season.
Royals hitters have struck out 32 times in the first 4 games. 8 wiffs a game isn't going to get it done.
5 Royal errors in the first 2 games. They had 0 in each of the two games after those, but it still makes me flinch a bit. Those 5 errors only led to one unearned run, but this team cannot afford to give away runs.
The starters other than Francis pitched like themselves. If this team wants to win more than they lose somone has to take a step up and be better than they have been in the past.
The pitching staff as a whole gave up 9 homeruns in the first 4 games which makes those walk totals even more important. Most of the homeruns for the Angels were also solo shots, which helped dramatically. The overall WHIP of the team is high as well, but this staff is very hittable. It seems that they pitch better when runners on base. Perhaps the fact that Kyle Davies 2 strikeouts came with a runner on third and one out is evidence of this.