24-50 never looked this good. Out in Cleveland, the Indians hold a 33-41 record, which considering context is miles worse than anything the Royals have done this season. Likewise, the recently departed Brewers head out of town with a 37-39 mark and more despair than hope.
Thanks to another successful weekend, the Royals are now 7-3 in their last ten games and a somewhat respectable 15-20 at home. After a rough two month stretch, the Royals have seen modest improvement from the pitching staff and the lineup, adding up to a much better on-field product. Some random look doesn't hurt either.
In June the Royals team ERA is 4.86, 20th in baseball and better than more highly respected staffs like the White Sox (4.92) and St. Louis (6.14). In the last 7 days, the team ERA is at 3.83 (11th), buoyed by a Batting Average Allowed of .260, a surprising 9th best in baseball. Could it be that the Gathright signing is already reaping benefits on the defense? Doubtful, but its certainly something to monitor.
The BAA is critical, considering the Royals' staff still isn't getting strikeouts (30th in baseball on the month), while ranking fairly high in walks allowed (82, 6th most).
Individually, in the last 7 days, Buddy Bell's favorite pitcher Elmer Dessens has posted a 0.00 ERA in 4.2 innings pitched, galvanizing the top-end of the bullpen. Similarly, Royals Review favorite Jimmy Gobble has also been perfect, throwing 4 scoreless innings. Purported "Closer" Burgos has been predictably mercurial, but nevertheless decent, allowing only 1 run in 3.1 innings, good for a 2.70 ERA.
As for the starters, Mark Redman is 2-0 with a 3.75 ERA on the week, alongside good individual starts from Wood and Elarton. The June ERAs for the starters look like this:
Redman: 3.74 (33.2 IP)
Keppel: 5.33 (25.1 IP)
Wood: 3.68 (22.0 IP)
Elarton: 4.64 (21.1 IP)
Duckworth: 4.96 (16.1 IP)
The Cardinals have won the NL Central two straight seasons with basically this level of performance. And this they're all alright kind of staff is probably what Allard envisioned during the offseason, only with Greinke, Runelyvs and Joe Mays in there somewhere. For all the things the Royals have done wrong in the last three years, the fact that they've patched together an adequate starting staff from scraps is worth noting, and celebrating.
Now remember, thats still not a good staff. But in the AL, it won't kill you either. Importantly, if things hold up like this, the Royals won't have to worry about losing 120 games.
At the plate, the Royals have been led by John Buck's .907 OPS in June, including his .510 slugging, which also leads the team. As with the staff, this is the version of John Buck we've all been waiting/hoping for, especially considering he's raised his BA to .286 on the month (he's good for a .180 month at least once a season). For the month, the Royals have also seen the return of David DeJesus (.309/.417/.444 in June) and a semi-OK Emil Brown (.315/.378/.452 in June). Even old whipping boy Dougie Mientkiewicz has contributed, hitting .304/.390/.420. Again, its not a good lineup, but its not an awful one either. In June the Royals have scored 107 runs, 9th most in baseball.Still, the team is hitting a strange .261/.330/.376 as a team in that span, which actually includes the lowest slugging percentage in baseball during the month. The Lesson: the Royals have done a good job turning what little offense they've produced into a disproportionally large number of runs.
In the last 7 days however, the Royals have scored 45 runs, second most in baseball, while posting a more indicative .323/.424/.449 line.
Can Buddy Bell and his charges keep rolling down victory lane? Its hard to say. Offensively, in the best case scenario, the Royals throw three .800 OPS hitters at you and hope for the best. Out Machines Berroa, Gathright and whoever's cold out of Sanders/Brown/Teahen/Buck still infest the lineup, and Bell still favors a self-destructive Bunt at all Times attitude that kills rallies. The prospects for the pitching staff look better, considering that only Elmer Dessens is really pitching over his head.
Here's all that really matters.
Futility Update- Through 74 Games
1962 Mets: 20-54
2003 Tigers: 18-56
2006 Royals: 24-50