The Kansas City Royals improved to 16-4 since the All-Star break with a win over the Boston Red Sox Thursday. This team's current level of play has been impressive over the past three weeks, some of the best I have seen in my lifetime (I'm not very old).
Some of the hitters have put up strong numbers during the run, but no one is doing a Yasiel Puig impersonation. The pitchers, on the other hand, have almost all been spectacular, helped by some solid defense.
Below are a collection of statistics I found interesting/pertinent about the Royals performance since the ASB:
Runs Scored 87, Runs Allowed 53 (Pythagorean W-L: 14-6)
Some element of luck is involved whenever a team plays .800 baseball over a three-week span, and the Royals are no different. The team has is two games ahead of their Pythagorean record for the second half of the season, but they still own a strong run differential. I have no idea how long this run can continue, but the Royals improvement since the All-Star Break seems more substantial than lucky run sequencing.
Eric Hosmer - .333/.367/.488 Mike Moustakas: .304/.364/.536
The BFSE is attempting to make a comeback, and these two have led the charge. Hosmer has recovered nicely from his slow start and has been the best hitter on the Royals this season, while Moustakas inches his way towards a respectable slash line for the season.
It's nice to see these two contributing offensively during this run, because it's easier to dream that this team is actually improving and the three week stretch is more than a flash in the pan. Moustakas still has to establish himself as an above-average major league hitter for more than a few months while Hosmer's struggles are still recent memories, but maybe these guys are starting to put it together.
Billy Butler - .313/.397/.448
Butler has been the other key offensive contributor during the winning streak. The DH hasn't performed up to his own expectations this season, as his wRC+ is the lowest it has been since 2008. Butler has maintained an impressive K/BB ratio despite his "struggles," so I'm hopeful he will continue to swing the bat much better in the second half of the season.
Miguel Tejada - .315/.345/.407
I will not pretend to understand Tejada's performance, nor take a guess at how long it can continue. Right now we all owe Dayton and Tejada an apology, even if the original signing still makes no sense.
Alcides Escobar - .203/.210/.215
Escobar has somehow managed to hit worse during the winning streak than he did in the first half. His wRC+ has fallen to 53, and he's barely been above replacement level. His .266 BABIP suggests he has been the victim of bad luck, but Escobar doesn't exactly crush the ball when he makes contact. It's a good thing Escobar is signed to a team-friendly deal and has no obvious replacement, otherwise there would be more calls to replace him at SS.
Starting Pitchers 12-3, 125 2/3 IP, 2.44 ERA
While the hitters have looked better, the starters have been absolutely incredible during this three week stretch. James Shields, ironically, has the worst ERA of the group at 4.15 after his start against the Minnesota Twins.
It doesn't take a genius to suggest a starting rotation that employs Jeremy Guthrie, Bruce Chen and Wade Davis has no business sustaining a 2.44 ERA through September. All we can do is hope that somehow the other shoe doesn't drop.
Bruce Chen - 1.40 ERA, 25 2/3 IP, 19 K, 3 BB, .176 BABIP
Chen deserves his own breakdown; he's been absolutely on fire since rejoining the starting rotation. Having a 6:1 K/BB ratio certainly helps, but his .176 BABIP has been the key factor in his sub-2.00 ERA. The Royals have played strong defense this year, but Chen will start allowing more hits, so enjoy this while it lasts.
Royals Bullpen - 2.03 ERA, 62 IP, 65 K, 16 BB
The bullpen has been an asset for Kansas City all season, especially so during this run. Having Louis Coleman instead of J.C. Gutierrez helps, which should have been obvious from the beginning. The bullpen probably doesn't have to be this good to keep the Royals in the playoff hunt, but it needs to be close.
Teams are never as good as they look during winning streaks, and the Royals will not play .800 baseball during the last two months of the season. Hopefully some of the players who have helped the Royals play .800 baseball for three weeks can continue the performance and somehow keep this team in contention.