The month of April is over, so let's take a look back at how the Royals fared.
April record: 12-11
Runs scored: 77
Runs Allowed: 81
The Royals began the month raising a championship flag and collecting their rings in front of the runners-up, the New York Mets. That was enough to catapult the Royals to a hot stat, as they won eight of their first ten games. They split their opening two-game rematch against the Mets before sweeping the Twins at home, culminating in a thrilling walk-off on Sunday with Terrance Gore scoring on a wild pitch. The Royals were impressive in their first road series, taking three of four from their ALDS opponent, the Houston Astros. They dropped two out of three on their trip to Oakland, foreshadowing the troubles the team would have on the West Coast.
The Royals again looked impressive taking two of three from both the Tigers and Orioles at home. But the offense went cold on the next road trip swing, as they managed just ten runs in six games against the Angels and Mariners, dropping five of those contests. They ended the month in third place, four games behind the Chicago White Sox, firmly in the middle of the league, with the seventh-best record at the end of the month.
The White Sox are the only team that has pulled away at all in the American League at 17-8 in April. No other team is more than two games better than the Royals. No American League team finished the month better than a +24 run differential (Seattle)
Best Game: The walk-off against Minnesota was perhaps the most exciting game, but the most impressive game was a late inning victory against Houston on April 13. Houston was expected to be a contender this year, and the two teams split the first two games of the series at Minute Maid Park. In game three, Yordano Ventura gave up a home run to Jose Altuve in the sixth, and Luke Hochevar gave up a 2-1 lead in the seventh to make it 2-2. The Royals took the momentum right back in the eighth against reliever Ken Giles, with a two-run home run by Salvador Perez in a 4-2 Royals win.
Best Play: Terrance Gore. Speed.
Worst Game: The Royals offensive woes cost them dearly on April 29 against Seattle. Kris Medlen was shaky at first but settled down, and he combined with three Royals relievers on a one-hitter. However that one hit was a home run by Seth Smith, and with the Royals unable to muster any offense, the Royals lost 1-0.
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Mike Moustakas is eighth in the American League in WAR, according to Fangraphs. He has hit a career-high seven home runs in a month and hit .273/.333/.580, and has even been a bit unlucky with a BABIP of .233. The great thing is that he has not reverted to his pull-happy approach, and has consistently hit line drives to the opposite field.
Eric Hosmer leads the team in OPS in April with a line of .326/.368/.506, although unlike Moustakas, he has actually been BABIP-lucky at .361. Hosmer has cut down his strikeout rate to one of the lowest rates of his career at 14.6%, although his walk rate is also near a career-low at 6.3%. Hosmer has hit the ball on the ground at a much higher rate than in past year, suggesting that he is finding a lot of holes through the infield to spur his 18-game hitting streak this month, however those holes could start finding gloves soon.
Longest Home Run: Eric Hosmer's 447 foot blast off Nick Tropeano in Anaheim actually tied a blast by Lorenzo Cain on April 9 in Kauffman Stadium against Tommy Milone.
Alex Gordon is striking out in one of every three times at the plate, finishing the month fifth in the American League in strikeouts. Only four hitters in baseball have made less contact on swings this year than Alex Gordon. His batting average hovers around the Mendoza Line, but his .322 on-base percentage is still fourth on the team.
Lorenzo Cain has also seen a major spike in his strikeout rate, whiffing 25% of the time. His .589 OPS is the second-worst number he has put up in a month in his career. Fortunately, Lorenzo still provides value on defense.
Best Defensive Play: Alex Gordon may not be hitting, but he is still making amazing plays in the field, like this catch on April 21 against Detroit.
Ian Kennedy surprised many by signing with the Royals on a $70 million deal, but he has been fantastic so far, with a 2.77 ERA in April (allowing just one run in five innings in his first start in May), and 7.96 strikeouts-per-nine innings. Kennedy has been a bit BABIP-lucky, and his 4.17 FIP suggests he may be about to regress. However Kennedy is posting the highest flyball rates of his career at 44.8%, and with this defense, that maybe just the recipe he needs.
Wade Davis has seen his velocity dip slightly and hasn't looked quite like his dominating self. However he still has his nasty cutter and the Cyborg was able to keep any runs from crossing the plate in an entire month for the sixth time in his Royals career.
Chris Young leads all Royals starters in strikeout rate at 23.2%, but when he has been hit, he's been hit hard. He has the third-highest flyball rate in baseball, no surprise, but six of those flyballs have left the park. Young has allowed 40.8% of balls hit off him to be "hard hit", according to Fangraphs, the fourth-highest rate in baseball. It has resulted in a 6.12 ERA, the seventh-highest among all qualified starters in baseball.
Joakim Soria is still striking hitters out, at least one per inning, but his command has been off so far this year. He has given up runs in five of his twelve outings, including a three-run appearance on Opening Night.
Prospect of the Month: Wilmington first baseman Ryan O'Hearn is hitting .352 and has smashed seven home runs, the sixth-most in all of minor league baseball. Even more impressive is he has done it hitting at Wilmington's Frawley Stadium, one of the toughest parks to hit in. O'Hearn played 46 games in Wilmington last year, so the 22-year old left-handed slugger may be moved up before too long.
The Royals return home for a quick three-game interleague home stand against the Washington Nationals. They will travel to Cleveland and the Bronx to take on the Yankees before coming home to host the Braves and Red Sox. The Royals will then get to take on divisional opponents on the road with the White Sox and Twins before returning home to host Chicago and Tampa Bay.
Series to watch: Washington Nationals, May 2-4, Kauffman Stadium
The Nationals had a disastrous season in 2015, but have bounced back to get off to a 16-7 start this year led by reigning National League MVP Bryce Harper. Washington brings the best pitching staff in the National League and the Royals will face Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg, however the Nats were swept last week by the Philadelphia Phillies.
Promotion to attend: May 15 is "Dressed to the Nines Day" where fans dress up in their Sunday best to watch the Royals take on the Braves. It is also "Salute to the Negro Leagues" Day and the first 10,000 fans will receive a Monarchs fedora.
Other things to look for: Top pitching prospect Kyle Zimmer is expected to be assigned to Class A Wilmington to build up innings before moving to Omaha. With 20 wins in May, Ned Yost can reach 500 wins in a Royals uniform.