Everyone wants to be optimistic. Well, almost everyone. Hope springs internal and there was no shortage of hope in Spring Training. Maybe the Kansas City Royals could be sneaky good this season, despite some key losses in free agency.
There was also the thought that the Kansas City Royals could end up at the bottom of the American League standings while going through a rebuilding. This process would be similar to a few years ago, one that worked out in their favor.
I would say two straight trips to the World Series, winning the title the second time around, was a successful rebuild. Should have been back-to-back champs if not for Madison Bumgarner but I digress.
“Rebuilding” is not a word that fans like to hear. Many prefer the route that teams such as the New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins, and Milwaukee Brewers took last season. A mixture of both youth up-and-coming talent with veterans pieced in a winning formula.
There was a term that TCU head baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle once told me a couple of years ago – “You don’t rebuild, you reload.”
The Royals were hoping that might be the case in 2018.
So, here’s where things stand going into the last full week of April. The Royals are 5-15 (record should be better if not for bullpen problems) and look every bit of a rebuilding project.
However, there is some optimism as the calendar prepares to switch to May and it has everything to do with the lineup.
No doubt, the offense struggled out of the gate. Hitting in the clutch just was not happening on a consistent basis. Not to make any excuses but it can be very difficult to get into a groove at the plate when the elements do you no favors. Most of your early season games were played in the cold. They also mixed in with a few postponements due to “inclement weather”. Not the best way to start out on the journey.
Despite the weather, the lineup did show some signs of getting out of an early season funk and start putting runs on the board. There were plenty of times hitters such as Mike Moustakas, Whit Merrifield, Cheslor Cuthbert and Abraham Almonte were squaring up the ball but ended up with hard outs.
The tide may be turning if Sunday afternoon is any indication.
Moustakas extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a three-run blast. Merrifield had a solo shot and Almonte joined in the fun with a grand slam as the Royals earned the 8-5 road win over the Detroit Tigers.
What’s big about this is that the Royals offense looked the same as it had during the first month of the season, one that was struggling to do anything. They didn’t have a hit until the sixth inning when Merrifield led off with the solo homer. After that, things started to click.
Almonte’s Grand Slam later in the inning erased a 2-1 deficit, making it a 5-2 game in favor of Kansas City. The Tigers would later tie things up before Moustakas took an off-speed pitch that hung over the inside part of the plate for what would be the game-deciding three-run homer.
The Royals had an answer every time the Tigers would counter. That’s a good sign going into May and beyond.
Also, keep in mind that injuries played a big part out of the gate. Catcher Salvador Perez has yet to take the field this season due to a knee injury. Outfielder Alex Gordon later hit the DL with a left hip injury. Both are expected to return to Kansas City in the near future and both will boost both sides of the ball, in the lineup and on the field.
Important to point out that the temperature on Sunday was a sunny 56 degrees in Detroit. Interesting to see how this offense will do once the temperature gauge starts to rise over the next few months.
What do you think Royals fans? Is the offense starting to heat up a bit? Let us know below!