Great Lakes Royals

September 23, 2009 3:52 PM

Greinke Powers Royals to 63rd victory; team avoids 100 loss season

Yuniesky Betancourt deal successful!  After all, if the goal of every team at the start of the year isn't to lose less than 100 games, I don't know how anyone ever accomplishes their goals.

In all seriousness, it's a remarkable turnaround for a team that two and a half weeks ago looked like it would never be able to correct four straight months of awful play.  There are six different offensive players on the Royals who have an OPS above .840 in the last 30 games, and three of them have done it in a sample of greater than 100 ABs: Billy Butler, David DeJesus, and Alberto Callaspo.  Those three have been the only above average performers all year for the Royals offense, but if you look closely, Alex Gordon is salvaging an otherwise lost season, Mitch Maier looks like a real, live big league outfielder, and who can stop Miguel Olivo at this point?

All of a sudden, the Royals will enter next year with a bunch of offensive pieces to the puzzle, including Brayan Pena at Catcher, Butler at first base, Gordon at third base, Callaspo somewhere (the fact that he's nominally a second baseman offers a bunch of options, even if none are ideal), DeJesus in the outfield, and Maier preferably off the bench, though at worst in a platoon role.  If the Royals can just find a way to bring Coco crisp back, that's not a bad 1-6 in the lineup.  In any lineup.

Of course, yes, the rest of the team is still an offensive sinkhole.  But what if Mike Aviles returns to form next year?  That's not likely, but let's say he wins the second base job outright.  There's promise here:

RF-Guillen (or someone)
C-B. Pena

Yeah, we're asking a lot to go right here, and the Royals should seriously consider DFAing Jose Guillen out of spring training, but considering that the only player on this list who would cost the Royals anything additional would be Crisp (assuming the team buys out his contract at 500k instead of paying the 8 million), that's not an unreasonable lineup for next season.

The key to the offseason may be trying to flip Mark Teahen to someone for a mid-level catching prospect or a second baseman with some plate discipline.

Anyway, back to Greinke.

He's been nothing short of remarkable since the middle of August, which is not surprising in the least.  In a six month season, it was completely unrealistic to expect Zack to remain focused while pitching for the Kansas City Royals.  And he had some rough starts in June and July.  But with his performance over the last month and a half, Greinke has regained a stranglehold on the AL Cy Young race.  In fact, it's probably over.

At this point, not even the national media is standing as a obstacle to Greinke winning the award.  He's the top story on SportsCenter today.  I think a lot of people were just waiting for him to finally beat either the Red Sox or the Yankees before they gave in to the hype, and after going 6 scoreless against Boston yesterday, I think the general consensus is that he's passed every test.

I don't think anyone was ever going to hold his lack of wins against him, but it's a convenient dismissal of Greinke should a voter want to reward another player with the Cy Young.  ESPN fabricated a stat last night on Baseball Tonight called "Great Starts", which they defined as having 7+ IP and 2 or fewer ER.  Felix Hernandez had Greinke completely lapped in that category, but it just shows how hard you had to try to use something that isn't wins against Greinke's candidacy.

If CC Sabathia wins his final two starts, Greinke is going to lose votes to the 20 game winner.  Fittingly, Sabathia's final start of the regular season is scheduled to come against the Kansas City Royals, against Robinson Tejada.  But even if Greinke does lose some votes to Sabathia, he's still going to get a plurality and win the 2009 Cy Young.

It's in the bag now.

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