Baseball is a universally black and white affair (hold the Dominican jokes, please), wherein a team plays 162 games during the course of a grueling regular season. If they win a small percentage more than they lose (typically, anyway), they stand a reasonable chance of earning a postseason spot.
Unfortunately, Royals’ seasons are often marred by some variation of the following sentiment: “if ONLY they’d won even HALF of the games they lost during the ___ game losing streak back in ___, they’d be in good shape right now!” (the blanks are usually filled as follows: double-digit figure, and usually April or May—and occasionally June).
This season, it was “12” and “April.” Early April, at that, thereby toppling the canoe only feet from the lakeshore.
And yeah, it’s a damned shame they couldn’t have won at least half of those games during the 12 game losing streak, but that’s impossible and so here we are. Another unremarkable season that will join its predecessors with cries of “next year, FOR SURE. I mean it!” and “they came on strong at the end—that’s GOTTA bode well for next year, AMIRITE?”
Well, sure. Okay. Whatever gets you through the night.
But the Boys in Blue put together a nice August, thanks in no small part to the following individuals. It is my pleasure to present to you the bestgoodplayers that August had to offer.
Jeremy Guthrie: When Dayton Moore acquired Guthrie as part of a good old fashioned Alabama shit-swap (and no, that’s not a thing, but I want it to be) for abject failure Jonathan Sanchez, it didn’t look like the kind of move that would make a difference. Sanchez was terrible, Guthrie was awful, ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on. But then something outstanding happened and all of the sudden, Moore looks like a secret-genius. What happened was, pitching coach Dave Eiland tweaked something here, and readjusted something there, and the next thing we know, Guthrie is looking like the 1st round pick who acted as the Baltimore Orioles ace for three-plus years.
In August, Guthrie had a stretch of 24 consecutive scoreless innings pitched. He no-hit the Chicago White Sox into the 7th inning. He held a potent Detroit Tigers’ offense to one run in 7+ innings pitched. In fact, he’s 3-1 (with two no-decisions—both Royals victories, though) with an ERA of 2.33 and a WHIP (walks+hits per inning pitched) of 1.03 in the past 30 days. Rather stellar, really.
In short, Jeremy Guthrie has been a very pleasant surprise. The good news is, he’s 33, can probably be had on a reasonably cheap deal (I think they should offer a 2-year-deal worth $15 mil, club option for a 3rd), and can provide a nice veteran presence on a mostly-abysmal staff. He could be the new Bruce Chen, only, you know, good.
Greg Holland: First of all, I like Greg Holland because he looks like a dude in an 80’s movie that takes place in New Jersey. There’s something about him that’s begging to be in a denim-jacket, the sleeves pushed up to his elbows, a Kool dangling from the corner of his mouth while he hangs out at a pool-hall with a bottle of Budweiser clutched in his scuff-knuckled hand. He’s squinting around the smoke, listening to the Jukebox play Foreigner—nah, fuck that– BRUUUUCE. He doesn’t want trouble, bro, but if push comes to shove, he’s ready to get it on. You think those knuckles are bruised from selecting books from the library shelf? As if.
When closer Jonathan Broxton was dealt to the Cincinnati Reds on July 31st, manager Ned Yost immediately named Holland as the replacement, and there probably wasn’t even any sort of discussion to be had. Greg Holland has been nails since he joined the big league club as a regular reliever in 2011 (he had three months’ worth of appearances in 2010 that were mostly forgettable). Since assuming the closers’ role, he has been virtually unhittable. In August, he was nine-for-nine in save opportunities, the Royals were 13-0 in games that he pitched, he had an ERA of 0.63 and a WHIP of 0.98.
Greg Holland is the best pitcher on this team and it’s really not even close.
Alex Gordon: It was previously established that Pitch Weekly writer Jonathan Bender has a great big man-crush on Alex Gordon. According to Bender, Alex Gordon IS the second coming of George Brett, despite early, disappointing returns.
This simply isn’t true. Gordon will never hit .400, nor will he ever be half as great as the Greatest Royal Who Ever Lived. That said, Gordon is having a fine season and seems to be progressing month-to-month. Half of his 10 homeruns came in August, as did 20 of his 58 RBI. He’s 3rd in the AL in hits (156) and leads the league with 44 doubles.
Perhaps most insane of all, Alex Gordon is now tied for 4th in the league in terms of WAR (offensive only) with 4.5 (for the uninitiated, WAR is “Wins Above Replacement,” meaning simply that Gordon is worth four-and-a-half wins more than an average player at his position. 4.5 is WELL above league average and quite frankly makes him one of the most valuable players in the league this year… Jeff Francoeuer is -3.4, by comparison. NEGATIVE 3.4!).
And there we are. The list is small, but powerful. Three men who any team would be lucky to have… well, at least for the past 30 days.