The Royals’ month of April was almost exactly how I would have scripted it, if someone came along and asked me to script how this season would start. (And yes, I understand that, much like the hypothetical situation of someone putting a gun to your head and demanding that you choose a single breakfast cereal for the rest of your life, it seems bizarre and unlikely that someone would have asked me to write a movie about the first month of the Royals’ 2014 season.) But had it happened, I would have gotten it mostly pretty close.
I would have thought that finishing the month 14-12 and in second place of the AL Central would have been about right; this is, after all, a team that I’ve continually said is only slightly above average.
I would have also predicted that the offense would struggle and the bullpen wouldn’t be as good as it was last year. Check, and check. (The less said about White Sox rookie phenom Jose Abreu finishing April with more homeruns than the entire Royals squad, the better, and this bullpen—with the exception of the closer—is shakier than an epileptic at a Pink Floyd laser-light show.)
But I’m happy to report, however, that I’ve been wrong, too.
Going into the year, I thought that the rotation was a bigger question mark than it actually has been. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite. It’s not surprising that if the Royals score four or more runs, they’ve yet to lose a game; this is a direct testament to Shields and Friends, and to some degree, the continued dominance of closer Greg Holland.
Look, pick-off attempts are stupid.
There, I said it.
If you’d tickled me into submission, though—after putting a gun to my head, and reading the first draft of my terrible Kansas City Royals in April, 2014: The Movie screenplay—I never would have EVER figured that light-hitting shortstop Alcides Escobar would end the month leading the team in most offensive categories. And you wouldn’t have, either. This is both a testament to an unpredictably resurgent Escobar, AND an indictment of his terrible teammates.
He wasn’t the biggest offensive star, however. I’d give that award to Omar Infante, the newly acquired second-baseman who drove in 19 runs, better than any other 2B in baseball. He has been an IMMEDIATE impact player, and for a team with a long, sad history of awful second-basemen, he may prove to be one of Dayton Moore’s best signings, ever.
Yordano Ventura may end up being the best pitcher Moore has ever selected, too, and his April on the mound was every bit as good as Infante’s at the plate. His 1.50 ERA is best in the AL, and he’s given up only 21 hits in 30 innings while walking 11 and striking out 31. His pitch-efficiency could be a bit better, but I feel like kicking myself in the balls after writing that, because he’s TWENTY-TWO YEARS OLD.
I said it last year, and I reiterated it in March: Ventura will win the rookie of the year, will be in serious talks for a Cy Young by next (if not this year), and will be the ace of this staff for many years to come. His April was just a showcase, and goddamn it was fun to see.
The Royals are just OK, Infante was a great signing, and Ventura is orgasmic.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to finish watching KC look ridiculously inferior to the Detroit Tigers. April showers bring May flowers, and so far, fuck May.