Kansas City Royals: That Pesky Esky
The Royals just won their first road trip of the year, and pitching was definitely the major reason for this, but not today (at least as far as the starter Jeremy Guthrie was concerned). The Royals offense unloaded for 9 runs today (7 of which cam from the long ball!!!!!) in a come from behind victory of the Mariners. The Royals won what could be considered the rubber game of the road trip to improve to 4-3 on their tour of the West.
A lot of the success can be thanks to Eric Hosmer and his unbelievable week that could gain him A.L. Offensive Player of the Week, but the unsung hero of this offense has to be the play of Alcides Escobar! Escobar put an exclamation point on this today with his first ever Grand Slam.
Escobar is typically not the Royals main power threat, but early in the season he seems to do most of his damage with the long ball. This year is no different as he now has two homers on the fledgling season.
Where Escobar is really showing gains this season is his ability to get on base. As we all remember last year was a rough year for him with a triple slash at.234/.259/.300. This year Esky seems to be back on his path from 2012, with a current triple slash at .276/.331/.394. The most important of those numbers for the Royals is the middle one, On Base Percentage (OBP). Escobar’s career OBP is only .296. Where his increased batting average is helping this number, where he is seeing the biggest increase is his ability to take a walk.
Alcides has already drawn 10 walks this year. Last year he amassed 19 walk for the entire season…He has already halved that number, and we are only a 6th of the way through the season. His best season for the free pass was in 2010 when he was with the Milwaukee Brewers. But the thing to remember with this, was he was in the National League and hit 8th a lot. That left the pitcher behind him, so many pitchers would pitch around him to get to the pitcher. So these numbers are a bit inflated.
His best non-pitcher aided walk year was 2012 with the Royals with 27. It stands to reason, that this is also helping his batting average as he is now seeing more pitches, and thus capitalizing on mistakes.
If Esky has found his swing and success from 2012, once Billy Butler and Alex Gordon right the ship, this could be a much higher octane offense than we have been seeing. And if he can keep this up at least through the month we will see a much better May than we have been fearing this whole off season!
I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t point out another high point of the Royals so far, and that is the pitching of Wade Davis. Davis struck out his 29th and 30th batters of the season today to in route to a scoreless 8th. More to come on this late in the week, but I wanted to throw him an “Attaboy!” As I must admit, I was not a fan of his from the time we got him, but I must admit I am coming around.
And while I am eating crow I would like to also point out Johnny Giavotella drove in runs for the second straight game. This time in the form of a game winning three run homer. I have continually said Gio is a AAAA player, but as for now, he is really showing his worth as a legit back-up while Omar Infante sits out with back spasms. He also has been playing a lot of third base in Omaha, so makes you wonder what in store for him as the season continues.
Of note: Today marked the first three run home run of the season….As well as the first Grand Slam!