Kansas City Royals: First Half Review

Jul 5, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) runs the bases after hitting a home run on Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Chris Young (32) during the third inning in a game at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 5, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) runs the bases after hitting a home run on Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Chris Young (32) during the third inning in a game at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports /

The All-Star break is officially here. Meaning more than half a season of baseball games have been played. How well has the Kansas City Royals performed thus far this season?

The Kansas City Royals record is 45-43, two games above .500. The Royals are tied for third in the American League Central division with the Chicago White Sox. The Cleveland Indians lead the division by seven games over the Royals heading into the break.

Injuries set the team back this season. Many key players missed time with some kind of injury. The worst injury came in Chicago back on May 22nd.

Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas (Moose) collided while trying to catch a foul pop fly. The guys didn’t hear each other due to the crowd noise. The collision knocked Gordon out for more than a month and sidelined Moose the rest of the year.

Other key players have been injured as well. Salvador Perez (Salvy) collided with Cheslor Cuthbert on a foul ball injuring Salvy for a week. Wade Davis and Lorenzo Cain are currently on the disabled list with injuries of their own.

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Cain is dealing with a strained left hamstring and hopes to be back sometime during the Cleveland series after the break. Davis looks to be back during the first series after the break in Detroit. He’s dealt with right forearm soreness.

Pitchers Mike Minor and Kris Medlen can’t stay healthy enough to be an option as the fifth starter. While Greg Holland and Jason Vargas have not healed from injuries sustained last season.

All the while, the Kansas City Royals continued to play baseball games with various degrees of success. Other guys had to step up just to keep the team above .500.

Minor league players were called up to help fill the void left by injured players. Cheslor Cuthbert replaced Moose as the everyday third baseman. Brett Eibner filled in for Gordon and now fills in for Cain. Whit Merrifield replaced Omar Infante as the teams second baseman. Infante got designated for assignment due to poor play.

All three guys have played well for the big league team. If it were not for these three stepping up, the Kansas City Royals would be fighting for last place with the Minnesota Twins more than likely. Thanks to the rookies, the Royals still have a chance at a playoff push in the second half of the season.

Merrifield slashed a .291/.313/.407 through Saturday for the Royals. He stroked 17 extra base hits out of 55 total hits. He also gave Kansas City more range and arm strength at second base. The 27-year-old rookie isn’t perfect. He struck out 44 times and walked just six.

Cuthbert impressed the Royals front office and the fans with a solid .281/.311/.438 triple slash as of Sunday morning. The youngest rookie (23) can play great defense as well. Here’s a highlight reel of some of his best plays.

Brett Eibner also showed off his skills for the Royals. He slashed .269/.333/.500 in 18 games. The rookie filled in nicely while Gordon and Cain were injured. Only time will tell if he stays on the big league squad when Cain returns. His extra base pop will be missed if he’s sent back to Omaha.

The Kansas City Royals starting rotation gave up plenty of runs in the first half. The Royals are 25th in starting rotation earned run average at 4.99 runs per game. The average is high thanks in large part to Chris Young.

Chris Young couldn’t duplicate what he did last season as a starter. He gave up a team high 26 home runs in 60 innings pitched. His ERA sky rocketed to 6.90 and his home runs per nine stat reached a miserable 3.9. The Royals dug themselves a hole each time Young took the mound. He received one win in 13 starts.

The other starting pitchers have done slightly better. The starting rotation isn’t consistent enough which leads to speculation on why that is.

Ian Kennedy‘s given up 21 home runs through 99 2/3 innings for a surprising ERA of 3.97. He’s struck out 103 batters while walking 33. Not to terrible from the redheaded veteran.

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Edinson Volquez has looked steady at times this season. He’s got a 4.85 ERA with a few solid games under his belt. He’s thrown four shutout games in 19 attempts. He’s been somewhat of a workhorse eating 111 1/3 innings. He’s struck out 85 and walked 41. If Volquez can get the walks down he’ll be everything the Royals need in the second half.

Yordano Ventura struggles with consistency mentally and physically. The 25-year-old put up and ERA of 5.15 in 94 1/3 innings. He also served an eight game suspension for getting into a fight with Manny Machado. He has the talent to be a dominate starting pitcher but hasn’t found “it” yet.

Danny Duffy transitioned from the bullpen and became a consistent starter for the Royals. Through 81 2/3 innings, Duffy’s ERA is 3.09 with a strikeout to walk ratio of 2.17. He’s amassed 94 strikeouts this season. His walks hits divided by innings pitched (WHIP) is a terrific 1.065. Duffy is quickly becoming the ace of the Royals weak rotation.

The Kansas City Royals bullpen is still the best in the major leagues. In fact, the bullpen saved the team so far this season. The bullpen ERA is 2.82. The average might not be as drastic as it was a season ago but still number one. This is with injuries to Holland and now Davis. The depth is in the bullpen for the Royals.

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With the injuries to key players and a weak starting rotation, it’s amazing the Royals are above .500. The team continues to prove the numbers wrong. Thanks to rookies stepping up and the bullpen being dominate, Kansas City has a shot at the playoffs. They might not make it but at least they didn’t quit.