I don't know if anyone's noticed, but something pretty extraordinary is happening on the other side of the state. Zack Greinke, the Royals' young phenom right-hander, may have become the best pitcher in baseball while no one was looking.
So far this year, Greinke's record stands at 6-1, with an ERA of 0.51 in 53 innings. Let that sink in for a second. The man actually lost a
game with an ERA of half a run. He's striking out ten hitters per nine
innings, and has yet to allow a single home run all year. Those are the
sorts of numbers you expect to see on a baseball card from the mid-60s,
2002 Zack Greinke Rookie Card by Bowman
Of course, I'm sure that a lot of you recall when Greinke actually left the Royals in 2006
due to what was termed at the time "personal issues." Greinke missed
almost the entire '06 season before righting the ship and returning to
We now know that the kid was fighting depression and anxiety
disorders, which I'm sure were only exacerbated by the misery of
playing baseball in a situation as hopeless as the one that Kansas City
found themselves in just a couple years ago.
But now, the Royals are a legitimate team again, for the first time since, well, right around when George Brett
hung up his spikes. They've got one of the most dangerous rotations in
baseball, led by the aforementioned KC Colossus, an outstanding closer
in Joaquin Soria,
and an offense with some very promising young pieces. They lead the AL
Central at the moment, and I have to say, that's a pretty bad division
overall (and by pretty bad I mean awful), and I think Kansas City just
may be the class of it.
As for Greinke, can he maintain this pace for long? Frankly, probably not. Don't get me wrong; he is certainly one of the best pitchers in baseball, and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future. But at some point, some of those fly ball outs are going to start leaving the park, and his numbers will start to look more like those of an ace major league pitcher, and less like one of pitching lines you could put up on Baseball Simulator 1.000.
Alex Eisenberg of Baseball Intellect recently did a remarkable, detailed analysis of Greinke's delivery, and likes what he sees. Check it out, and leave Alex a nice note while you're over there, as he does fantastic work all year 'round.
Still, if nothing else, it's great to see a guy with so much talent, who seemed so lost just a couple of years ago, get himself pointed in the right direction. Now, if only we could figure out some way to get him over to the east side of the state on a more or less permanent basis...