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Kansas City Royals, 1st Place, Same Sentence II

Back on June 18th, the original Kansas City Royals 1st Place, Same Sentence post was created.  At that time the Royals have just won their 9th straight game and 12 of 15 in June.  Last night, they were at it again, beating the Oakland Athletics and going up .5 game on the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central.  This on the same day they acquired Josh Willingham from the Minnesota Twins via trade!

At the MLB All-Star Break on July 15h, the Royals sat 6.5 games behind the Tigers.  After returning to a quick 4 game losing streak, losing 7 of their last 8, they are 16-3 and have rattled off 9 wins in 10 games this August.  They have allowed just 25 runs, 3rd in the MLB behind the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres, while scoring 49 runs, 5th in MLB.  Their +24 run differential in August is 3rd in baseball behind the Mariners (31) and the Baltimore Orioles (26).

The resurgence of Billy Butler has led this team offensively.  Butler leads the team with 7 doubles, 4 home runs, tied with Mike Moustakas, and is tied with Salvador Perez for the team lead in RBI with 12, since the break.  Alex Gordon's 27 hits (.325 BA) leads the team.

Nori Aoki hit just .260 in the 1st half of the season, .292 since the All-Star Game and has been a spark plug at the top of the Royals lineup.  He has swiped 6 bases already, compared to 7 over the entire 1st half!

Ironically enough, this coincides with a potential Justin Verlander Injury, again

James Shields has been brilliant since the break, and in 5 starts has allowed just 9 ER, lowering his season ERA to just 3.25.  He got roughed up by the Boston Red Sox in his 1st start after the All-Star Game, (4 R 3 ER 5.2 IP), but since has allowed just 4 ER over 30 IP, aka  1.20 ERA!  The Royals are just 3-2 in his 5 starts and he has just a 2-1 record.  He pitched a complete game, 4 hit, shutout against the San Francisco Giants in his last start, punching out 5.

Danny Duffy has been just as good as Shields, making 5 starts (Royals are 4-1, he owns a 2-1 record), allowing just 7 ER over 31 IP, good for a 2.03 ERA.  However, Duffy followed up Shields CGSO allowing 4 ER to the Giants in his last start.  Somehow, Duffy is just 7-10 on the year with a 2.57 ERA and 1.09 WHIP!

Yordano Ventura has also made 5 starts for the Royals in the 2nd half, and while he too has a 2-1 record, his ERA sits at 4.25 across 29.2 IP thanks to 6 runs in just 4.1 IP against the Red Sox.  His last 4 starts have seen him pitch to a 2.87 ERA over 25.1 innings.

Jeremy Guthrie has won 3 of his 4 starts.  He allowed 8 runs over his first 11.2 innings, but since has pitched 15 innings of 10 hit ball, allowing just 2 ER and striking out 10, including a CG in his last start against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Aaron Crow had one bad outing in a 10-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians, but Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera and Jason Frasor have pitched 28.2 innings of shutout baseball, striking out 35 batters.

Greg Holland has converted 10 of the 11 save opportunities, including 9 in a row.  Only Steve Cishek of the Miami Marlins has converted 10 saves since the All-Star game.  He has allowed 13 base runners in 12 innings pitched but his 16 Ks have limited the damage.

I will ask this question again, as I did back in May:

Are the Royals a legit threat in the American League?

There is a great discussion going on over on Reddit about the Royals with over 300 comments!