While the chances of the Kansas City Royals winning the AL Central are slim, Royals fans should be pleased by the progress being made by the young ballclub. With perhaps the weakest starting pitching rotation in baseball, it is truly remarkable that the Royals still have a shot at an 80 to 85 win year.
As Kansas City crosses the halfway point in the season, here are my mid-season award winners:
Most Valuable Starting Pitcher - Bruce Chen
Chen easily gets the nod over Hochevar as Chen has the better record (7-7 vs. 5-8), ERA (4.83 vs. 5.23), AVG (.266 vs. .286) and WHIP (1.25 vs. 1.41).
There is no questioning that Chen and Hochevar are the best one-two punch the Royals have pitching currently. Sadly, Chen would be a number 3 or 4 starter on most teams, while Hochevar would struggle to crack the starting rotation for some organizations.
Most Valuable Relief Pitcher - Tim Collins
In my mind, the Royals have the best bullpen in the American League. Pacing the group is Tim Collins, a 22-year-old, 5'7" lefty from Worchester, MA.
Collin's numbers this season have been off the charts good. For the year he has appeared in 35 games (38 2/3 IP) with a .186 AVG, 1.11 WHIP, 53 SO, 17 BB with a 4-2 W/L record.
Also having steller years in the Royals bullpen include Aaron Crow (.234 AVG, 1.23 WHIP), Kelvin Herrera (.236 AVG, 1.09 WHIP), Jose Mijares (.231 AVG, 1.06 WHIP) and closer Jonathan Broxton (.257 AVG, 1.34 WHIP, 20 Saves in 23 Save Opportunities).
Team MVP - Billy Butler
You could easily make cases for why Alcides Escobar, Alex Gordon or Mike Moustakas is the team MVP; but this has been Billy Butler's year. Butler is hitting .287 with .495 SLG (team high), 16 HR (team high), 13 2B, 48 RBI (team high) and 28 BB (team high).
As Butler continues to mature as a hitter; there is no reason why he cannot become a yearly 300 AVG, 25 HR, 100 RBI hitter for the next decade.
Alex Wibholm is an Iowa native and fan of the Kansas City Royals and AL Central Division. Alex attends several KC games every year.