Kansas City left the Motor City with a series split and one in a row after a resilient one-run victory over Detroit on Wednesday, but the Royals still haven't recorded a home win in 10 tries to start the season, and their next opponent at Kauffman Stadium is the New York Yankees. You can do the math.
The Royals' implausible ten consecutive losses at home to start off the season is the second worst in major-league history. Sadly, Kansas City is just two games shy of the all-time mark. The 1994 Chicago Cubs lost the first 12 games they played at the friendly confines of Wrigley Field that season.
As of Wednesday's games, the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, the team that will follow the Bronx Bombers into Kauffman Stadium, are the two worst teams in the NL East. As silly as that sounds, given the recent history of these two American League powerhouses, it's not surprising for one or either to start off the season slowly before catching fire at some point and putting the rest of the league to shame.
The Royals will be hoping they aren't the team to wake up these two sleeping giants to their full potential. Although the Red Sox aren't as strong throughout the lineup as they have been, they are still a very good team, and there is no way the Yankees are going to stay in fourth place in the AL East for very much longer.
The Royals 6-16 start in April is certainly a surprise, given all of the optimism and excitement surrounding the team and its promising young talent heading into the 2012 season. No one, however, would have predicted that the Boys in Blue would fail to win even one game in the season-opening home stand.
As much a shock - or perhaps disappointment is a more apt description - as the Royals were in April, the bigger surprise, in my opinion, was the 8-15 start by the Los Angeles Angels. This is the same team that has a $154 million payroll this season and spent $331 million in the offseason to acquire Albert Pujols, arguably the best player in baseball, and starting pitcher C.J. Wilson in free agency. Pujols, the two-time National League home-run champion (2009 and 2010) and two time runner-up, hasn't found American League pitching to his liking yet, failing to hit one out of the park during the month of April.
Two surprises at the other end of the scale after the first month of the 2012 season are the New York Mets and the Baltimore Orioles. The Mets were ranked 27th in my preseason power rankings and jumped all the way to eighth, with a 13-10 record to begin May. Baltimore won six of its final eight games to close out April and found itself at the top of the standings in the always-tough AL East.
It is still very early in the season, but it's always fun to assess and rank the teams at this stage because the positioning is full of early surprises, both on the upside and downside, and is always very different than when things settle out throughout the long season.
Here's the way things look some 25 games into the 2012 season:
MLB 2012 Power Rankings Through April
(Preseason ranking in parentheses)
1. (4) Texas Rangers - Great pitching. Great hitting. Maybe strongest Rangers team in franchise history.
4. (1) New York Yankees - Only poor Yankee pitching will hold back best starting lineup in baseball.
5. (12) Atlanta Braves - Hard to imagine that the 14-9 Braves started out 0-3.
6. (8) Tampa Bay Rays - The Rays have been as good at home as the KC Royals have been bad. In April, Tampa Bay was 10-1 when playing at Tropicana Field.
7. (17) Washington Nationals - Like Sports Illustrated wrote: "First in war. First in peace. First in the NL East."
8. (27) New York Mets - Biggest upside surprise of all 30 MLB teams in opening month.
9. (29) Baltimore Orioles - Just like the Mets, O's are playing way above their heads in the early going.
11. (15) Toronto Blue Jays - Same old Jays, hovering at .500 mark. Doesn't seem to matter what month it is.
12. (2) Detroit Tigers - Too good to be down this far for too long.
14. (11) Cincinnati Reds - Red were 4-4 in one-run games in April, consistent with their .500 record for the month.
17. (9) Boston Red Sox - David Ortiz had a career-high 32 hits in April and was tied for second in the AL in hitting with a .395 average. Ortiz can't care this team, though.
18. (13) Milwaukee Brewers - Brewers won only once (in their 10 April wins) when they did not hit a home run.
21. (25) Seattle Mariners - Rough patch next week with six games against Tigers and Yankees.
22. (3) Los Angeles Angels - Albert Pujols went homerless in month of April. Halos are biggest surprise in baseball thus far.
23. (26) Pittsburgh Pirates - Has won only one out of every three on the road this season, but the Bucs have a nine-game home stand coming up.
24. (28) Oakland Athletics - Lowest run production in the AL through first month of season. Pretty much where everyone thought they'd be.
25. (14) Miami Marlins - Worst on-base percentage in NL (.291) and the Fish have grounded into a league-worst 27 double plays.
26. (24) Chicago Cubs - The Cubs have a better record this season against the Cardinals and the Phillies than they do against Miami.
27. (30) Houston Astros - The Astros won just one of seven series in April. They're 4-1, however, in games decided by five or more runs.
28. (20) Kansas City Royals - Until starting pitching improves, Royals will continue to struggle. At current rate, Royals will be lucky to get to 65 wins.
29. (23) San Diego Padres - Second-worst hitting team in baseball through the opening month, and their 7-17 record reflects that.
30. (22) Minnesota Twins - Next to the Royals, the Twins have the worst home record in baseball. And their road record is even worse: 3 road wins and 3 home wins in first month.
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