Before the season started, the Kansas City Royals were a popular pick to be this season's Tampa Bay Rays. With just over a month of the season completed, KC is looking like they could be just that.
The Royals have been at or near the top of the AL Central since opening day, thanks to Zack Greinke, Gil Meche and the rest of the starting rotation. One drastic difference between this team and last year's Rays is the offensive struggles the Royals are having.
This edition of the Royals Report will take a look at those hitters who are contributing at, above, or well below expectations.
Crisp was brought into Kansas City to serve the role of the consummate lead off man. The career .280 hitter is batting just .241 so far this year which would constitute a career low should the season end today.
Crisp is also the lone base stealing threat on the team, yet finished April with just two steals in four attempts.
So why is he getting a passing grade? Because despite his struggles at the plate, Crisp has already hit four triples (his career high in a season is seven), and leads the team in runs scored.
Since the month of May has begun, Crisp has also showed more of a propensity to steal a base. Coco has stolen six bases over the last five games, without getting caught once.
He's also managed to get on base at a .369 clip despite seeing his average dip
Crisp will need to improve his hitting as the season goes along, but there are signs he could still be the annoyance to opposing pitchers the Royals front office thought he could be.
Coming off the heels of his best all around season as a Royal, most expected Dejesus to continue to improve and mature, and some thought he might put together a team MVP type season.
Instead, David is having a truly miserable start to the year.
Dejesus ended the first month of the season hitting .216, with just two home runs, and nine RBI. While he's never been a speed burner, Dejesus has stolen at leas 10 bases in each of the last two years, but has attempted (unsuccessfully) just one stolen base this season.
Dejesus has batted in the second spot in the lineup almost exclusively this season, but unless he picks it up, he could be moved down sooner rather than later.
Call Mark Teahen, Mr. Versatility. Since coming to the majors, Teahen has seen time at every position on the diamond except for short stop, pitcher, and catcher.
This season, Teahen was slated as the Royals' starting second baseman, but when Alex Gordon went down, Teahen went back to the hot corner.
Teahen has filled a hole in the lineup that could have been disastrous admirably, hitting .300 at the end of April with three home runs. Most impressive has been Teahen's defense.
Mark has yet to commit an error this season in 69 chances.
I could just as easily given Guillen an incomplete grade for the first part of the season. Guillen started the season off extremely slowly, finishing April hitting just .212 with two home runs (both in the same game) and five runs batted in.
Guillen missing , Guillen missed two weeks of April thanks to an injury however, and he's raised his average to a respectable .276 on the year.
Guillen has been extremely streaky, as seven of his 11 RBI have come in two games, and while at one point he had gotten his average up to .308, he's gone two for his last 14 to fall back to earth.
Billy Butler has long been thought of as a can't miss hitter who could stand to improve greatly on defense. He appears to be growing in both areas
Butler began the season 0 for his first 11 at-bats but has steadily grown his batting average since then. He finished the month of April hitting .262, and has gotten it up over .280 since May has started.
One area Butler still needs to improve in is his power stroke. Butler has two home runs this year, and they both came in the same game.
He's slated as the No. 5 hitter on this team for years to come, and in order to be effective in that role, he's going to need to start hitting a plethora of roundtrippers
Jacobs was brought in over the winter as the big power bat they've been missing for several seasons.
While he leads the team in home runs with five, and RBI with 19, he's gone long periods of time without a big fly, and finished the month of April with just a .237 average.
He'll need to increase his home run pace in order to get close to the 33 home runs he hit a year ago
Callaspo has been a god send for the Royals offense this season. His .379 average at the end of April was a surprise. Add to that Callaspo has hit his first two major league home runs this season, and his season is truly a shocker.
With Teahen's move to third thanks to Alex Gordon's injury, there were some extremely worried about the hole in the lineup that might be created, but Callaspo has played so well, Teahen getting the starting second base job back seems in doubt.
Olivo is coming off a pretty productive season a year ago, and thanks to John Buck continuing to under achieve, the starting catcher's job has been Olivo's to grab.
Olivo has done everything in his power to give it back this season, finishing April hitting just .178 with two homers, and four runs batted in.'
There really is very little positive to say about Olivo's offense, though since May has begun he's gotten his average up to .229, so there is hope that he can salvage his season.
Aviles came out of no where last season to hit .325 with 10 home runs, 51 runs batted in, and eight steals.
So is his .202 average the real Mike Aviles? It's too early to tell, but it's obviously a disappointment, especially with so many of his teammates struggling to hit for much average.
Bloomquist has been the first man off the bench this season, and has delighted his new team with a .368 average that included a home run, and two triples.
Even more impressive is that Bloomquist is getting hotter. Willie finished April with a .333 average, and is 10 for 24 (.417) this month so far.
With Bloomquist hitting at a torrid pace, and Aviles slumping badly, it isn't a reach to think he'll be the everyday shortstop in the very near future.
After looking over the major contributors on offense, it's easily apparent that the key to the Royals success has been the starting rotation.
If the Royals wish to compete come October the bats are going to have to pick it up. At 18-14, the Royals are tied for first in the Central, but shouldn't count on four games over .500 winning the division at the end of the season.