In a three game set at Comerica Park, last years AL Central cellar team, the Royals, took it to Tigers pitching. In three games the Royals amassed 45 hits - an average of 15 per game. That's an astounding number when you really think about it. For the series, the Royals hit .357 while drawing an additional 8 walks for an OBP of .396.
No single series, especially early in the season, can be taken too seriously. In many ways, hitters are still finding their timing, and pitchers are still honing their command. But for both clubs, this has to mean something, no matter how minute.
For the Royals, who's poo-poo platter of a lineup includes all of two players to post an OPS over .800 last year, it's a sign that even though they aren't going to hit many home runs, they can put runs on the board when they have everyone contributing. Especially promising has been the early season performance of Jose Guillen, who has been all but invisible the past two seasons. While it's early enough in the season that I need to remind people, "it's very early in the season," he could be for real. I'll elaborate more in a later post.
Overall, there is little hope for the Royals offense. They're running out below average hitters at at least six of the nine positions, and there isn't much immediate help on the way in the minors. If the Royals are going to hit this season, they'll need continued improvement from star first baseman Billy Butler, second baseman Alberto Callaspo, a strong bounce back season from Alex Gordon (if he ever gets healthy), solid production from David DeJesus, and the return of Mike Aviles circa 2008.
Even then, with everyone hitting on all cylinders, that offense isn't particularly good.
With all that being said, there is no way the Tigers are going to succeed this season if they can't get consistently strong starting pitching. In particular, they need their starters to get deeper into games to prevent their bullpen, which isn't particularly deep, from having to throw too many innings. While you can almost certainly count on ace Justin Verlander to get back on track, young guns Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer need to do so as well.
I've spoken about how essential it is that Detroit's starting pitching remain healthy given their lack of depth Well, now I'm compelled to state that it's every bit as essential that their top three starters be very effective. I'm confident that both Scherzer and Porcello, who were amongst the games best first year starters last season, will resume their strong pitching, but it is absolutely essential that they do.