When the Kansas City Royals signed Jason Vargas to a four-year, $32 million contract in the offseason, a lot of people (including myself) were underwhelmed, and thought GM Dayton Moore overpaid for him. The veteran lefty has silenced all doubters with a career year.
On Monday night, he kept it rolling with a beautiful start against the Minnesota Twins. Vargas earned his 10th victory of the season by giving up one run in seven innings of work. This was his encore to a brilliant complete game shutout on 97 pitches against the Oakland Athletics.
The addition of Vargas has been enormous for the Royals. His 3.17 ERA is an entire run below his career mark. Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura have also been pleasant surprises in Kansas City’s impressive starting rotation. With their help, the Royals have now won 21 of their last 26 games, climbing up to a two-game lead over the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.
This is no fluke. Thanks to smart moves like signing Vargas, the Royals are one of the most well-rounded teams in baseball. They’re among the best in the league in speed, defense and pitching. Their lone weakness of power has bounced back nicely, especially with the addition of Josh Willingham.
The top-heavy Tigers have their work cut out for them if they want to repeat as AL Central champions. The Royals have a solid lineup top to bottom, and should be the favorites to take the division this season.