The season is young, and in case you haven't noticed, the Kansas City Royals are in first place in the AL Central. The very fact that the Royals are leading the division after a week of play is reason itself to sound the alarms about the unpredictability and inconclusiveness of small sample sizes.
Nevertheless, there's one reason to believe that the Royals might produce more than expected this season -- the team is running like there's no tomorrow.
For many of the team's players, there is no tomorrow. It isn't a Nostradamus-type prophesy on their part, but rather the fortunate or unfortunate -- depending on how you look at it -- result of having baseball's best farm system and a limited number of jobs. And so, with job security that's about as tenuous as a governmental worker these days, the team has transformed themselves into a bunch of base bandits.
Here's a look at team totals for steals and attempted steals in the first week:
Royals manager Ned Yost, who has been on the job for less than a year, has made it a pointed priority to run more this season, telling the Kansas City Star, "It’s a philosophy I’ve always had...I like to play the game aggressively and I like to play the game to win.”
For the record, Yost stole only five bases in his six-year career. So maybe not a life-long philosophy.
But then again, Jeff Francoeur -- Jeff Francoeur! -- has a couple of steals. Jarrod Dyson has three times as many steals as plate appearances (1). And Alcides Escobar looks to be a reasonable bet to fulfill that stolen base potential he once flashed in the minors.
The manager pushing. The youth are on their way. And so, the Royals are running. Maybe not running away with the division -- not unless Alex Gordon hits 60 HRs this year -- but nevertheless they're stealing something.