I like that we have multiple cases this season of players returning to the place of greatness for themselves and appealing to all their old fans. The most obvious case of this is Albert Pujols coming back to St. Louis, but we also have Stephen Vogt coming back to Oakland, Ian Kennedy's return to Phoenix, and Jesse Chavez returning to Atlanta after like 3 months away.
But I honestly think Zack Greinke suiting up for the Royals again might be the most sentimental.
Keep in mind, back in 2006 or 2007, Zack Greinke's career could have been dead in the water. After coming up as a crafty starter with high velocity, the anxiety of the big leagues and the lack of proper run support in Kansas City made for a very difficult time for him, and heading into the 2007 season, no one was quite sure what exactly would become of Greinke. That was 15 years ago. Essentially every year since has been nothing short of incredible. Greinke becomes a starting fixture in KC from 2007 til 2010, wins a Cy Young award and an ERA title, finds fame and fortune in Milwaukee, LA, Phoenix and Houston, gets another ERA title, his 200th win and enough strikeouts to make 3000 a possibility, and cements his status as a cerebral pitcher that probably will wind up in the Hall of Fame.
Part of me honestly thinks he'll go there as a Royal, too. The heights may have been in LA, but like with most non-KC places, it took a little while for Greinke to get going and find his rhythm. He's had the most tenure, and made the most difference, while playing for the Royals. And I think they'll take that into consideration. You can tell by this season that Greinke feels especially at home in Kansas City.
Even more evidence for that- through 2 and a half weeks of play, Zack Greinke is the Royals' top WAR earner, and has a 2.25 ERA through 3 starts, despite only throwing 2 strikeouts. This is an older, craftier Greinke with less velocity, and he's relying more on craftsmanship, as well as a strong core defense. Granted, the run support isn't always there, as evidenced by his lack of a win so far, but he's still pitching as low-key and as strongly as he wants to. I think it's the lack of pressure, too. He's out of the spotlight, out of the playoff race. Some people, like Verlander and Wainwright and such, can eat that sort of thing up, and Greinke isn't one of those people. I respect that.
The Royals might not amount to a whole lot this season, but I think that if they get a great season out of Zack Greinke, especially if he bows out afterwards, it'll be a sure highlight.
Coming Tomorrow- 14 years later, the Chicago Cubs have another Japanese rookie ready to rock your socks off.