The Kansas City Royals had one of the worst starts to the 2017 Major League Baseball season. However, over the last month they have slowly climbed up close to .500. They entered Thursday with a 35-36 record overall, with serious hopes of getting back to .500 or better soon.

KC have done well of late

The Royals have won eight of their last ten games, thirteen of their last twenty, and eighteen of their last thirty. Playing in the AL Central division, they are very much in the thick of things. After all, the division has not yet seen a dominant team emerge.

The Minnesota Twins enjoyed the best start, but they have since fallen and are currently just 36-33. Furthermore, the Cleveland Indians -- the defending American League champions -- enter Thursday just 38-32. Kansas City has outplayed the Indians over the last month so perhaps a pennant race might develop between the Royals and the Indians.

Moustakas, Cain both effective at the plate

Mike Moustakas has been one of the best hitters for KC over the last 30 days. The 28-year-old has an OPS of .863 on the season, but over the last 30 days his OPS is 1.008.

He has nine homeruns and 24 RBIs over the same time frame. Lorenzo Cain has also been very productive recently, as he has nine homeruns and 18 RBIs in his last 104 at bats.

On the mound, 34-year-old Jason Vargas is having a surprising season. He is 10-3 on the year and that projects to what could be a 20-win season or better. So far in his career he has never had more than 14 wins and he certainly appears poised to break that mark this season. Recently, he has been very difficult to score on. In his last five starts, he has gone 5-0 and has only given up a combined eight earned runs.

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He leads the American League in wins and only Clayton Kershaw has as many in the National League. Vargas may enter the Cy Young debate soon, given his low ERA of 2.27 and his impressive record.

Not much was expected of the Royals heading into the season. However, the way that they have been going lately, they may yet challenge Cleveland and/or overtake Minnesota in the standings. It may be a little too early to designate a team as in the Wild Card picture or divisional picture, but certainly the Wild Card race could be viewed as a back-up plan for KC.

The World Series champions from two years ago definitely appear to be rolling. They do have a lot of players from the winning team two seasons ago, so they will not be short on experience should they get into some pressure situations down the road.

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