Zack Greinke

Josh Hamilton isn't the only awesome story in baseball right now.

A few years ago, Greinke was a high first round draft pick of the Royals, and he quickly turned himself into a can't-miss prospect thanks to a spectacular 2003 as a teenager. At one point PECOTA rather famously determined that he had a 0% chance of collapse. Greinke made the Majors at the age of 20 and, over 24 starts, posted a sub-4 ERA. He was well on his way to having a magnificent career.

Then he went crazy.* His velocity disappeared, his performance slipped, and in 2006 he took a few months away from baseball entirely for personal reasons before returning for a rehab assignment in AA. When he struggled out of the gate with the Royals in 2007, it was feared that he'd never come close to achieving the extraordinary potential with which he'd been blessed.

(*-more of an "I sign my name in my diary as Mittens the cat" benign kind of crazy than the more terrifying "God shall bestow upon all of humanity the third revelation If I shoot up a school bus" kind of crazy.)

A shift to the bullpen, however, worked wonders. Suddenly Greinke was working in the mid- to high-90s, using his velocity and impressive command to strike out a batter an inning. Rewarded with another trial in the rotation, Greinke got seven starts to close out the year and put up a 1.85 ERA with a K/BB over three. After enduring one of the more unusual and heartbreaking sagas in baseball history, Greinke looked to be getting his career back on track.

Greinke made his 2008 debut today against the Detroit Tigers, who boast arguably the most potent offense in the league (albeit one that today was without Curtis Granderson and Miguel Cabrera). He allowed one run in seven innings, touching 97 with his fastball and averaging 93. In 2005 - the year of his breakdown - he averaged just under 90. To go along with his hard fastball, he also features a sharp slider and a deceptive change of pace. He's got a full repertoire, and right now probably stands as the best arm on the staff.

It seems to me that, against all odds, Zack Greinke has found his way back. And the entire baseball community is better off for it.