There's the talent — his fastball reaches the upper 90s. There's the intelligence — he talks about pitching, about what he's trying to do out there, about what hitters are trying to do against him, on a different level than almost anybody else. And there's the backstory of his emotional crisis.
In some ways, he reminds me of Pedro Martinez. In Pedro's heyday, back around the turn of the century, the Boston Red Sox were the best team in baseball — if Pedro was pitching. On the other 80 percent of game days, the Yankees were the best.
The Royals are a weaker team than the late '90s-early '00s Red Sox. Greinke don't make them the best team in baseball on his days. But this is true: If it's Greinke's turn to pitch, Kansas City becomes a difficult team to beat.
Which is why it was impressive Friday to see the Twins dismantle last year's Cy Young winner.
The consensus both both sides seems to be that it was Greinke failing than the Twins succeeding, but the Twins didn't allow him to get them out outside the strike zone, and their patience at the plate helped get him out of the game after five innings.
I said above that Greinke talks about pitching on a different level. Here's an example, lifted from Joe Christensen's gamer in the Star Tribune:
"Every batter you face is 100 percent focused that at-bat and they don't really give any at-bats away. Whenever they get on base or the game gets close, they elevate their game, where a lot of teams, they change their approach. The Twins get even more focused on it."
He said something along the same lines last September too, after a game in which Delmon Young doubled going to the opposite field in an at-bat in which Greinke expected him to try to pull the ball.