Kansas City Royals preview: Playoff dreams not unrealistic


Kansas City Royals pitcher James Shields throws a pitch in spring training.
James Shields may be the secret ingredient for the Kansas City Royals’ success. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star)

If you’ve been a Kansas City Royals fan for long, as I have, then you’ve been hearing “they’ll be good in a couple years” for about 10 years, since their last winning season was in 2003. This season, however, could be the year all these people have been talking about. Management went out and acquired veteran starting pitchers to help their inexperienced staff, including the addition of ace pitcher James Shields from Tampa, a move a lot of fans disagreed with. Was it bad to trade top prospect Wil Myers for pitching? Only time will tell, but my gut tells me it was the right call for the Royals to get more W’s this season.

Kansas City Royals position players

Kansas City is loaded with young players with a lot of potential, but their inexperience could be their downfall this season. They have a lot of talent, but don’t have a single position player in their projected line up over the age of 30. This, however, is not necessarily a bad thing. The Royals have a lot of young players, but their short careers have already been quite productive as they, as a team, ranked in the top 10 in batting average in the majors in each of the last two years.

First baseman Eric Hosmer (.262, 14 HR, 60 RBI, .304/.359/.663) and third baseman Mike Moustakas (.242, 20 HR, 73 RBI, .296/.412/.708) both enter their second full seasons with tremendous upside. Both underperformed in 2012 after impressing during their rookie campaigns in 2011. Expect better seasons from both with another year under their belts. Left fielder Alex Gordon, DH Billy Butler and catcher Salvador Perez will complement Hosmer and Moustakas, providing the Royals with an opportunity to enter the postseason conversation for the first time in years.

Kansas City Royals pitching

A huge area the Kansas City Royals improved this offseason is in the starting pitching department. They ranked near the bottom (mid to high 20s out of 30 teams) in ERA, Quality Starts, WHIP and BAA last season, so it was about time they mixed things up by acquiring Shields and Wade Davis from Tampa Bay in the Myers trade, and Ervin Santana from the Los Angeles Angels. Re-signing Jeremy Guthrie, who was productive for the Royals after a disastrous stint with the Colorado Rockies last year, only solidifies a rotation which is much improved. I expect their rotation to be James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin Santana, Wade Davis and Bruce Chen, so that would be four new names to the line up from last season.

While the starting rotation was subpar last year, the bullpen was stellar. After losing closer Joakim Soria last spring to Tommy John surgery and eventually shipping his replacement, Jonathan Broxton, off to the Cincinnati Reds, Greg Holland took over closing duties and converted 16 of 20 save chances, while striking out 91 in 67 innings. Despite the closer carousel in 2012, the Kansas City Royals still posted the sixth-best bullpen ERA (3.17) in the majors. Kelvin HerreraAaron CrowTim Collins and Louis Coleman will bridge the gap between the starters and Holland.

Kansas City Royals projected lineup

  1. Alex Gordon LF
  2. Alcides Escobar SS
  3. Eric Hosmer 1B
  4. Billy Butler DH
  5. Salvador Perez C
  6. Mike Moustakas 3B
  7. Jeff Francoeur RF
  8. Lorenzo Cain CF
  9. Chris Getz 2B

Kansas City Royals prospect watch

The price to improve the pitching staff came at a cost when the Kansas City Royals traded their two top prospects in Myers and right-hander Jake Odorizzi. Most of the prospects over the past few years have made the jump to the bigs, so the young Royals don’t really have any prospects that I would expect to make a big impact on the 2013 season. The one spot that they could make room for a player would be second base, but they do not have any top prospects, especially not MLB ready ones, who are second basemen.

Prediction

The Kansas City Royals should be a very competitive team this season. Now, they may not be able to snag the AL Central title away from the Detroit Tigers, but they may just be able to sneak their way into a wild-card spot. Hopefully, this will be the season they can finally reach the .500 mark for the first time in 10 years. So, Kansas City Royals fans, maybe this is finally the year all of those people have been talking about.

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  1. Well done. The hope exists but reality says they still may be a year away. I don’t think the moving of Wil Myers will be a bad thing. Remember everyone clamoring for them to trade Frenchy last season so Myers would get his shot in the summer? Hindsight is always 20/20 but no way would KC have been able to get an arm like Shields for Myers last year. They played it right and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Royals are better off without Myers. I still think they are a year away though. I am not a full believer in Hosmer and Moustakas just yet. This year will be the watershed season for this franchise though.

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