Kansas City Royals Last Year: 75-87 4th in AL Central This Year: 5th in AL Central
It seems that it is always said coming into the season that Kansas City is dangerous and could surprise people. Then they always end up in last place and well below .500. The only time they finish out of the cellar is when other teams completely fall apart not because of an increased success of the Royals. Last year was the first time since 2003 that they did not finish last. This team has the tools to turn it around and finally be dangerous but I would never bet on the Royals doing so.
Opening Day Lineup w/Projections CF Coco Crisp .281 7 HR 43 RBI 22 SB SS Mike Aviles .305 11 HR 54 RBI LF David DeJesus .291 9 HR 69 RBI RF Jose Guillen .273 21 HR 96 RBI 1B Mike Jacobs .257 27 HR 89 RBI DH Billy Butler .283 18 HR 77 RBI 3B Alex Gordon .267 21 HR 73 RBI C Miguel Olivo .245 14 HR 53 RBI 2B Alberto Callaspo .287 0 HR 32 RBI
Rotation RHP Gil Meche 14-12 4.04 ERA 163 K RHP Zack Greinke 12-12 3.77 ERA 185 K RHP Brian Bannister 7-11 4.78 ERA 119 K RHP Luke Hochevar 6-12 4.98 ERA 103 K LHP Horacio Ramirez 5-9 5.12 ERA 87 K
CP RHP Joakim Soria 1.69 ERA 38 SV 71 K
Best Case Scenario: Butler and Gordon finally reach potential and hit near 30 home runs each. Hochevar becomes a solid starter and makes good on his #1 overall pick. This team gets solid play out of journeymen Crisp, Guillen and Farnsworth. The team falls just short of .500 and finishes in 4th place.
Worst Case Scenario: Starting pitching struggles all year and can't get to Soria. Butler and Gordon officially become busts and Zach Greinke regresses. No one on this team hits over .300 or hits more than 20 home runs. This team struggles to win 70 games and is in its rightful place in the bottom of the AL Central.
Player Most Important to Success: Alex Gordon. When he came into the league in 2007 he was the #2 prospect behind Dice-K. He was supposed to be better than Ryan Braun and Evan Longoria. In two years Braun has hit .301 with 71 home runs and Gordon has hit .253 with 31 home runs. Watching him play for two years he seems to have all the tools to be a great hitter but he hasn't done it yet. He is only 25 so he has time to figure it out but it is running out. If he can find his .300-30-100 potential he can be the force in the middle of the lineup that the Royals haven't had in decades. If he continues to struggle the Royals will likewise continue to disappoint.
Outlook: The most interesting thing is that while the Royals are trying to rebuild with youth and within they still always make a curious free agent pickup each year. First it was paying 55 million to Gil Meche, then it was signing Jose Guillen, this year they outdid themselves signing Coco Crisp, Mike Jacobs, Kyle Farnsworth. These players do nothing to help the future and in the case of Mike Jacobs it is taking away at-bats from prospect Kila Ka'aihue who hit 37 home runs in AA and AAA last year. If they ever get there top prospects to meet potential they can compete in the AL Central, but the track record is not there. They have a good farm system but they don't have a good major system and that keeps them in the cellar.