2014 MLB Preview: Kansas City Royals
Kansas City Royals
86-76 (2013, 2nd in AL Central)
Offense- Runs(18th) Batting Average (9th) On-Base%(16th) Slugging%(24th)
Pitching- ERA(6th) Quality Starts(3rd) WHIP(10th) Batting Average Against(14th)
Notable Additions: Jason Vargas, Norichika Aoki, Omar Infante, Ramon Hernandez
They will win if: They can avoid a second half slide; If the offense finds more power; If the bullpen repeats last year's success; If Hosmer and Moustakas can rebound from off years; If Aoki can be a table-setter; If Vargas can pitch like a #2 starter; If Cain, Escobar and Perez can prove they are Capable of being starters; If Ned Yost can get this team to believe in themselves.
More Likely Result: This Royals team is extremely talented. But for whatever reason they seem to always fade down the stretch and miss out on the playoffs. Could this year be different? We will have to see but based on the last few years it seems like this team will be in the passenger's seat to the Tigers and will probably miss out on a Wild Card spot.
Projected Opening Day Lineup:
Norichika Aoki, RF
Alex Gordon, LF
Eric Hosmer, 1B
Billy Butler, DH
Mike Moustakas, 3B
Salvador Perez, C
Omar Infante, 2B
Lorenzo Cain, CF
Alciedes Escobar, SS
Manager: Ned Yost (11th season, 5th with Kansas City)
Player to Watch:
After all of the trouble the Royals have had finding the heir to George Brett at third base, Mike Moustakas looks like he might finally be able to fill that void. Moustakas has tremendous power and has a great glove. If he can continue to develop he should be able to become a middle of the order bat for the Royals for the foreseeable future. Expect Moustakas to have a great season for the Royals.
After an incredibly down year last year, Eric Hosmer is primed for a bounce back season. The Royals as a team had a hard time hitting home runs, and Hosmer especially seemed to struggle with his power. But Hosmer has a great swing, and should have no trouble hitting the ball with authority this year. He will pair with Mike Moustakas and Billy Butler to give the Royals a formidable middle of the order.
Cy Young Candidate:
James Shields is still far and away the most talented pitcher in the Royals rotation. He will continue to be the Royals ace until Danny Duffy and others start to take strides in their development. Shields has shown the ability to pitch deep into games and should benefit from a resurgent Royals offense. Expect another big campaign from "Big Game" James.
Bold Prediction: Salvador Perez will finish the year as one of the top 5 catchers in the American League after putting together a monster season and helping the Royals to step further in the right direction towards leapfrogging the Tigers for the AL Central championship.
Playoff Odds: With Detroit firmly in front of them, the Royals are better served to be fighting for a Wild Card spot. That won't be easy though; considering at least 2 teams from the AL East and probably 2 from the West will be fighting for those spots as well. I do give the Royals a shot to make the playoffs if they can live up to their potential, but teams like the Rays, Red Sox, Athletics, Rangers and Yankees are going to have something to say about that potential. I will stick with the Royals missing out on the playoffs yet again.
Manager Status: You can make the argument that this team should make the playoffs based on their talent alone. But for whatever reason they haven't been able to translate their talent on-field to the diamond. You can make a case for firing Yost especially if this team stumbles out of the gate and especially with increased pressure from fans for this team to win. If they are unable to do that this year my guess is they will go in a different direction at manager.
Expected Finish: 2nd Place