After another promising September to another seemingly hollow 2011 season, the Kansas City Royals head into 2012 looking to build on the meticulous injection of youth that was the primary story all of last year.
As other teams made splashes in free agency and on the trade market, the Royals made a couple of systematic moves to preserve the long-term plan that Dayton Moore put into place when hired back in 2006 as general manager.
From the outside looking in, it seems as though the Royals are content with a very deliberate progression toward success, although I am sure that the common theme inside the camp is that they are right on schedule.
The natural development of their key players should generate a trajectory toward .500 baseball. But if a few things break their way, they could enjoy a season much better than the expected bump that the prognosticators are calling for.
Here are the three most essential keys to a successful 2012: