Kansas City has had a great farm system the last few years, and almost everyone expects this team to improve. You could say the Royals have made some minor progress over the last two years, but going from 65 wins in 2009 to 71 wins last year isn’t exactly turning the corner.
Kansas City did manage to get out of the cellar in the American League Central Division last year, but the team has much higher goals this season. Eric Hosmer had an impressive rookie season and he should be a nice player for this team to build around.
The problem for Kansas City over the last couple of years has been their pitching. If this team is going to be competitive, they need to keep the opposition off the scoreboard more. The farm system that has been so highly rated has primarily produced solid hitters, so the need for pitchers remains.
2011 Record: 71-91
2012 Wins ‘Over/Under’: 78.5
Odds to Win 2012 AL Central: +900
Odds to Win 2012 AL Pennant: +3000
Odds to Win 2012 World Series: +8000
Luke Hochevar has been the No. 1 starter in this rotation for the last few years, and that is a major sign of the weakness of this staff. Hochevar was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 MLB Draft.
He did finish the season strong last year, but his career to this point has been disappointing. He has good control of the strike zone, but he doesn’t miss enough bats.
Johnathan Sanchez was the team’s big offseason pickup, and I think he is the guy who has the chance to make a big difference. Sanchez has shown he can be dominant at times, but he has to find a way to throw more strikes and stick around deeper into the game.
The rest of the rotation is expected to be Bruce Chen, Aaron Crow, and Felipe Paulino.
Chen is a journeyman who can look great at times, but he always gets lit up in some outings. Crow has been great in the bullpen, but he has yet to prove that he has the stamina to be a starter.
Paulino is the guy I believe has the most potential.
His pitching splits were impressive last year, and he is still young enough to improve quite a bit. He struck out almost a batter per inning last year, and he does a great job keeping the ball on the ground. Don’t be surprised if Paulino quickly becomes the best starter on this team.
Joakim Soria struggled last year, but I expect a bounce-back season out of him. Jonathan Broxton was picked up over the offseason and the Royals would love to see him regain his old form.
Kansas City needs Tim Collins to find the strike zone more often if he is going to make as many appearances as he did last year.
Eric Hosmer was the big story last year, and he has all the tools to be a star for many years. In fact, I think Hosmer is the type of guy who could be an all-star this year.
Alex Gordon isn’t your typical speedy leadoff hitter, but he hit .305 with a .383 on-base-percentage last year, so he definitely got the job done. Gordon was considered an underachiever until last year, but I think he’ll prove that last year was no fluke.
Billy Butler is about as consistent of a hitter as you will find. Butler is a great guy to put in the middle of the order because he excels at making contact and coming up with clutch hits.
Jeff Francoeur had his best season as a pro last year and the Royals need him to keep hitting.
Mike Moustakas is another youngster this organization has high hopes for in the near future. Moustakas isn’t likely to be a star quite yet, but I do expect him to improve.
Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Salvador Perez, and Johnny Giavotella should round out the lineup for Kansas City.
This is a lineup that is lacking veteran stars, but there are plenty of budding stars in Kansas City. The bottom of the lineup is quite weak, so Kansas City will need some great production out of the first five in the order.
2012 Kansas City Royals Predictions
The huge question mark surrounding this team is once again the starting rotation.
Soria and the bullpen should be better than last year, but the bullpen is liable to be worn out by the end of the year if the Royals starters don’t pitch any better than they did last season.
Kansas City starters finished with just 75 quality starts last season. They may improve a bit this year, but I don’t see this group starring anytime soon.
The offense is likely to get even better as this team’s youngsters mature. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Royals ranking pretty high in the American League’s offensive categories.
Unfortunately for Kansas City, the American League Central is not nearly as wide open as it has been in many of the past few years. Detroit is the clear favorite now that they have made some huge acquisitions over the past year.
2012 Kansas City Royals MLB Season Win Totals Predictions
Take over 78.5 wins.
The oddsmakers probably placed this total slightly lower since Kansas City hasn’t made as much progress as expected the last couple years. Still, a team that has had one of the top five-ranked farm systems over the last five years is bound to improve substantially at some point.
The Tigers are very good, but the rest of the AL Central looks pretty weak.
Look for the Royals to finish close to the .500 mark this season. This is a team that has much more upside than it does downside at this point. I have a slight lean to the over here.
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