The Kansas City Royals recently kicked off their '12 regular season last Friday, and have managed to put together a record of 2-2 heading into Wednesday's action.
With many around the league expecting this team to be much better this year, there is new found hope that the boys in blue could contend for a division title this season.
However, in order for that to happen, KC will have to play well in the first three-plus months of the campaign.
Here are three keys to a successful first half of 2012 for the Royals.
It's becoming more and more clear every day that Royals first basemen Eric Hosmer is the star of this team.
The former first-round pick finished third last year in the AL Rookie of the Year voting after hitting .293 and slamming 19 homers in his first season in the big leagues.
He's already hit two homers and driven in five runs in his first four contests for KC this season.
With his unlimited potential on both offense and defense, Kansas City needs him to have a huge first half this year if this team wants to be in a good spot when the All-Star break rolls around.
Limit the growing pains
I realize that this is something that will be hard to restrain, considering how many young players the Royals currently have on their roster.
However, they will have to find a way to limit some of the growing pains of their talented youth if they want to be successful in the first half of this season.
They cannot afford repeat performances of what they received last year from then-rookies Johnny Giavotella and Danny Duffy.
The Yost factor
Like every MLB manager, the Royals' Ned Yost has always wanted to win a World Series title.
However, something has always prevented him from reaching that goal.
One of the biggest things that has hurt Yost in the past has been his frequent tinkering of lineups and pitching staffs.
He knows that this will need to change for his club to reach their maximum potential this year and beyond.
Yost's influence on this team and ability to push the right buttons with this roster each game could transform this team from a pretender to a contender in the next few months.
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