The current run the Kansas City Royals are making to close out the 2012 season might feel like déjà vu.
We all remember how the Royals finished the 2008 season, going 18-8 in September to “charge” into fourth place in the AL Central.
Heading into the 2009 season, optimism for this team was at an all-time high with an 18-11 record out of the gate, only to crash back down to earth finishing with a 65-97 record on the year.
This time has to be different right?
Unlike 2008, the 2012 edition seems set for the upcoming season—except for the possible addition of a few starting pitchers, widely regarded around baseball as the missing pieces for this team to compete.
The 2008 squad featured Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, David DeJesus, Zack Greinke, Joakim Soria and Luke Hochevar, who were supposed to have played a major part in the future of the organization.
But only a handful of players that took the field that season are still with the club, including Gordon, Butler, Soria (recovering from Tommy John Surgery) and Hochevar. Kansas City’s version of Jeter, Posada, Rivera and Pettitte? Probably a stretch, but the premise of the comparison is spot on.
Kansas City has undergone unprecedented turnover the past few seasons, especially for a small market team, which in theory should be comprised mainly of young up-and-comers that have climbed their way through the system together.
If this theory is correct, the Royals may have arrived.
The Royals’ minor league system has been ranked at or near the top of MLB for some time now. That talent is now finally making its way to Kansas City.
Holdovers Gordon and Butler, along with Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, Sal Perez and Lorenzo Cain, have given the Royals a very viable offense to compete in the AL Central. The only move left to be made is for top prospect Wil Myers to be called up.
This is why it feels different than it did in 2008. The only remotely parallel sentiment is that the Royals have the same issue that seems to plague them every year. The lack of starting pitching has haunted this team since the mid 90s.
Sure there have been years that a player or two has seen great success—no one will ever forget Greinke’s 2009 season—but overall, it has been atrocious.
Pundits in and around the game believe that it is absolutely paramount that the Royals invest money this offseason in improving their rotation.
With the recent bad luck Kansas City has had with injuries to their better arms, and potential can’t-miss prospects not panning out, starting pitching is the missing link needed to return this franchise back to a winning culture.
If the Royals can make the right moves this offseason to finally solidify the rotation, they could enjoy success reminiscent of the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays and make this a September to remember.
Better yet, a September to forget, putting the recent dark years behind them for good.