They were all disregarded in the preseason predictions, with nobody giving them a chance to win a division championship, let alone a World Series championship.
However, certain things that had to happen, did happen. In return, they were able to maximize on their potential, and in the process, proved all doubters wrong.
The Royals can do the same. I believe this year, they have the necessary ingredients—that when placed mixed together—to win the AL Central (especially since the talent in the AL Central seems to be down this year).
So I went ahead and cooked up a recipe for a Kansas City Royals' '09 AL Central title.
A pinch of Alex Gordon living up to his potential
When Gordon first debuted for the Royals, scouts predicted he had .300/35/140 potential. If he manages to come anywhere near that, then that gives the Royals something truly special to build around.
Anything really to give Kansas City fans something to cheer about.
A cup of consistent starting pitching.
When I look at the Royals' pitching, nothing really stands out.
I see a possibility for decency, but nothing awe-inspiring. However, if they can manage to be solidly consistent, this could be a mediocre rotation.
Gil Meche has potential to be a 15 game winner. I would settle for anything 12 and higher.
However, that has to be mixed with a breakout season from Zach Greinke. Speaking of potential, this guy's got some. If he could manage to break the 13 or 14 game win mark, then he'll be a great compliment to Meche.
The rest, which consists of Kyle Davies, Horacio Ramirez, and whoever gets put in the five spot, must provide some good performances—some just to halt the four and five game losing skids, and come up in big games.
Half a pint of newcomers making an impact
Mike Jacobs and Coco Crisp could be good compliments to the bat of Alex Gordon. They could create more RBI and runs scored for Gordon if they just play up to their potential (although I'm starting to wonder just how much potential there is left in Coco Crisp).
I add "heaping" into the phrase because there's going to have to be a bunch of it.
Chicago's pitching staff is going to have to become too inconsistent (like it usually does), and their new young hitters will have to show that they're not ready to play for real yet in the big leagues.
Minnesota's back end of the rotation with Perkins and Blackburn have to prove to be worthless. Scott Baker must have an injury-plagued year. Also, Denard Span must prove to be a fluke.
Cleveland's bats can't get going besides Grady Sizemore. Cliff Lee isn't as dominant as he was last year, and Kerry Wood returns to being...well, Kerry Wood.
Stir and bake consistently for 162 games.
The Royals can't slack off and think they're out of it come mid-June and July. They must continue to play hard and make the most of what they have.
Again, even if they do this, they can't win this division alone. They will need help from the other central teams, and the Royals can then take advantage of that by maximizing on their own potential.
I just hope that by the time the All-Star break comes around, I'm not watching meaningless Royals' baseball games.