With the Kansas City Royals 2011 season about to wrap up, it's time to look forward to the upcoming '12 campaign.
Next year's starting lineup for the Royals should likely consist of many of the same players who will finish with the team this season.
The key to success in 2012 and beyond for the KC offense will be the play of their younger hitters, such as Hosmer, Moustakas, Giavotella and Perez.
Here is my predicted 2012 Opening Day lineup for the Royals.
2011 Lineup Spot: Lead-off Hitter
Gordon has had a breakout year at the top of the Royals' batting order in 2011.
He has hit 22 homers and knocked in 86 runs while swiping 17 bases as well.
At just 27 years old, there is little doubt that he is the lead-off hitter of the future for this franchise.
2011 Lineup Spot: No. 2 Hitter
Melky Cabrera has held down the No. 2 spot in the lineup for most of the '11 season.
Like Gordon and many others in the batting order, he has enjoyed a breakout season this year.
There is little reason to think that the Royals will move Cabrera from this spot in 2012.
2011 Lineup Spot: No. 3 Hitter
Butler has already solidified his number three spot in the lineup for years to come.
With 21-year-old first base phenom Eric Hosmer hitting cleanup behind him, the third spot in the batting order is a perfect place for Billy.
He has been the most consistent hitter on the team over the last five seasons and should continue to hit well in 2012 in his DH role.
2011 Lineup Spot: No. 4 Hitter
Eric Hosmer should return to his clean-up spot next season in the hear of the Royals lineup.
He has had quite a rookie season hitting there, as he he is batting over .292 with 17 homers and 71 RBI in 2010.
Hosmer should be in the No. 4 spot for a long time to come.
2011 Lineup Spot: No. 5 Hitter
Frenchy his done a great job of providing power in the middle of the KC lineup in 2010.
He's ranks first with doubles and second with homers on the team, as he has 46 and 19, respectively.
Expect him to continue to fill this role in the middle of the lineup in 2012.
2011 Lineup Spot: No. 6 Hitter
Moose has heated up after a slow start to his rookie campaign this year.
Instead of sending him back down to Triple-A during his slump, the Royals elected to keep him in the big leagues, since he will be the starting third-baseman for the team as it goes forward.
I predict that Moustakas will continue to hit in his No. 6 spot when the season begins next year.
2011 Lineup Spot: No. 7 Hitter
21-year-old catcher Salvador Perez has already shown in 2010 that he has the tools to be a great backstop in the majors for years to come.
He is known more for his defense, but he has still hit around .300 in his rookie year with the team this season.
In 2012 we should get a much better look at the guy that the Royals believe can be the future at the catcher position.
2011 Lineup Spot: No. 8 Hitter
Johnny G has struggled offensive and defensively for the Royals this season.
But lets make one thing clear: he is the second baseman of the future for this organization.
His only competition is veteran Chris Getz, and Giavotella has much more upside than Getz going forward.
2011 Lineup Spot: No. 9 Hitter
Young shortstop Alcides Escobar should round out the Royals lineup once again next season.
He has managed to hit around .250 in his first year with the team, after an early season funk that left him with a batting average that was under .200 for quite some time.
Escobar's defense alone should keep him in the starting lineup many years into the future.