With the 2012 MLB regular season now less than four months away, it's time start looking forward to the upcoming campaign.
For the Kansas City Royals, there will be many reasons to be amped for next season.
They will likely have a strong bullpen, a solid offense and a plethora of young talent to watch.
Here are 10 reasons to get excited about the Royals in 2012.
First baseman Eric Hosmer is one of the biggest keys to the future success of this franchise.
In his rookie season last year, Hosmer hit .293 with 19 homers and 87 RBIs, which was good enough for a third-place finish in the ROY award.
He also possesses Gold Glove-caliber defense that makes him fun to watch at first base.
It will be interesting to see how he does in his sophomore season.
One of the most anticipated debuts within the Royals organization this coming season will be center fielder Lorenzo Cain.
Cain was one of four players that came in the Zack Greinke deal last offseason, and with Melky Cabrera gone, it's now his time to shine for KC.
The former Milwaukee Brewers prospect brings a good combination of power and speed; he hit 16 homers and stole 16 bases last year for Triple-A Omaha.
The Royals and their fanbase will be very excited to see what they have in this talented, young outfield in 2012.
Wow, what a difference a year makes.
Before last season, many people were already writing off former first-round pick Alex Gordon and starting to label him as a bust.
Now, he is coming off the best season of his big league career after being named the Royals' POY and winning his first Gold Glove award.
Gordon appears to be the real deal, and many around KC are very excited about him going forward.
For many years, the Royals have struggled to find a solid defensive shortstop.
After watching him play last season, it seems like they've finally found their man.
Although he will still make some miscues from time to time, Alcides Escobar is as rangy and athletic as they come at the shortstop position these days.
His strong arm and great feel for the position should keep him as the Royals' starting shortstop for many years to come.
Last year, KC had one of the best bullpens in the majors.
This offseason, they added hard-throwing setup man Jonathan Broxton, who will pair with another solid setup man, Greg Holland, and All-Star closer Joakim Soria, to give the Royals' bullpen a very strong back end.
When you add in talented, young relievers like Tim Collins, Louis Coleman and Blake Wood, suddenly Kansas City has the makings of a very dominant 'pen for 2012 and beyond.
Last season was a breakthrough year for the Royals' offense.
They finished the year ranked fourth in the league in hitting with a .275 clip, and they were also eight in the ML with a team on-base percentage of .329.
With names like Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Billy Butler in the Royals' lineup, I expect their offense to be very solid for a long time.
Ever since Ned Yost has taken over as manager, it seems that something has changed on the base paths for the Royals.
They are stealing much more often than they ever did in the past.
Last season, KC was third in the majors in steals with 153 for the year.
With likely an even younger team taking the field in 2012, I expect the Royals to be stealing early and often once again in the upcoming season.
For the last few years, the idea of "Mission 2012" has been spread throughout Kansas City.
This, of course, refers to the upcoming season as the year that the Royals are finally going to break through and contend for a division title.
They seem to have the talent to do so, and their manager is leaning toward that direction as well.
Overall, the confidence seems to be sky-high with this team right now, and there's no telling what will happen if many of them start playing with that same level of confidence on the diamond this season.
This might not be completely Royals related, but it's still something to get excited about as far as baseball in Kansas City.
KC hasn't hosted an All-Star game since 1973.
That's right, there have been zero All-Star games in Kansas City since the Royals won their only World Title.
This year, that will all change as the mid-summer classic will be played at Kauffman Stadium on July 10, which is definitely something for Royals fans to be excited about.
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few years, you would know that the Royals have the top-ranked farm system in all of baseball right now.
Last year, we saw many of the first wave of prospects—Hosmer, Moustakas, Johnny Giavotella and Salvador Perez—reach the majors.
This year, a whole new wave of Royals' prospects, including Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi, will likely be that much closer to reaching the major leagues.
With a talented farm system already in place, the progress of these other prospects will be something to keep a watchful eye on in 2012.