AL Central Division: Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals have won the World Series more recently than the Detroit Tigers. That was in 1985. That was also the last time that they have even made the postseason. Since that time they have had 18 top ten draft picks and seven top five draft picks in the last eight years. For that reason they are loaded with young talent that are starting to pop up in the big leagues. Some of those names are Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer and Aaron Crow. Their whole lineup will be younger than 30 years old on Opening Day.
They have a very nice build of speed and athleticism up the middle and a mix of power bats and power arms in the corners. They also made a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays for some much needed starting pitching. Here is a look at the lineup that I think would suit the Royals the best during this season.
1. SS Alcides Escobar – Very fast and sure handed SS that will be able to hit .270-.280 and steal 25+ bags a year
2. CF Lorenzo Cain – Not as good of a hitter or base stealer as Escobar but has tremendous range in Center (Look for Left handed CF Jarrod Dyson to get a lot of swings here in the lineup especially vs. Righties)
3. LF Alex Gordon – Has been the poster child for the Royals since his debut in 2007. One of the best arms from the outfield in the MLB and can do just about anything you ask of him at the plate, will hit .300 with 15-20 home runs.
4. DH Billy Butler – Best hitter on the team, hit .313 last year with 29 HR’s. I could see him winning a batting title at some point in his career, has been doing it since 2007 and is only in his age 27 season.
5. 3rd Mike Moustakas – 24 years old, only hit .246 last year but did have 20 home runs. Good 3rd basemen that will solidify the left side of the field. Should hit for a better average than last year.
6. C Salvador Perez – only 22 years old, lost a lot of time early last year with an injury. In the 76 games he played last year he hit .301 with 11 HR’s. Has great potential and will be the Royals starting catcher for a long time.
7. 1st Eric Hosmer – 23 year old that is great with his glove at 1st base. Is a potential Gold Glove winner that has hit .262 with 33 HR’s and a .730 OPS in his two year career so far.
8. RF Jeff Francouer – 29 year old that will be entering his 9th season in the big leagues. Has a cannon from RF and struggle last year at the plate, hitting .235 with 16 HR’s but the year before he hit .285 with 20 HR’s. I expect he will do better further down in the lineup and with better hitters throughout the lineup to support.
9. 2nd Chris Getz – Former Michigan Wolverine that is the oldest player in the lineup, will turn 30 on August 30th. Never has been a for sure starter in the big leagues, I expect him and Johnny Giavotella to split time with Getz a lefty and Giavotella a righty. Has speed to steal bases and hit .275 last year but has only hit a home run in one season, 2009, when he only hit two.
The new Royals starting five are more solid than they were a year ago. They acquired three new players one of which is going to be their Opening Day starter. Danny Duffy probably won’t make the starting rotation at the beginning of the year but he will make his way into the rotation at some point, he is a very good young prospect. Here is what I think will be their starting rotation over the year.
1. James Shields – Big pick up with Shields, will make the Royals rotation a lot better, former All-Star.
2. Jeremy Guthrie – Traded for him during last season, through 14 games he was 5-3.
3. Ervin Santana – Acquired him in a trade from the Angels, was 9-13 last year but has a 96-80 career record. Is usually hit or miss during the season.
4. Wade Davis – another guy they picked up with Shields. Got pushed out of the rotation last year because of Matt Moore. Was 3-0 in 54 games with a 2.43 ERA.
5. Bruce Chen – led the team in wins last year with 11 but had 14 losses. 12-8 the year before.
They will not be the best rotation in the division but they look a lot better than last year. I expect the Royals to finish 3rd in the AL Central, hanging in the top for a while but then falling out of the race late in the year. I do expect them to be getting a lot better and contending in the next few years though. But that is what 20 years of top picks should do.