March 11, 2013

Can the Kansas City Royals Be Baseball's Surprise Team This Season?

By - David Dysart

It's been "our time" for a long time in Kansas City.

The "Boys in Blue" have been preaching this slogan for some time now. The last World Series title came in 1985, and the last winning season came in 2003 under manager Tony Pena. The likes of Carlos Beltran, Mike Sweeney and Joe Randa were the cogs of that squad that finished 83-79, good for 3rd in the AL Central.

The Royals ousted Allard Baird as GM in favor of long time Braves assistant GM Dayton Moore back in 2006. Since then, Moore has stockpiled talent in the minors, but it hasn't translated into big league production.

Kansas City has gone 419-553 under Moore, and it seems like "our time" is now way behind schedule. But this year looks promising, and expectations are high heading into the season. The Royals have added starting pitching depth and retained the core group of their starting lineup from last year.

Photo by: Rob Carr
In steps "Big Game" James Shields, a perennial Cy Young candidate the last two seasons who gives Kansas City what they have not had since David Cone; a legitimate No. 1 starter who can eat up innings. Shields has averaged over 210 innings a season since 2007. He has logged 14 complete games the last two years, with the bulk coming in 2011 when he chucked 11 of them.

Also added was Wade Davis, who was used out of the bullpen in Tampa last year. He will become a 3-4 starter for the Royals. He threw well for the Rays in 2012, with a 2.43 ERA and 11 strikeouts per 9 innings.

Ervin Santana was also added to the rotation, coming over from Anaheim. He had a fairly lackluster campaign last season, posting a 9-13 record and a 5.16 ERA. He had a nice WHIP of 1.27, though.

Kansas City gave up a couple of highly touted prospects in Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi during all this shuffling. Think about this: They gave up two top 15-20 prospects (not including Mike Montgomery) for a No. 1 starter and a starter converted reliever, converted back to starter. Is this anxiousness by Dayton Moore to produce or great calls on his part?

That remains to be seen.

The club was great in many offensive categories last season except the one that matters most; runs scored. They were 20th in runs and 26th in home runs, but posted the 6th best OPS in all of baseball. So get 'em on, get 'em over, and, uhhh, maybe get 'em in?

Obviously, that has to change.

The Royals have a solid lineup coming back in Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer, Sal Perez, Billy Butler and Alcides Escobar. Also Jeff Francoeur and Lorenzo Cain, coming off of an injury-plagued season, along with Miguel Tejada and Elliot Johnson. 2nd base is up in the air with Johnny Giavotella and Chris Getz battling it out for the starting spot.

A player to watch will be catcher Salvador Perez, who is coming off an injury-shortened 2012 season where he played 76 games, hit .301, and drove in 39 runs while stroking 11 homers.

The Royals have the fielding for sure, and the potential to score runs. Add the upgraded rotation and now finally seems to be the time for manager Ned Yost to put it all together.

I won't go as far as to say Kansas City will make the postseason, but expect them to be a thorn in many a team's side deep into the summer this year.


  1. Well done David. I don't think that Francoeur is any good, but the team does have talent. Perez can be a MVP candidate if he plays to his ability and stays healthy. That said, I still think this team only wins about 75 games. It's something in the makeup of Kansas City these days. I would love to see them do better, but I don't see it. My dark horse for the AL Central is the Indians, personally. I think they've added some huge pieces and will be competitive. With Bourn, Stubbs, Brantley, Carrera and Swisher they have one of the deepest outfields in baseball.

  2. And yes, I know Swisher plays 1B more than OF.

  3. Great article nephew. Just tweeted it for you!

  4. Great job. I was around for the World Series in 85. Would be good to see them back. I think they've added the pitchers for a good shot at the title again.