This is one of a series of posts in which I will be breaking down every team in baseball. I am by no means a credible source—merely a casual fan who knows a little about baseball and would like to share my observations.
Today we look at the Royals, a young team loaded with talent. Could this finally be the year they turn their fortunes around?
Projected Lineup: RF Norichika Aoki, 2B Omar Infante, 1B Eric Hosmer, DH Billy Butler, LF Alex Gordon, C Salvador Perez, 3B Mike Moustakas, CF Lorenzo Cain, SS Alcides Escobar
The Royals had a big offseason, even dipping their toes into the world of popular music. Lorde’s hit song “Royals” was inspired by her excitement at the team’s signing of Omar Infante. The lyric, “I’ve sever seen a diamond in the flesh” is a reference to the Royals’ World Series drought, and the hope that Infante could be the guy that finally gets them that elusive championship ring.
Ok, that might not be 100% true.
But the Royals did add some impressive pieces this winter, including Infante and new right fielder Nori Aoki.
The two veterans are welcome additions to a lineup full of ever-improving youngsters. Eric Hosmer leads the youth movement, continuing to develop more as a hitter each year, to the point where you can pretty much call him a superstar now and no one would argue. He really turned it on in the second half last season, hitting .323 after the All-Star Break. And it wasn’t just a few disconnected hot streaks—rather, he stayed very consistent: hitting .324 in July, .323 in August, and .324 in September.
The Royals also boast one of the best defenses in baseball, with three incumbent Gold Glove Award winners, including Hosmer, catcher Salvador Perez and left fielder Alex Gordon. Alcides Escobar also has been known to flash the leather once in a while, when he needs to remind Ned Yost to keep his bat in the lineup. Basically, the Royals’ defense is an array of vacuums that inhale fly balls (they even have a guy named Dyson—you can’t make this stuff up!), which will be a huge advantage in close games and critical situations.
It also helps to have a lights-out closer to shut the door. Greg Holland notched 47 saves last year with an ERA of 1.21. There may not be a more dominant closer in the game, and that’s taking into full consideration that guy in Atlanta. For the record, Holland was better than Craig Kimbrel—let me just say those words again, because I don’t get a chance to say them often—better than Craig Kimbrel last year in WHIP (.866 to Kimbrel’s .881) and strikeouts per nine innings (13.8 to Kimbrel’s 13.2).
One more guy to keep an eye on this year is rookie Yordano Ventura. He won a rotation spot out of camp after blowing everybody away this spring with a fastball that routinely clocks at 100 mph. How well he does this year will depend on the strength of his secondary pitches, but one thing’s for sure—he’ll be fun to watch.
These Royals have the talent to make a strong charge into the postseason, and the youth to keep getting better for years to come. And for those who doubt them—they don’t care. They’re driving Cadillacs in their dreams.
Projected Finish: 91-71, First place in AL Central