Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Kansas City Royals Preview/Prediction

Now that we got the division predictions done it is time to dig a little bit deeper.  Between now and the opener in Japan each team will get their own prediction/preview.  I am going to go in alphabetical order.

Our next post takes us down up to Kansas City, where a bevy of young studs has changed the culture around on this team.  This will be one of my favorite teams to watch throughout the year, as all of this talent comes to the big club.

Infield:  Brayan Pena at catcher, Eric Hosmer at first base, Johnny Giavotella at second base, Alcides Escobar at short stop and Mike Moustakas at third base.

Brayan Pena was not supposed to start this year, but with an injury to Salvador Perez he is the guy.  He doesn't do anything spectacular but doesn't do anything that terrible either, so for a catcher he will be a decent replacement until Perez comes back.  Hosmer is an absolute animal with the bat, and he is only 22.  He will be the best overall for first baseman in the American League Central this year, and it is because he does everything well.  He has double digit stolen bases last year to go with 19 home runs and almost a .300 batting average, in his first taste at the Major League level.  He will continue to get better and develop and the sky is the limit for him.  Giavotella has some competition from Chris Getz as the second baseman on opening day, but I think he will get it.  If he keeps it or not is all dependent on how he bats in the number two hole in this line up.  Escobar was attained in the Geinke trade from a couple years ago and even though the Royals brought back Yuniesky Betancourt, Escobar should be the starter.  He did have 26 stolen bases last year but he has got to improve on that .254 average in order to keep his everyday job.  Moustakas is another of the hot shot prospects to come up, but unlike Hosmer he struggled a little bit last year.  I think he will be fine as long as there isn't any pressure on him and he will continue to work his way into a good role for this team.  I think eventually both Hosmer and Moustakas will be all-stars, and how long has it been before the Royals had multiple all-stars?

Who will have the best season of these guys? Eric Hosmer will continue to develop his approach at the plate and will have an even better year in 2012.  He will hit over .300, steal 20 bases and hit 30 home runs.  I think the Royals have found a fantastic first baseman to build the rest of the team around.

Outfield:  Alex Gordon in left field, Lorenzo Cain in center field, and Jeff Francouer in right field.

Alex Gordon was supposed to be the biggest thing to come to Kansas City since George Brett.  He was also supposed to be doing this at third-base.  Last season was his last chance to make an impression on the team and what an impression it was.  After switching to left field all he did last year was hit .300 with 23 home runs and 45 doubles.  That is the Alex Gordon the Royals have been waiting for!! Lorenzo Cain only played in 6 games with the Royals last year, but with Melky Cabrera gone he is the favorite to start opening day in center field.  He didn't steal any bases last year but I expect him to wreak havoc on the bases from the bottom of that line up.  Francouer is a lot like Gordon in that they both were heralded prospects who had a good 2011 to probably save his career.  He still has that rocket for an arm, but after flaming out in both Antlanta and New York 2011 was his last shot to prove he should be on a team.  All he did with his last opportunity was hit .285 with 20 home runs and 47 doubles.  He still strikes out a lot but it is good to see someone come back from the down years he was having with a year like this.  Hopefully 2012 continues his run of success.

Who will have the best season of these guys? Even though Francouer and Gordon are similar in terms of the paths they took to got to where they are now, Gordon is still three years younger and has better tools at the plate.  I'm going to say Gordon is going to have a better year, only because of a higher batting average.  Look for both to once again get over 40 doubles and 20 home runs.

Starting Pitching:  Jonathan Sanchez, Luke Hochevar, Bruce Chen, Danny Duffy, and Felipe Paulino.

Sanchez came over from the Giants in a trade for Melky Cabrera.  I am going to call it right now that the Royals will get the better end of that trade.  Sanchez struck out 102 batters in 102 innings last year, but he also walked 66.  Those numbers tell me that he has talent but has no idea which direction the ball is going.  I think he tones down the walks, gets a full season worth of starts, and pays immediate dividends for the Royals this year.  Hochevar was the number one overall pick in 2006, and while it is safe to say that if the draft was redone he wouldn't be, he still does have some talent to get hitters out. I think he takes another small step forward this year and has his first winning season. It seems like Bruce Chen has been pitching forever, and last year was one of his best years to date.  He went 12-8 with an ERA under 4, but he does have a tendency to have some really bad outings.  He is a flyball pitcher with not a lot of velocity, so if he is pitching in Texas, Boston or New York watch out, because he might get whiplash with all the home runs he i  s sure to serve up.  Duffy is another one of those young kids who was thrust into duty last year.  He didn't fare as well as others, but he does have good stuff and I like his make up.  I think he gets to double digit wins this year.  Paulino throws really hard (his fastball averaged 95 mph last year) but he throws a lot of pitches and usually fails to get deep into games.  He will continue to tax his bullpen and get roughed up this year, and I predict another double digit loss season for him.

Who will have the best season of these guys? I think Hochevar will have the best year of any of these starters.  This is the year he turns it around and starts looking like a guy worthy of a #1 draft pick.  He will lead the team in wins this year, and I'm going to say he gets to 16.

Bullpen: Joakim Soria, Jonathan Broxton, Jose Mijares, and Todd Collins

Soria  has been part of trade rumors the last three years and he has managed not to let them bother him and pitch very well.  He has been the brightest spot of this team and now he has some talent around him.  Broxton was an all-star closer for the Dodgers but only threw in 14 games last year.  He needs to prove to teams that he can still be an effective reliever, and I think he will be for the Royals this year.  Mijares is a lefty and that is about the only thing going for him.  His numbers since his debut in 2008 have been remarkably pedestrian, and that trend will probably continue.  Tim Collins is only 22 years old and he walked 48 batters in 67 innings last year, but so far this spring has shown a vast improvement in his ability to throw strikes.  He will need to prove that he can continue that in the regular season, but a fan favorite at only 5' 7", he has been fighting adversity his whole life and this is just another stepping stone for him.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  I'm going to go off the board here a little bit and say Broxton. I think he regains his all-star form now that he is healthy and just blows the doors off his competition.  An ERA under 2 and more than a strike out per inning are both numbers I think Broxton can, and will, hit.

Record 83-79 3rd in the American League Central

Next up:  Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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