Opening Day is getting closer, and I’ve been taking a look at the teams competing for the AL Central crown. In case you missed it, I’ve already previewed the White Sox here, the Indians here, and the Tigers here. Next up: Kansas City Royals.
2012 Record: 72-90
Standing: 3rd in the AL Central
With the majority of their moves this offseason coming through trades, the Royals are clearly in “win now” mode. Like the rivaling Twins, the Royals needed pitching, and GM Dayton Moore delivered with a nearly revamped rotation. The Royals made the decision to part with top hitting prospects Wil Myers and Mike Montgomery in exchange for ace James Shields. Shields fronts the 2013 rotation, followed by Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin Santana, Wade Davis and Luis Mendoza. Bruce Chen moves to a bullpen full of power arms. Billy Butler and Alex Gordon should be solid in the middle of the Royals lineup again, with Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas ready for big years. Miguel Tejada has made the Opening Day roster, and will provide a nice bat off the bench. While these stats hardly matter, it is interesting to note that the Royals finished atop the standings for all of baseball this Spring.
Who to watch for:
Shields comes to the Royals with the weight of ace on his shoulders. The Royals are depending on Shields to lead the rotation and team into contention. He finished last season going 15-10 with a 3.52 ERA and 223 strikeouts.
Gordon is one of the most underrated players in all of baseball. Along with his defense, Gordon has put up solid numbers in back-to-back seasons and is incredibly durable, playing in 151 games in 2011 and 161 in 2012. Gordon is having a nice spring, with 7 HR and a .431 avg and 1.265 OPS.
After a successful rookie campaign in 2011, Hosmer endured a true sophomore slump a year ago finishing with a line of .232/.305/.353. As one of the best young talents in baseball, can Hosmer return to his 2011 form, when he hit .293 with 19 HR in 128 games?
Moustakas has a chance to shine in the middle of Kansas City’s lineup. Like Hosmer, he wasn’t at his full potential in 2012, but still hit 20 long balls. He has All-Star potential is a huge breakout candidate this season.
Can the Twins beat them?
It always feels the Twins/Royals series are fun, interesting games. The offense may fare similar, but the Royals definitely have a better rotation. I anticipate the same for 2013, with the Royals having the edge over the season series.
2013 Predicted Finish: 2nd place, AL Central