The Kansas City Royals, as they and every other professional team in every sport on the planet do every close season, have been working over the winter to improve the team for 2013. They have done a bloody good job so far and the team for next year looks impressive. But in a long baseball season, there are some things that are simply in the lap of the gods. There are some things, and one in particular, about which the Royals can do little more than hope for improvement.
The biggest thing the Royals want, and really need, is better luck with injuries. Three pitchers either missed the entire season or had it ended early with Tommy John surgery. The two starters of the bunch, Felipe Paulino and Danny Duffy, had combined for a 5-3 record and a 2.62 ERA before being shut down. There was a revolving door between Kansas City and Omaha as players came up from and went down to AAA almost constantly to make spot starts and cover for niggling injuries to members of the bullpen. And that was just the pitching. The Royals lost Salvador Perez early in the year and had to make do with Brayan Pena and Humberto Quintero until 22 June. Those two combined for at best average defence and a .239 batting average before Perez came off the D/L. Perez showed just how much he was missed; he hit .301 with eleven home runs in his 76 games and led the major league catchers with five pickoffs.
Those injuries probably did not cost anything more than a bit of dignity in the long run; it would be nice to say that the presence of Perez would have stopped the twelve game losing streak early or that Paulino or Duffy would have pushed the Royals up the table over the course of the year and both might be true. But it is all speculation and it’s hard to imagine any effect that would even have got the Royals up to parity, let alone contention. But they put the Royals behind the game from the word go and they were always chasing. If there is one thing the Royals really want in 2013 it will be better fortune with respect to injuries.