5 Keys to Success for the Kansas City Royals in 2014

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Kansas City Royals: 5 Important Factors in 2014

Omar Infante
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Allow me to kick a dead horse, just for the sake of getting it out of the way: the Kansas City Royals are on the brink of being really good, and for a starving, abused fan-base, it's a big deal.

With that said, I'll try to keep the drama to a minimum while we break down the reasons why 2014's version of the Royals will either be better or worse than they were last year.

A constant stream of roster movement news steadily altered the 2013 Royals into the team that goes down on paper today. The difference between those two squads is vast, but the mission remains the same -- the Royals want to make a playoff appearance, and they think they're poised to do it right now. With the help of some big free agent acquisitions and at least one thoughtful, team-first decision, KC has no reason to believe they aren't ready to win this season.

I decided the lion's share of this article should be devoted to pluses for the sake of being positive, but that is not to say that the good doesn't logically outweigh the bad this year. It does for once, and cheering for a team so close to being perennially relevant in the MLB is really exciting. Ahead, you'll find two reasons why KC is a worse team on paper right now than they ever were in 2013, followed by the three biggest reasons why they're now better.

Doug LaCerte is a writer for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @DLaC67, "Like" him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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5. Ervin Santana

Ervin Santana
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
It goes almost without saying that KC will struggle to improve upon last year's success from the starting rotation. Jason Vargas is no Ervin Santana, and nobody can automatically project to be better than Santana in this year's starting five. The downgrade will have to be remedied by one of the many players fighting for the final rotation spot if KC wants to avoid a disappointing 2014.
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4. Hitters

Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

For the Royals to get better this season, they need more production from the heart of the lineup. Both DH Billy Butler and third baseman Mike Moustakas slumped last season, and it will be a tough task for the Royals to win in spite of them this year.

But, enough with the negative. Continue to find the three reasons why KC will be able to accomplish their 2014 goals.

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3. Royals Prospects

Jorge Bonifacio
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jorge Bonifacio is just one of many reasons why the Royals' top prospects are among the highest-ranked in the entire league this year. Numerous players from the farm system could compete for major-league playing time in 2014.
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2. Pitchers

Danny Duffy
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
The Royals are currently a team rich with noteworthy young arms, and each year those arms grow more and more refined. Along with Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura, who the team says will both compete for a starting rotation spot, KC is also looking forward to the bright future of the intensely hyped Kyle Zimmer, to name just a few.
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1. New Lineup

Norichika Aoki
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
The new season will bring a completely new look to KC's batting lineup. With a brand new plan involving a new lead-off man and two-hitter in Norichika Aoki and Omar Infante respectively, the Royals can expect way more men on base for the heavy hitters in the 3-5 spots in the lineup to bring home. This is the No. 1 difference between the hard-hitting 2014 Royals and the struggling offensive lineups of yesteryear.

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