Here’s a remarkable stat to keep on your mind as we edge ever-closer to Spring Training’s first game on Thursday: Every American League team with a combined starters’ ERA lower than the Kansas City Royals reached the playoffs in 2013. Even the team that beat KC out for the last Wild Card spot, the Cleveland Indians, was ranked directly behind the Royals at No. 6.
Now, remember that stat I pointed out ad nauseum throughout this offseason stating that virtually every AL team to reach the postseason last year posted top-ten homers and doubles by season’s end. With a new 1-2 punch at the top of their lineup in Norichika Aoki and Omar Infante, KC has successfully revamped the offense and dramatically increased its potential for this season. That’s not to mention a 2.55 ERA from the Royals’ bullpen that led the American League.
So, ask yourself this: Now that KC has a great chance to show improvement within both the lineup and the starting rotation, will they enter this season with a serious opportunity to reach the playoffs? That question is undeniably rhetorical at this point, and that’s the biggest reason to be excited for the 2014 season.
Oh, and just in case you still think it’s only this one year that could yield any real hope for the Royals, here’s one last optimistic stat for the road: KC’s BatAge, or average age of batter’s weighted by at-bats plus games played, is MLB‘s third-youngest, behind only the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves by 1.1 and 0.2 years, respectively. If the franchise can keep a strong core of pitching intact, they could have a chance at relevance for several years to come.