By David Miller @DavidMillerRant on March 14, 2014
Last season the Kansas City Royals surprised everyone but themselves with a winning season of competing with the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers in the A.L. Central. They only barely missed the wildcard berth at the end of the season. This year is the year that they plan to take the next step into being contenders for the division from the start. Can they do it with this 25-man roster when everyone knows they are coming? We shall see.
There is no doubt at this point that Gordon is not only a team leader but an MVP candidate as well heading into each season. He is not the only one they have either. Already tearing it up in Spring Training, Gordon shows no signs of slowing down in 2014.
Cain has a ton more potential than the performances he has turned in so far. That isn’t to say he has done terribly but he is capable of more. The Royals would love to see a mini-breakout season from him while staying healthy in 2014.
Aoki is new to the fray and should be a great addition. He fits their great defensive scheme extremely well and also should be a boost on an offense that needed more runs scored last season. Aoki could turn out to be a perfect fit in Kansas City for several reasons.
If the Spring Training that Moustakas is having so far is indicative of the kind of season he will have in 2014, the Royals could finally see the offensive breakout they have wanted from him. They do have other options if he struggles but he does not show any signs that he intends on allowing that to happen.
Escobar isn’t off to an awesome start this spring but he should be on schedule for a fairly standard season. He is good on defense and is good for around 50 RBI and 60 runs scored. It doesn’t make him the best shortstop in the league but he gets the job done well.
Infante could prove to be one of the biggest signings of the free agent season this year if he stays healthy. All looks great with his work and his swing but he does have some shoulder tightness he is dealing with. As his new manager Ned Yost has said, Infante’s swing doesn’t take long to get into shape so he should be fine for the season.
The Royals have a couple of big bopper options on this team that can carry a load of offensive production and Hosmer is the other one and is a possible MVP hopeful along with Gordon. His offensive contribution will be a big factor all season long.
Like everyone else on this team, Perez is one of the best defensively in the league at his position. In addition to that he is emerging as one of the best all around offensive catchers in the league as well. Look for more output from him this season in a big one from the Royals.
If anyone in MLB is a prototypical designated hitter it is Butler. He looks the part and has played it well in the past. This season, if the Royals are going to get the offense they want, they’ll need Butler to look different. He needs to resemble his 2011 or 2012 seasons instead of the downer 2013 he had.
Though my money has been on Francisco Pena to win the backup catching spot, their spring seasons so far point directly to Hayes winning the job. He will be good there. Perez just needs someone to spell him now and then as he will carry the majority of the catching load anyway.
Maxwell was a pleasant surprise last season after being traded to the Royals from the Houston Astros. This year the addition of Aoki pretty well sticks him on the bench to start. He should be a good and reliable bat there though along with being strong on defense.
Dyson is having a good spring thus far and looks to be able to be an accomplished and reliable bat off of the bench this season. The Royals certainly need a good bench though it isn’t quite as vital as it would be without the DH. Dyson is good for the job.
Brought over for depth at third base and in the rest of the infield as well, Valencia could be a very good move this season. Moustakas does not look anywhere near like someone who will lose a starting job anytime soon but Valencia is very capable in many situations.
Though his spot might go away if the Royals carry 12 pitchers instead of the 11 that are being predicted here, he could get a position anyway depending on what amount of versatility he and others show. He is tearing up the baseball this spring to try and make sure he keeps a place carved out in MLB.
Bueno might not be such a good look in this position if he’d not had a good run in the all important Winter Baseball Leagues. He did though and that should project well into him having a decent run in the bullpen to start the season.
Though any chance of him being a starter seems to be pretty much gone, Davis still can play a huge role on this team by eating some important innings and taking care of big spots out of the bullpen.
Hochevar has been as good as they get in Spring Training. It might not mean a ton to everyone but I would be willing to bet Ned Yost likes the perfect run Hochevar has started the spring with. He looks to be an ever-increasingly important bullpen option.
With a good run this spring, Collins is pretty obviously the number one lefty available out of the bullpen for Yost. If he can keep the same kind of numbers running through the season that he has now and keep his ERA under 3.00, everyone will be happy.
Crow could have a similar write-up to Hochevar with the perfect spring he has tossed up to start the season. He is an important member of this bullpen and as long as he refuses to give up runs, should be one of the best relievers in MLB.
With the season he had in 2013, Holland emerged as a quickly improving closer and could easily be among the best in the game this season if he remains healthy. He certainly has the right make-up and the right ability to get the job done well.
It is finally time for Ventura to take a starting rotation spot and run with it. Look for good things from him all season long. It could potentially be an awe-inspiring campaign for him if he does what his ability suggests he could do this season.
The re-signing of Chen might not have brought the Cy-Young award to the rotation but it certainly was a big move. Chen will give a ton of good and quality innings to the Royals who really need them if they want that bullpen to remain fresh as long as possible.
Though the team did not bring back Ervin Santana, they did bring someone in with the signing of free agent Vargas. If his 1.00 ERA so far in the spring is any indication, Vargas seems ready to throw an awesome resurgent season at all of his doubters.
In terms of having a good or bad spring training, Guthrie certainly is leaning towards the negative side. He should be fine when the season starts to eat a bunch of innings and give the great looking offense a chance to win.
There can be no doubt that Shields remains one of the top starters in MLB. He could place himself directly in the Cy-Young award conversation this season as he could at the start of any season. He is one of the best. If the Royals give him and the rest of the staff the runs they appear to be ready to give them, the Royals will have a little something special for the rest of the A.L. Central this season.
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