Kansas City has been waiting for postseason baseball for a long time. The Kansas City Royals look determined to get them there this year, but we’re still 162 games away from determining which teams will be playoff-bound by season’s end. KC finished the year with six fewer wins than the team that earned the final American League Wild Card spot, the Cleveland Indians. Things should be just as close this season, so it could be the small things that decide the Royals’ fate in 2014.
Overall team defense is far from a small thing, but it often goes under-appreciated these days. In the shadows of the Steroid Era, the sweet arts of defense are almost forgotten, but they’re perhaps no more finely exhibited than right here at Kauffman Stadium. Their stellar defense is one game better with the new additions and further evolution of young defenders, so score it a +1.
Their potential to avoid injury, and the depth available to them when they don’t, must also be taken into account. The Royals have reached a remarkable level of roster solidity with backup outfielder Justin Maxwell, offensive X-factor Jarrod Dyson and right-handed specialist bat Danny Valencia. This solid roster, on top of improvements to the coaching staff in Dale Sveum, Don Wakamatsu and Mike Jirschele, give the Royals an additional +1.
After my other predictions, this brings KC to a projected 91 wins this season. That’s my prediction, but I unfortunately don’t believe it will enough wins to outnumber those of the arch nemesis Detroit Tigers. Expect Detroit to squeak by with the Central, but expect KC to finally reach the postseason with a Wild Card.