We are slowly crawling to the fantastic day when pitchers and catchers report to Surprise for spring training 2012. Guess we could have a countdown for the season opener in Anaheim versus the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of the State of California of the United States of America of Earth. With the calendar showing 37 days until the start of spring training I figured I’d count down 37 facts, figures and questions dealing with the Royals:
37 – Sean O’Sullivan- Yes it’s his number but how will Sully be used this year? He spent time in Omaha last year plus came out of the bullpen at times in Kansas City. Many fans are still waiting on him to do something productive for the organization since he was acquired.
36 – No, this has nothing to do with Kyle Snyder who wore number 36 for Kansas City (but congrats on his new position within the Rays minor league system). It has everything to do with if someone (Eric Hosmer?) can break Steve Balboni’s club record of 36 homeruns in 1985?
35 – Speaking of Mr. Hosmer can he avoid a sophomore slump? Sure he is one of many that we’ll ask this question about but he is a cornerstone of the group of youngsters. Personally, I feel that he is the leader of the youth of the team so let’s see how his offseason paid off.
34 – Ok, I’m cheating here but will we see something that’s not happened since 2000 when 4 Royals hit over .300. Get it .300 plus four? Can Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Johnny Giavotella and Hosmer (or really any four) accomplish this?
33 – Or 363 - Is 2012 the year that someone breaks George Brett’s record for total bases?
32 – Vin Mazzaro – We all remember Vinny for taking one on the chin last year but, asking a serious question, how will he help the team this year? After his no good very bad day he pitched okay in Omaha (4.29 ERA). Maybe out of the ‘pen?
31 – Royals record for intentional walks set by Brett in 1985. If the lineup does what we hope I think Butler could break this easily.
30 – Hey, the greatest Royal ever, Brett once again shows up, this time with his club record 30 game hitting streak which occurred in 1980. Any candidates on this team who could get this record? Call me crazy but I think Gordon or Mike Moustakas could string together a nice streak.
29 – Mike Sweeney, why? Well not because he finished with a .297 batting average when he retired. But he is expected to play a role within the organization in spring training and helping the team with their younger guys. Also, greatest number 29 (ok maybe second behind Dan Quisenberry) in club history plus the modern day Mr. Royal until unseated by a younger guy.
27 – Brayan Pena – the other guy who’ll be fighting to be the backup to Perez in KC this season (because I don’t see the team carrying three catchers).
26 – Hits in a game which Kansas City accomplished in game one of a doubleheader September 9, 2005 in Detroit. Can this offense be as good as advertised or hoped and just slug the heck out of an opponent this year?
25 – Clint Robinson – does he have a role on the team or can he be flipped to a team in for something that could help the team at some point. Seeing him in Omaha last year makes you wonder what he could do, unfortunately he is in a logjam at first base.
24 – .240 The team batting average in 1969, the Royals inaugural season. Runner-up was Mark Teahen a fan favorite with the Royals who wore this number.
23 – Danny Duffy – With how the rotation is currently looking he needs to be better than he was in 2011. I like Duffy’s makeup and expect him to start rounding into a good young player this year.
22 – 522, this is the club record for extra-base hits that has stood since 1977. Again another number that I’d like to see get taken down.
21 – Jeff Francoeur, who was one of bright spots of last year, so much so that he earned a contract extension. Can Frenchy build upon last season where offensively and defensively he showed flashes of stardom like early in his career?
20 – Frank White – We know that the club’s best fielder will not be in the broadcast booth in 2012. Here is to Mr. White the best second baseman in club history.
19 – Players and managers who are in the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame: Steve Busby, Amos Otis, Dick Houser, Cookie Rojas, Paul Splittorff, Dennis Leonard, Hall McRae, Larry Gura, Freddie Patek, George Brett, Frank White, John Mayberry, Dan Quisenberry, Whitey Herzog, Willie Wilson, Jeff Montgomery, Bret Saberhagen, Mark Gubicza and Kevin Appier.
17 – Chris Getz – What will he do to help this team during the 2012 campaign? Getz and Yuni are set to be the utility guys this season or take over if Gio doesn’t do well at second this season.
16 – Billy Butler – will this be the year that Country Breakfast has his breakout home run season? Many have waited and hopefully it finally happens.
15 – Strikeouts in a game. I remember Zack Greinke’s 2009 accomplishment against Cleveland, but can a member of this year’s staff accomplish this?
14 – 144 which is Mike Sweeney’s club record for RBIs in a season in 2000. Can it be done this season?
13 – Sal Perez – I’m really excited to see how he improves from the little sample we got to end the 2011 season. Perez is the undisputed starting catcher for the club and hope that he continues to grow in this role.
12 – Mitch Maier – He’s KC’s best answer to a utility guy in the fact that he can play all three outfield spots and can serve as an emergency catcher.
11 – Hal McRae – who could be on his way to being unseated by Butler as the best DH in club history, Billy has accepted this role and is close to locking this distinction down.
10 – Dick Howser – the lone manager to lead the Royals to a world title.
9 – 1+8 = 9 so let’s hope that Dan Reichert’s club record of 18 wild pitches set in 2000 remains his and his alone.
8 – Moose! – Moustakes continues to build off the strides he made in September and progress that we saw at the end of last year. I’m sure we’re all hoping offensively and defensively to see him improve during his first full season with the club.
7 – Playoff appearances in club history with the last coming in 1985. Let’s hope this is a streak that ends or comes close to ending.
5 – George Brett has shown up on this countdown plenty and I’d like to see the next generation of Royals players start to move in on some of his club records (after a few years, of course).
3 – Ned Yost – Someone not talked about is so often is the leader of the ship who I feel has as much control of the team’s success this season as anyone. You might devalue the importance of the manager since he just fills out the lineup card or makes pitching changes but his role will be important in 2012.
2 – Pennants won by the Royals 1980 and 1985.
1 – 1985 World Series Champions, not saying a title will be the result this year but I think we all feel the excitement for this year unlike any in awhile.
Feel free to share any of your random thoughts in the comments below.
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Tags: Alex Gordon Billy Butler Brayan Pena Chris Getz Clint Robinson Dan Quisenberry Danny Duffy Dick Howser Eric Hosmer Frank White George Brett Jeff Francoeur Johnny Giavotella Kyle Snyder Lorenzo Cain Manny Pina Mark Teahen Mike Moustakas Mike Sweene Mitch Maier Ned Yost Sean O'Sullivan Steve Balboni Vin Mazzaro Willie Wilson