Opening day is in one week, which means there’s a light at the end of the the tunnel and we can all stop saying “yeah well it’s only spring training”. I’m excited and no doubt you are as well.
The Royals decided that they were in full-time development mode no more this offseason and while there’s never consensus on transactions, the moves were particularly worthy of discussion. That being the case, there are a lot of questions about what the future holds for 2013 and how the Royals will do.
For that reason, we’ve put our heads together to try to get a range of opinions about how this year will turn out. We’ll give our thoughts on who will be the Royals MVP, some thoughts on the team, we’ll make a bold prediction or two, make a prediction for a final win total and, for the brave souls who can stand the pain of memory, some of us have gone with a “fun” idea of projecting how many home runs Wil Myers will hit. Because why not torture ourselves, right?
- Mike Vamosi: Alex Gordon – Country Breakfast is valuable but Gordo is the key factor for what he does everyday on offense and defense. He continues to improve and I think this will be the best year yet.
- Brian Henry: Billy Butler – I really think he is going to repeat or exceed last year, and if he does will be the anchor of the offense.
- Marcus Meade: Mike Moustakas – He’s having a great spring, the most impressive thing being his more patient approach.
- Tony Botts: Salvador Perez – He’s a serious All-Star candidate, while also one of the few offensive stars from last season’s offensively weak team.
- Jordan McLaughlin: Alex Gordon – For the third year in a row, he will be the team’s most consistent performer at the plate. Another Gold Glove and a few AL MVP votes will set him up as the team MVP.
- Bob Ellis: I’ll play it safe and say Alex Gordon. With his offensive and defensive skills, I think he’s the best all around player on the roster. There are guys who hit better, run better, and so on…but nobody has put it all together like Alex has over the past couple of seasons. A healthy Lorenzo Cain could give Alex some competition though…
- Hunter Samuels: I’d like to pick an unexpected player here, but I’ll go ahead and echo what seems to be the popular sentiment and go with Alex Gordon. Not only do I think he has the best all-around season for the Royals, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the top 5 of AL MVP voting, especially if Kansas City can make a push to the playoffs.
- Jeff Parker: Alex Gordon – He’s been the team’s best all around player the last two seasons. I have no reason to believe he won’t be again this year.
- Ethan Evans: Salvador Perez – I think Sal puts together an entire season and asserts his dominance.
- Kevin Scobee: (He actually laughed because we all know his vote is for Alex Gordon)
- Michael Engel: Alex Gordon – He’s the best overall player on the team and after two consecutive seasons with all-around performance, he’s got the best chance of anyone to contribute in every facet of the game.
Bold Predictions (Big League Edition)
- Vamosi: Alex Gordon will finish in the top three in the AL MVP race in 2013 and start in the All-Star Game in Flushing, New York.
- Meade: Wade Davis leads the Royals in ERA and wins.
- Botts: With the current roster the Royals are carrying, the Royals could potentially send three to four players to the All-Star this year. James Shields is sure to get a ton of fan support if his numbers with the Rays transition to the Royals club house. Alex Gordon is tearing up spring training and has the ability to continue his tear through the first half of the season. Finally, Salvador Perez is sure to ‘wow’ American League fans with his explosive arm and steady bat.
- McLaughlin: Billy Butler, who keeps adding power and strength, challenges and breaks Steve Balboni‘s franchise single season home run record of 36.
- Ellis: A healthy Lorenzo Cain pushes Gordon for the team MVP. If he does what I think he’s capable of…look for top-notch defense, 15 homers, 30 steals…he could be a real key to a Royals playoff run this year.
- Samuels: The Royals will, in fact, replace Jeff Francoeur in right field at some point this summer, and there will be much rejoicing in basements everywhere.
- Parker: Mike Moustakas becomes the first Royal since 2000 to hit 30 home runs in a season.
- Evans: Jeff Francoeur takes over 50 walks. Ok, that’s kind of tongue in cheek, but, hey, bold.
- Scobee: Alex Gordon gets voted in as an All-Star starter.
- Engel: I have a weird hunch about Ervin Santana. I think he stays healthy all year, controls the long ball, and looks like Santana of 2011.
Bold Predictions (Prospect Edition)
- Vamosi: Kyle Zimmer will be in Kansas City by the end of the season in the bullpen.
- Henry: Cheslor Cuthbert is going to have a good year and reestablish his status as a top prospect.
- Meade: Kyle Smith dominates in high A, moves up to AA and continues to pitch well. He becomes a top-100 prospect.
- Botts: Yordano Ventura will occupy the fifth spot in the rotation as a permanent move before season’s end.
- McLaughlin: Sam Selman continues to dominate after his impressive first professional season and has a fast rise to High A. Reminds people that Kyle Zimmer wasn’t the only top college pitcher drafted by the Royals in 2012.
- Ellis: The barely seen Bubba Starling will impress this year and make the jump from Rookie league up to AA with an impressive display of power and speed, putting critics (like those at Fangraphs) and questions to rest. This is the year Starling earns his lofty Baseball America ranking. Bubba puts himself on the map in a big way this year…and challenges for a spot in the Royals OF in 2014.
- Samuels: Miguel Almonte starts to soar up the prospect rankings by dominating the competition at the Low A level, before finishing the season at Wilmington as a 20 year-old.
- Parker: At some point in the second half Christian Colon becomes the team’s starting second baseman.
- Evans: Yordano Ventura moves into the starting rotation by September. I don’t know, why not? Although, I feel that this may only happen if the Royals are out of contention. So maybe I shouldn’t predict this?
- Scobee: Maybe not so “bold”, but Yordano Ventura is dominating the minors so much the Royals are forced to bring him to the big leagues. At first he’s used as a long man, spot starter, but then he forces his way into consistent starts, and ends up the second best starter by the end of the year. (Which isn’t so bold considering there’s only one above average starter on the roster)
- Engel: Outfielder Alexi Rivera crushes in the rookie league and jumps into the Royals top 15 prospects.
Win Total Predictions
- Vamosi: 78-84
- Henry: The Royals will have a better season, and finish it in a Royal sort of way at 80 and 82 coming up just short of .500 and leading to an interesting off season. The rotation is very average, and the offense is as well unless there is some major progression from Moose and Hosmer.
- Meade: 90-72. I stated as much in a post a couple weeks ago, and I’m sticking to it.
- Botts: Between Wade Davis, Ervin Santana and James Shields, Royals improve win total from 2012 by 15 wins. 87-75 finishing second behind Detroit.
- McLaughlin: 85-77. Hochevar to the pen and James Shields anchoring the staff puts this team above 500 for the first time since 2003.
- Ellis: 87-75
- Samuels: 85-77, good enough for 2nd place in the AL Central, and 4 games out of a wild card berth. I really want to see a division title, but the Tigers are going to be a very good team. The Royals will hang around and play meaningful games in September for the first time in 10 years, which is an exciting, yet sad, statement to make.
- Parker: 80-82. The Royals are getting closer but aren’t quite there yet though I do think they’ll hang around the top of the division until the middle of August. That will likely disappoint some people, but considering they haven’t hung around the race that long since 2003, I’ll take it.
- Evans: 85-77. I’m not comfortable jumping into the 90-win pool. It’s a bit too out of my comfort zone. I don’t think the Royals win enough to take the division. I think wild-card is a possibility if everything falls into place. But again, “if everything falls into place” sounds like something I said last year.
- Scobee: 78-84. The so called upgrade in pitching ends up being negligible combined with only having three above average bats on offense. The Royals once again finish last in the majors in walks, and once again no one can figure out just way the offense won’t live up to its “potential”.
- Engel: 82-80
- Kings of Kauffman average win total: 84.8
Wil Myers Home Run Predictions
- Vamosi: MLB 10, MiLB 18, I think Tampa Bay will keep him in the minors for most of the first half and when he gets called up playing at the Trop will hurt this numbers.
- Henry: He will likely be in the minors for a couple of months, and that will limit him to 300 to 400 PAs and 11 HR.
- Meade: Major League 7, Minor League 12
- Botts: MLB 6, MiLB 19
- McLaughlin: 14 at the major league level after a fast start in triple A gets him called up to the big club very early in the season.
- Ellis: Myers will start off the year in AAA again, and will likely get off to another hot start. I don’t know when he’ll be promoted, but I think he will hit come up to the big leagues and, while adjusting, will still put up some decent numbers. I look for 12 homers at the big league level.
- Samuels: I think Myers hits around 15 in AAA before being promoted, and he gets another 7 at the major league level. I also predict that the Myers/Shields trade will be proclaimed as a victory or a loss based on Myers’ performance, which will cause me to shake my head in derision.
- Evans: 27 – 12 in the minors, 15 in the majors. Breaking up is hard to do.
- Engel: He’ll come up in June and hit 15 homers for Tampa.
While I think Kansas City will be better in 2013 than they’ve been in sometime I feel they fail to get to .500. Starting pitching will be better but can KC solve the Detroit problem of last (lost a lot of one run games in going 5-13 against the Tigers) season. I’ve got the Royals making a six game improvement from last season and will be competitive all season long, but the optimism is as high as its been.
My general feeling is that without an upgrade at right field, and my fear of Hosmer struggling again, this offense still needs more time to mature. The pitching staff is not good enough to carry the team yet. Next year with Duffy and Paulino back, and maybe Zimmer or Lamb improving along with another year for the young guys in the offense, then we can start talking about contention.
I’m extremely optimistic about the season, especially with how healthy the Royals currently are. The talent is there for them to be a playoff team, and the players they need to be good look solid so far.
Overall, the Royals have definitely put themself in a spot to contend. The Royals main goals, especially early on, is to stay healthy from a pitching stand point. As for Dayton Moore, his role is to find a suitable replacement for Jeff Francoeur in right field, whether that is through the trade market or possibly the Royals’ farm system.
Optimism and anticipation are at the same levels as last season but with additions to the rotation, which were badly needed, this team competes as contends all the way into September.
I’m more optimistic about this team than I have been in years, and while I do expect significant improvement from the 2012 squad, I don’t think it will be enough to steal a playoff spot from Detroit. On the positive side, the city will be buzzing all summer long, and crowds will flock to the K in hopes that the longest active playoff drought in sports will come to an end.
A lot of things have to go right, and there are questions about nearly every player, but the talent is improved and the rotation will be better. The Royals have more depth than last year as well, which should help them weather injuries. I’ve always been a James Shields fan and I like what I’ve seen from Wade Davis. A little luck, a little progression from the hitters and there could be some surprises. But nobody can expect the playoffs yet.