Jul 24, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar (center) celebrates with teammates Mike Moustakas (8) , Salvador Perez (13) , Jarrod Dyson (1) and James Shields (33) after hitting a walk-off double against the Baltimore Orioles during the ninth inning at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

2014 May be the Year the Royals Return to the Postseason

Sep 23, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer (35) celebrates after the Kansas City Royals defeating the Seattle Mariners during the 12th inning at Safeco Field. Kansas City defeated Seattle 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

It was a long time ago – 29 years, to be exact – when a six year old version of myself was introduced to the game of baseball by turning on the 1985 World Series. Watching the game, I’m not sure which one it was, I became a Royals fan due to the quirkiness of Dan Quisenberry‘s submarine delivery. Who would have thought that, 29 years later, that would be the Royals last appearance in the postseason?

That may be about to change. Fresh off their best season since 1989, the Royals have taken steps to solidify an offense that ranked among the worst in the American League last season. Norichika Aoki and Omar Infante should help out the starting lineup, while Danny Valencia may be the perfect platoon partner for Mike Moustakas. If Billy Butler improves off last year, and Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez take that next step in their production, then the offense has the potential to be a lot better than they were last season.

While the pitching staff may regress, the improvement by the offense may be more than enough to make up for it. Jason Vargas is more of a replacement for Bruce Chen than for Ervin Santana, and it may be that the Santana could still find his way back to the Royals. Should he go through the same situation that Kyle Lohse found himself in last offseason and his price continues to drop, then perhaps he can find his way back to Kansas City.

Another factor is the state of the American League Central. While the Tigers have long been the dominant team in the division, they have certainly weakened. Prince Fielder no longer calls Detroit home, and the rotation has lost a solid piece in Doug Fister. The Tigers may still be the favorites, but the gap separating them from the Royals has certainly shrunk.

As Sam Mellinger said in his piece a few days ago, it is a great time to be a Royals fan. The present, as well as the future, appear to be bright for the Royals, and with a reasonable improvement from the offense, a postseason berth could end up forthcoming.

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