When a team has a successful offseason, expectations rise. That has certainly been the case for the Kansas City Royals this offseason, as they have taken care of several holes in the roster. Norichika Aoki and Omar Infante are likely to be the top two hitters in the lineup, while Jason Vargas fills the void left by Bruce Chen. Now, if only they can bring back Ervin Santana…..
Even with the possible hole in the rotation, the Royals have still had an excellent offseason as they have remade their team. These moves have been enough where the Royals have been ranked thirteenth in the latest power rankings issued by BleacherReport.com, only behind the Detroit Tigers in their final rankings of 2013.
Are the Royals, as presently constructed, the second best team in the American League Central? While the Twins have improved, they still are likely not a contender this season. The White Sox likely would not have been a contender anyway, but they took a step back as they attempt to get younger. The Indians were a surprise last season, but need to replace two starters in their rotation and have also seemingly taken a step back. With the Tigers trading away Prince Fielder and Doug Fister, the gap between the Royals and the Tigers may even be smaller than it is thought to be at this point.
Considering where the Royals had been before last season, and over the majority of the past two decades, being considered one of the better teams before the start of the season is definitely a step in the right direction. The Royals may even be a trendy pick to make the postseason, expected to end their postseason drought after 29 long years. Playing in what is expected to be a weaker division while the American League East and West beat up upon one another, the Royals could well slip in as a Wild Card.
There is still a long time between now and Opening Day. Difference makers such as Santana, Matt Garza and Masahiro Tanaka have yet to sign. But for now, the Kansas City Royals are expected to be a playoff contender and may even be able to challenge the Tigers for the division. That alone justifies their standing at this point in the offseason.