Sep 20, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals pitcher Greg Holland (56) celebrates with catcher Salvador Perez (13) after beating the Texas Rangers 2-1 at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Three Keys for the Kansas City Royals to Succeed in 2014

Jun 26, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost (3) walks to the mound to relieve starting pitcher Luis Mendoza (39) in the seventh inning of the game against the Atlanta Braves at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

As part of our coverage here at Kings of Kauffman, we have been bringing to you are thoughts as to what they three main keys for success in 2014 are for the Kansas City Royals. Some of these may be similar, such as the need to score more frequently than in 2013, but there may be differences. That is the fun part about finding out what different people think are the keys to the team – each person has a different opinion as to what the Royals need to do to succeed. After all, in the end, that is what we all want to see.

As so, without further ado, here are my thoughts as to the three keys for the Royals to finally reach the promised land that is playoff baseball:

1. A better back of the starting rotation: Last year, Wade Davis and Luis Mendoza combined for 39 starts for the Royals. Of those starts, only 16 were considered quality outings. Naturally, the Royals were 15-24 in games those two pitchers started. If the Royals could have gotten even close to competent pitching from those two spots at the start of the year, they may have finally broken that playoff drought.

Now, the fourth spot is taken by Bruce Chen, who cannot help but be better than the dumpster fire that was Davis. The fifth spot is up for grabs, with four candidates vying to begin the season in the rotation. However, by the end of the year, those spots are likely to be filled by Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura. If Chen and whoever the fifth starter ends up being can just hold the fort until Duffy and Ventura take over, that could go a long way.

2. Production at second base and right field: Until the Royals signed Omar Infante and traded for Norichika Aoki, I had a recurring nightmare that Dayton Moore would get really drunk one night and, remembering the good times he had with Chris Getz and Jeff Franceour, call the Gruesome Twosome, begging them to return to the Royals. I would wake in up in a cold sweat, rocking myself back and forth while sobbing. Fortunately, it was only a dream.

Instead of having two players that produced virtually nothing in the lineup, the Royals managed to acquire their first real leadoff hitter since Johnny Damon and the perfect hitter for the second spot in the lineup. The defense is likely to have improved as well, as both Aoki and Infante are solid defensive players. Of course, virtually anything would have been an upgrade over Franceour and Getz.

3. Continued health: Last year, the Kansas City Royals had the fewest days lost to injury of any team in baseball. They also did not have a single major league pitcher go on the disabled list once the season started. While teams were struggling to replace key components, the Royals kept on cruising along without concern. That excellent health was a major key to the Royals success last year. In fact, over the last four years, the Royals have averaged the fifth fewest days lost to injury.

They will need that trend to continue, especially to their key players. While each member of the roster is important, the Royals would be hard pressed to find a replacement should something happen to James Shields, Salvador Perez and Infante specifically. Instead of nitpicking as to which players are more important than others, if the Royals can continue to have the fewest games lost due to injury, they should be in excellent shape this year.

There are my three keys to the season. What factors do you feel are important? Let us know in the comments.

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