Hey, it’s a new year and a new season approaches. It may be a rough season for Royals fans, but there’s still a lot of interest in how the minor league prospects develop and the potential emergence of other strong prospects as the season goes on.
In the interest of light-hearted prognostication, I think it might be fun to toss out some predictions for the 2011 season – some good, some bad – and perhaps have a little fun thinking about what awaits us this year.
- Luke Hochevar leads the team with 12 wins and manages a 4.11 ERA. He manages to drop his walkrate to 2.5 BB/9 and improve his strikeout rate just slightly to 7 K/9 but some shaky defense allows enough grounders to go for hits that he can’t quite get that ERA under 4.
- Billy Butler returns to his 2009 power numbers, putting 25 hits over the fence and posting another 50 double season. The biggest news heading to the offseason concerns how the Royals approach a contract extension.
- Mike Moustakas gets promoted to Kansas City in the first week of June and hits 20 homers the rest of the way. He won’t walk a lot and strikes out more than in the minors, but his power is enough to get people in the seats and in September, he’ll show signs that his batting eye is improving.
- Christian Colon bounces back from a somewhat pedestrian season at Wilmington to lead the Texas League in batting average, hitting .335 for the Naturals.
- Jesse Chavez and Kanekoa Texeira don’t make it to the middle of May, as they combine for a 7.95 ERA in the first five weeks of the season. Louis Coleman and Tim Collins take their places in the bullpen and combine for 150 innings of 3.25 ERA pitching and strike out better than a batter an inning. Collins enters ballgames to the Might Mouse theme song.
- Joakim Soria is the Royals lone All-Star representative after starting the year a perfect 15 for 15 in save opportunities and maintaining a 4-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio. His curveball returns to being exceptionally filthy.
- Melky Cabrera will see 500 plate appearances at below replacement production, but he’ll be praised for his ability to “let the game come to him,” “play with a winner’s mentality,” and he’ll have a particularly quirky sit down interview with Dick Kaegel after a week-long hot streak where he goes 15-24. All 15 hits are singles.
- Alcides Escobar steals 40 bases. He makes it on Baseball Tonight’s Web Gems once every other week.
- Jeff Francoeur hits 15 homers, but only racks up a .305 on base percentage.
- Alex Gordon dominates – until August, when he separates his shoulder diving for a ball in left-center (that Cabrera doesn’t get to). He ends the year on the DL but does improve to a .275/.395/.480 line with 25 doubles and 15 homers.
- Zack Greinke wins the National League Cy Young Award, going 21-5 with a 3.11 ERA and strikes out 225 batters over 220 innings. The Brewers win the NL Central and Zack wins their only playoff game in the divisional series.
- Everett Teaford opens the year in Omaha and maintains the strong strikeout rate he achieved in Northwest Arkansas in 2010. He’s promoted in July after a Sean O’Sullivan “injury” and makes 14 starts. He’ll go 4-2, putting up a 4.90 ERA for Kasas City.
- Wil Myers makes pitchers in the Texas League lose sleep, as he dominates, slugging 29 homers and 40 doubles. He plays exactly 18 innings in right field and splits the rest of the time at DH and catcher.
- Crawford Simmons enters the discussion as the fifth great lefty in the system, as he takes the John Lamb path up the ladder, carving up both levels of A ball and ends the year behind Chris Dwyer in Northwest Arkansas in their rotation.
- Irving Falu is a September callup and makes his major league debut on September 4. He sees 15 at bats and gets two hits. He’s released in October. Royals blogs bemoan the missed opportunity for the utility infielder.
- Kila Ka’aihue walks 100 times and hits 20 homers, but nobody notices because he only hits .250.
- Clint Robinson is traded in July to make room for Eric Hosmer. Robinson’s .290/.350/.450 line in Omaha is good but not great and the Royals get a Double A arm for him. Hosmer ascends to the Storm Chasers after blistering the Texas League to the tune of .320/.390/.575 and wins the organizational hitter of the year award.
- Patrick Keating finishes with a 13.5 K/9 and gets a few innings in September. Royals blogs salivate over the potential strikeout rates of a Keating/Jeffress/Collins/Coleman/Soria bullpen.
- The Royals select Bubba Starling in June’s amateur draft. He hems and haws before signing for a $6.5 million bonus. Joe Posnanski writes a 6,500 word column about how Starling exorcises the demons left behind in local scouting after the Royals had missed out on Albert Pujols so long ago.
- Aaron Crow improves, but gets hit hard in Triple A as a starter. His 3.20 ERA doesn’t follow him north from Double A, but he spends all of August coming out of the bullpen, closing for Omaha. The Royals breathe a sigh of relief.
- Yuniesky Betancourt loses the everyday job in Milwaukee to Craig Counsell after dropping a popup in three straight games.
- Murray Watts becomes the next breakout hitter, as he slugs a homer every 9 at bats in Burlington in Low A. He gets two weeks in Wilmington and hits four homers there, too.
- David Lough finally gets into the majors to replace Gordon. He nearly reproduces David DeJesus‘s numbers from his rookie year. Royals fans on Twitter say “#toldyouso”.
- The Royals go 10-2 in the last two weeks to avoid 100 losses. The win streak puts them behind Pittsburgh in the 2012 draft.
I’m sure at least one of these will be pretty close. It’s kind of like firing a shotgun – put enough out there, cover enough area, and you’re bound to hit something.
What are your Royals prophecies for 2011?