Kansas City Royals Can Become A Dynasty In 2016

Nov 3, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City mayor Sly James speaks to fans during the Kansas City Royals victory celebration at Union Station. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 3, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City mayor Sly James speaks to fans during the Kansas City Royals victory celebration at Union Station. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /

The Kansas City Royals will be remembered as a dynasty if they can win the 2016 World Series.

Though repeating as champions is the most difficult achievement in sports, it also is the hallmark of the great teams in baseball history. Winning once is great. It enlivens any fanbase and validates the entire front office. Winning multiple titles in a short time span shows dominance of a franchise’s peers.

The KC Royals are in position to make a run at this most hallowed of franchise achievements in 2016. Not only would a 2016 World Series win give the Kansas City Royals two consecutive titles, pundits would credit the 2014 runner-ups as a championship team that was only stopped because they ran into the tail end of another dynasty: the 2014 Giants.

KC Royals general manager Dayton Moore brought back most of the band by re-signing Alex Gordon to a four-year, $72 million contract this winter. Gordon’s return means the Kansas City Royals will start with virtually the same lineup that began the 2015 season. The only real difference is replacing the departed Alex Rios in right field—which will come down to a spring training battle between reserve outfielders Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando, along with prospects Brett Eibner and Jose Martinez.

Most pundits expect that KC Royals manager Ned Yost will open the season with a Dyson/Orlando platoon and see how the season develops.

The starting pitching staff also looks quite familiar, with Edinson Volquez, Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy returning, and free-agent signee Ian Kennedy slated to replace injured Jason Vargas. Kris Medlen and Chris Young return as long-relief/starting rotation options.

Though the faces are largely the same, the roles could shift quite a bit in spring training. Duffy’s weak season in 2015 has opened the door to a three way battle for the final two rotation spots between Duffy, Medlen, and Chris Young. Prospects Kyle Zimmer and Miguel Almonte could force their way into the picture with strong showings in Surprise.

Many pundits anticipate Duffy will move to the pen, with veterans Medlen and Young filling out the rotation. I disagree. At 27 years old, and with his 2.56 ERA in 2014, I think it’s too soon to give up on the idea of Danny Duffy as a starting pitcher. I also believe Chris Young is better used as a swingman due to his fatigue issues when he has spent extensive time in the rotation the last two seasons.

The bullpen again will feature three relievers who are good enough to be closers. In 2014, Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland formed the Kansas City Royals famed HDH trio. Greg Holland’s Tommy John surgery in September of 2015 forced the KC Royals to use Ryan Madson as the third member of their bullpen trio and move Wade Davis to the closer role. In 2016, Dayton Moore replaced departing free-agent Madson (who signed with the Dodgers) by bringing back former Kansas City Royals closer Joakim Soria.

With Luke Hochevar, Tim Collins, and Chris Young likely to remain in the pen, the KC Royals will again support their starting rotation with a deep and versatile bullpen.

To me, the 2016 Kansas City Royals look just as strong as the 2015 team that ended the first half with the American League’s best record. While they lost deadline deal acquisitions Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist over the winter, continued growth from players like Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, and Salvador Perez could make up for the loss of Zobrist. Meanwhile, the hope is that Kyle Zimmer could become a strong addition to the Royals rotation down the stretch.

Next: Royals Still The Class Of The AL Central

The final factor that could push the Kansas City Royals over the top in 2016 is that this is a confident team that knows it can win in crunch time. With two consecutive AL pennants, and a title in 2015, no team will enter the 2016 season with more self-belief than Kansas City.