For every team, in every season, unexpected things happen, things nobody sees coming. For the KC Royals in 2016, you saw things that nobody could predict.
In 2016 for the KC Royals, we saw Whit Merrifield coming up and going on a hit parade. We saw Danny Duffy coming into the rotation and becoming one of the best left-handed starters in the American League. Matt Strahm became a bullpen ace late in the season.
The point is, you will see surprising things every year. Here are my predictions for what bold things will happen this year.
The Royals have multiple 30 home run hitters
Hitting 30 home runs is a very tough thing to do at Kauffman Stadium. Kauffman Stadium is known for having the biggest outfield in the majors, so home runs come at a real premium.
But the Royals still didn’t shy away from power this year. Adding sluggers such as Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss, along with the return of Mike Moustakas, the Royals could have one its best power lineups in recent history.
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One candidate to hit 30 home runs is one of the newer additions to the Royals, the DH Brandon Moss. Don’t expect Moss to be shy in a huge ballpark. Last year Brandon Moss ranked eighth among major league hitters with an average batted ball of 250 feet.
He also has experience hitting well at Kauffman Stadium, as many Royals fans know. In 17 games played at the K, Moss has posted a .853 OPS. With these numbers, Moss could very well hit 30 over the fence this year.
In addition to Moss, there are a handful of hitters that could hit 30 or more home runs this year. Mike Moustakas looked primed to reach this accomplishment last year before his ACL injury. Eric Hosmer was only five home runs away last year. If Jorge Soler can manage to stay healthy, he could have a chance for a breakout year.
Nate Karns is the Royals second starter by the end of the season
After Danny Duffy, the Royals starter with the highest upside is Nate Karns. After a rough year last year with the Mariners, the Royals hoped they could work with some of Karns off-speed stuff and turn him into an above-average starter. Recently, Karns threw a dominant six innings with good showings from his secondary stuff.
The key for Karns this year could be his curveball. Last year, he struggled to establish his curveball consistently. When his curveball was working, his stuff all came together.
For example, according to Fangraphs pitch values, Karn’s best game with his curveball resulted in seven scoreless innings, possibly his best start of 2016.If Karns can perfect some of his off-speed stuff, the Royals could have a very nice pitcher for the next couple of years.
The Royals will have things go their way and have things not go their way this year. Nonetheless, expect surprising things, good or bad, every year from this team.