Kansas City Royals: The Chase for Second Place in the Central
By Eric Boston
The Kansas City Royals look very different now than they did when Spring Training began. With the new look roster, what are expectations shaping up to be?
Fans generally expected a rough year for the Kansas City Royals. Of course, that was when we thought there would be a bevy of first-time major league players in the lineup. Since then, Dayton Moore has added Lucas Duda, Jon Jay, and Mike Moustakas into the fold.
At a glance, the team resembles a competent squad. With every new (or returning) face, though, predictions for the season change as well.
First, let’s take a guess at what the Opening Day lineup should look like:
Whit Merrifield – 2B
Jon Jay – CF
Salvador Perez – C
Mike Moustakas – 3B
Jorge Soler – DH
Lucas Duda – 1B
Jorge Bonifacio – RF
Alex Gordon – LF
Alcides Escobar – SS
A lineup that originally projected to have just one left-handed bat prior to the recent signings (Gordon) is now quite balanced. For the Kansas City Royals, that will go a long way in keeping an advantage over opposing pitching.
This feels like a .500 team, which I understand is not the most exciting thing in the world.
However, if the Royals can get a win total in the low 80s, it could make them a surprise team in the American League Central.
As much as I would love to tell you that GMDM has made this team into a contender in a week’s time – I simply cannot.
What my gut says is that the club will be battling to finish second in the Central division. While that doesn’t sound like such a bad thing all it really means that the team will end up with a mid-round pick when draft time rolls around next year.
Cleveland should head to the postseason as division champs in 2018. Of course, things could impact that outcome. Injuries could cause the team to struggle. A least-likely outcome would be that the team implodes and blows a division crown that is currently being handed to them on a silver platter.
Staying within the division – the Royals’ main competition for a second place finish will be the Minnesota Twins. I understand the thought that Minnesota is clearly the second-best team within the Central. I just never believe that you can really gauge how the Twins will do in any given year. They will win when they shouldn’t and fall on their face even with talent. Even so, it should be a good matchup to watch to see which of these teams finish behind the Tribe.
Sadly though there is no consolation prize for a second-place finish within the Central division. Not in 2018.
If the Kansas City Royals are left looking up at Cleveland in the final standings, they will still be joining 19 other teams in watching the playoffs from their living room couches.
The Yankees and Red Sox should end up representing the AL East and one of the Wild Card spots. It could honestly be a coin flip at this point as to who fills which role. In the AL West, Houston should look to defend their World Series title, starting with winning the division (again). That leaves the Angels to claim the second WC spot.
So here is my question to you Royals Nation. Would a second place finish in the division for the Kansas City Royals have you excited? Are the recent signings doing more good than harm? Do you see a way the team could reach the postseason in 2018? Sound off in the comments below.