This 2013 Royals preview was written by Steve of http://baseballrethought.com, a site which takes a different look at the classic pastime through an economic and logical perspective.
Coming into the 2012 season, the Royals’ tagline was that it was “Our Time”. The team ultimately ended up with a 72-90 season after they were given the “sleeper pick” tagline on every SiriusXM program, miscellaneous blog post, and MLB talk show at the beginning of the season. That isn’t to say that nothing positive came out of the season as Billy Butler won a Silver Slugger for the DH position, Alex Gordon won a Gold Glove for the OF, and the All Star Game seemed to show off the city quite well, despite the booing of team captain Robinson Cano and George Brett’s interesting broadcasting.
However, the Royals definitely missed expectations and sought to fix it for 2013 by fixing their extremely lackluster starting pitching staff. In a trade with the Rays, the Royals traded for James Shields and Wade Davis in exchange for Wil Myers and three other minor leaguers. It seems that Wil Myer’s star potential is very real and he should get the call-up halfway through this year for Tampa Bay, but Shields was in high demand, perhaps upping the costs. The Royals also signed Jeremy Guthrie to a three-year $25M deal, which many see as an overpayment for a starter who was likely on his way to a minor league deal until the second half of last year.
Make no mistake – the moves the Kansas City Royals made to bolster their starting rotation will definitely help, but it’s a question of if it will help enough. Beyond big game James, the rotation still seems mediocre at best and although their lineup has received a lot of hype in recent years, there are some significant question marks. Twenty-three year old Eric Hosmer, the Royals’ first baseman of the future, struggled badly in 152 games hitting only 14 homeruns to go along with a .232 batting average. However, the potential for the rare combination of power and batting average is there, along with possibly twenty stolen bases. We also have a full season of catcher Salvador Perez to look forward to, whom some believe could hit between 20-25 homeruns with a batting average in the realm of .290. Although Jeff Francoeur has received his share of ire in the last couple years after signing his big-time contract, an outfield with Gordon and Lorenzo Cain should be top-notch defensively. The previously mentioned Billy Butler should also continue to rake doubles in the middle of that lineup. Their bullpen should be acceptable, filled largely by young arms, with Greg Holland getting the shot at saves.
In the end, the Royals definitely have a shot, especially with the relatively weak Twins giving away free wins and less-than-high expectations for the White Sox and Indians. However, the Tigers have amped up with Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter and with so much competition for the two wild-card spots, it’s still a question if this team will have quite enough to make it. Regardless, they should be a team worth keeping an eye on and this young core of hitters will be fun to see develop.