Kansas City Royals
Home Ballpark: Kauffman Stadium
2014 Finish: 89-72 · 2nd AL Central
Over/Under Wins in 2015: 83 · Push/Under
What We Love:
- Gold Glove Defense: With an above average defender manning every defensive position on the field, the Royals may very well have the best defense in MLB. The 2014 season saw the trio of Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon win back to back Gold Gloves at their respective positions; for Alex Gordon it was his 4th in a row. In fact, if it wasn’t for J.J Hardy’s glove in Baltimore, the Royals could very well have had a fourth Gold Glover in the fold, as SS Alcides Escobar has been an exceptional defender these past few seasons. The Royals also have the glove (and wheels) of OF Jarrod Dyson waiting on the bench. Dyson’s speed allows him to patrol the spacious outfield of Kauffman with relative ease. The Royals love being able to move Cain to RF to allow for Dyson’s glove and wheels to roam freely in CF.
- The K.C Bullpen: Not too sure if you were aware of this or not, but the Royals bullpen may have played a small role in their 2014 success. The power armed trio of closer, Greg Holland, and setup men, Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera, combined for a 1.27 ERA over 204 innings pitched and helped the Royals to a MLB best 65-4 record when leading after six innings. Behind those three, the Royals have a duo of righties, Jason Frasor and Luke Hochevar, and a lefty, Brian Flynn, who was brought over from the Marlins and will replace the injured Tim Collins (Tommy John). Meanwhile, postseason revelation, Brandon Finnegan, is slated to open the season AAA Omaha, as he gets stretched out to start. The K.C bullpen is SO deep that there was talk in the offseason that the Royals were entertaining offers on Holland, who had just won the Mariano Rivera Award for being the best reliever in MLB.
- Thievery on the base paths: 153 stolen bases led the MLB
- The low risk/high reward signing of SP Kris Medlen (2 yrs/$8.5 mil) which, if healthy, could be an ABSOLUTE steal of a deal.
- Yordano Ventura’s Pedro-esque arsenal.
- Kauffman Stadium’s waterfalls.
- Kansas City BBQ over the other main types of BBQ (Texas, Memphis and North Carolina).
What We Hate:
- Odds of Replicating 2014 Success: Anyone who predicted the run the Royals had in 2014 is either a prophet, or a liar. The Royals came out of (seemingly) nowhere last season to make both the playoffs and the World Series; ending their 29 year old playoff drought in the process. Unfortunately for the Royals, while other teams in the AL Central went out and added depth to their roster, the Royals were more concerned in replacing the pieces they had lost. Gone from the 2014 AL Pennant winners are the likes of SP “Mediocre Game” James Shields, OF Nori Aoki and DH Billy “Country Breakfast” Butler. Replacing them will be a trio of free agent signed in the offseason: SP Edinson Volquez, DH Kendrys Morales and OF Alex Rios. Those additions, while decent replacements for the departed, are a slight downgrade and come with more question marks. Can Volquez make the transition from NL to AL? How many at bats will the oft-injured Morales get? And, which Alex Rios did the Royals get? The biggest issue for the Royals though this season will be just competing in, what could be, a very tough AL Central.
- Not a whole lot of power in the lineup. Additions of Alex Rios and Kendrys Morales won’t be huge difference makers in a lineup that hit an MLB low 95 HR in 2014.
- Lack of catching depth (Erik Kratz and Francisco Pena) could result in an eventual breakdown of Sal Perez.
- Ability to draw walks – lead the MLB in fewest walks (380) in 2014.
- Waiting for Mike Moustakas to (ever) have a breakout season.
Player to Watch: SP Danny Duffy. The Royals have been waiting for Duffy to enjoy a breakthrough season since he made 20 starts for them in 2011. Unfortunately for Duffy and the Royals, the left hander has been plagued with durability issues. He was sidetracked by Tommy John surgery in 2012 and struggled with oblique and shoulder injuries down the stretch last season. If he remains healthy though, you can expect Duffy to build on an impressive 2014 that saw him make 25 starts, post a 9-12 record with a 2.53 ERA and strikeout 113 batters over 149.1 innings. A double digit win total is definitely in the cards for 2015, especially with the Royals looking to increase his workload to the 180-200 inning mark.
Top Pitching Prospect: Sean Manaea · LHP · MLB ETA: 2016
Top Positional Prospect: Raul Adalberto Mondesi · SS · MLB ETA: 2017
Top 30 Prospects (MLB.com): http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2015?list=kc
Final Prediction: 4th AL Central