2014 Record – 89-73, 2nd AL Central
Edinson Volquez, Alex Rios, Kendrys Morales
James Shields, Nori Aoki, Billy Butler
Projected 2015 Lineup
- SS Alcides Escobar
- LF Alex Gordon
- CF Lorenzo Cain
- 1B Eric Hosmer
- C Salvador Perez
- DH Kendrys Morales
- RF Alex Rios
- 3B Mike Moustakas
- 2B Omar Infante
Projected 2015 Starters
- Yordano Ventura
- Jason Vargas
- Jeremy Guthrie
- Edinson Volquez
- Danny Duffy
The lineup for the Kansas City Royals looks pretty decent to me. Not something that should be demonstrably better or worse than last year. The issue is the five starters. All are serviceable and several have quite a bit of upside (Venture and Duffy above all others). But, there is not a lot of high floors here. Ventura may tear through lineups for much of the season, but will he hold up to getting close to 200 innings and 32 starts? Will his size create an injury problem or cause him to have trouble with the level of his stuff when we get past the trade deadline?
The most interesting part will still be the way the Royals play. It isn’t always stat or odds favorable. It isn’t always optimal. But, damn it all if it isn’t exciting. I would love to see a team do the sort of balls to the wall tactics that the Royals used in their playoff run in October. If they keep sending runners in all situations and play the type of outfield defense we saw late last year, count me as a believer in their best case. This division, as stated in other previews, is wide open for a team to surprise. Would the Royals really shock people at this point?
X-Factor – Mike Moustakas
It seems that most of the Royals other members of the greatest farm system in history (may this serve as a warning Cubs and Twins fans) have started to round into form. Namely Eric Hosmer. Moustakas has continued to struggle. The skills are still there however. Moustakas will not be handed the keys to the kingdom much longer. If he can find a way to take the pressure off himself and the expectations, he could settle into a decent low-average, good power hitter at corner infield. The on-base simply has to climb above .300 and more. He was once rated the #7 prospect in baseball, let’s see if that pedigree can resurface. The
Most To Prove – Yordano Ventura
Ventura is arguably the X-Factor, Most to Prove, AND Why They’re Worth Watching key. I truly feel that this team will greatly hinge on the exploits of the young fireballer. He’s got the stuff, and I won’t belabor the point, but he needs to stay healthy and productive. There isn’t another potential “ace”1 on this roster and Ventura needs to help replace the consistent contributions of James Shields. Ventura may have more upside than Shields, but his consistency of contribution made for a much less heartburn enducing watching experience.
2015 Impact Prospect – Brandon Finnegan – LHP
We already saw in October what this guy can do on the mound. The question now becomes do they keep him in the reliever role that he excelled in at the majors or do they transition him back to a starter. All signs point to them trying him out as a starter to start the year. Finngean hasn’t shown durability at any level so far and profiles as a reliever through and through. But, going for gold by trying him as a starter is th eright thing to do. If the Royals find themselves in the hunt for the division or a wild card spot, expect to see Finnegan jump back to the majors in his familiar role.
Why They’re Worth Watching
Come on, they just made a miraculous run to the World Series in one of the more exciting playoffs in a while. Their run-and-gun style goes against everything sabermetrics believes and they are zigging when everyone else is zagging. I can’t wait to see if they can find a way to keep it going. I don’t think the odds are good, but I’m interested.
Defense and steals. Baseball Prospectus has their projected Fielding Runs Above Average (FRAA) at 32.5, that’s a good amount higher than the rest and the closest is the Rays, and those two are in a class of their own. 88-74
There still isn’t a lot of power on this roster, but that’s not a surprise. If they get caught stealing a lot then their offense will stall and no amount of success without James Shields will help them; so much chance for variance. 71-91
Projected Record – 84-78
I use that term lightly here ↩