Kansas City Royals 2012 Preview

Projected Record: 74-88

Player WAR Player WAR
C Salvador Perez 2.4 SP1 Luke Hochevar 2
1B Eric Hosmer 3.4 SP2 Jonathon Sanchez 1.9
2B Johnny Giovatella 0.9 SP3 Bruce Chen 1.1
SS Alcides Escobar 2.1 SP4 Aaron Crow 1.8
3B Mike Moustakas 2.1 SP5 Felipe Paulino 2
LF Alex Gordon 5 CP Joakim Soria 1.6
CF Lorenzo Cain 2 RP Jonathon Broxton 0.9
RF Jeff Francoeur 1.4 RP Greg Holland 1.3
DH Billy Butler 2.4 RP Blake Wood 0.6
Bench Brayan Pena 0.3 RP Tim Collins 0.4
Bench Yuniesky Betancourt 0.4 RP Louis Coleman 0.3
Bench Chris Getz 0.5 RP Jose Mijares 0.2
Bench Mitch Maier 0.3 Danny Duffy 0.3
Bench Jarrod Dyson 0.4
23.6 14.4

The Royals have a lot of young talent both in the majors and in the minors, but they’re likely still a year or two away from reaping the benefits of that talent and turning it into a competitive team. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas should both make strides in 2012, while Salvador Perez, Johnny Giovatella and Lorenzo Cain will all see their first extended time in the majors. Kansas City’s rotation is their big weakness, and they’ll need to have a few guys to step-up, or make some big changes in order to compete.

Eric Hosmer put up fairly impressive numbers as a 21 year old rookie last season, and should improve on that performance this season. Moustakas’ numbers on the other hand were a bit underwhelming last year, although he did improve as the season went on. I don’t think he’ll put up as good of numbers as Hosmer in 2012, but his offense should get substantially better. The two of them will play a very big role in determining whether the Royals can be competitive in 2013 and beyond. Giovatella figures to get the majority of playing time at second, where they played Chris Getz for more than half of their games in 2011. Giovatella put up really good numbers in the minors the last two years, but he’s highly unlikely to be anything better than average this year. Alcides Escobar returns for his second season as SS with the Royals, and while he’s not good with the bat, his defense is good enough to make him average at the position. Salvador Perez hit for a crazy average late last season, and won’t repeat that performance, but if he can provide average defense, his bat is good enough to make him valuable.

Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Jeff Francoeur will start in the outfield after the offseason trade of Melky Cabrera. Gordon is perhaps unlikely to repeat his 6 win performance, but as a 28 year old he could very well still be worth 5 WAR. Lorenzo Cain gets the opportunity to start in center this year, and his minor league numbers show that he could be average or better there. Francoeur on the other hand is a bit of a wildcard in right. He was worth 3 wins last year, but that’s the first time he’s been worth more than 0.6 wins since 2007 with the Braves. If I had to guess, I’d say a return to his underwhelming offense with an OBP hovering around .300. Billy Butler, the starting DH, had a decrease in production last year compared to the prior 2 years, and just doesn’t hit for enough power to be much more than average at a position where only offense counts. He’ll still just be 26 this year, but has only topped 20 homers once. The Royals’ have a bit of depth up the middle with Getz and Yuni Betancourt, along with Brayan Pena at catcher as well as Mitch Maier in the outfield.

Luke Hochevar is the de-facto ace of the rotation, despite being about league average in his career. His peripherals suggest a better performance, but he’s posted a higher ERA than his FIP every year of his career, which typically means he’s unlikely to suddenly reverse that trend. Newly acquired Jonathan Sanchez has struck out more than a batter/inning over the last 3 years, but he misses the plate too much to really capitalize on that. He had a down year last year, and I find it hard to imagine him being above average this year, especially when moving from the NL West to the AL. Bruce Chen will hold down the fort in the #3 slot, and what is there to say about him? He’s Bruce Chen. Aaron Crow and Felipe Paulino figure to be the 4 and 5, although Crow may not end up sticking, after impressing in the pen in his rookie year. The Royals may end up keeping him in the bullpen, where he posted a K/9 of 9.44, although he also walked 4.5/9. Paulino pitched pretty well last year after he came to the Royals and moved to the rotation, so he could be decent as the team’s 4/5.

Joakim Soria and Greg Holland anchor the bullpen, with Soria likely to improve a bit this year, and Holland likely to regress. Broxton’s performance is a question, but if he’s able to pitch effectively that could enable the Royals to trade Soria at the deadline. Blake Wood, Tim Collins, and Louis Coleman all pitched not half bad in 2011, and combined, the Royals have a pretty solid pen going into 2012.

Offseason Acquisitions: Yuniesky Betancourt, Jonathan Sanchez, Jonathon Broxton, Jose Mijares

Offseason Losses: Melky Cabrera, Robinson Tejada, Jeff Francis

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