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A little late, but how about a Royals preview!
Posted By Joe Coburn On Apr 9 2009 @ 9:53 pm In Kansas City Royals | 1 Comment
I'm an idiot, so it only took me 3 days to get this thing up here. The name of the blog may change as well, depending on the reaction from the royalty.
Just what, exactly, are the Kansas City Royals going to be this year? Do they grow up this year, or will they once again struggle to score runs? The 2008 club finished 3rd from the bottom in runs scored, averaging just over 4 a game. As a team their power numbers were low across the board, and they failed to produce a single 100 RBI player. The .269 team bating average wasn’t bad, but they finished dead last in walks drawn, over 250 behind the AL leading Red Sox. Contrast the dismal 08’ power numbers with returns from this spring. A Royal is in the top 5 in almost every major offensive category. Mike Jacobs and Alex Gordon each hit 7 homeruns. Coco Crisp hit .395 and scored 17 runs in 27 games. Mark Teahen’s transition to 2B did not affect his hitting at all, slugging .883 with 53 total bases in 19 games. It’s more than reasonable to assume that they’re going to hit better in 09’. Of course, we’re talking about spring training stats.
Even a dramatic improvement in offensive production doesn’t guarantee a better record. The 08’ Royals did win 75 games and most of that was due to a surprisingly solid performance by the pitching staff. The team stats put them in the middle of the road, but there were some individual performances that should have fans excited. Zack Greinke and Gil Meche made for a solid 1-2, both with sub 4 ERA’s, WHIPs around 1.3 and close to 200 K’s a piece.
Many people seem to love Kyle Davies’ chances of improving on his 9 wins last season, and taking a flyer on Horacio Ramirez as the #5 is worth the risk. I wouldn’t have much confidence in Sidney Ponson, and I’d be shocked if he’s in the rotation all year. I'm not in love with Davies either.Joakim Soria proved his viability as the closer last year, but adding Kyle Farnsworth and Juan Cruz to the bullpen will provide fans with plenty of anxious moments; lots of strikeouts, walks, and a few spectacular meltdowns.
In all it won’t be the pitching that holds the Royals back, or propels them forward, in the AL central this year.
Any run towards the division will come down to the bats. Can David DeJesus and Crisp set the table? Does Alex Gordon make the leap this year? No matter in what order they hit, can Billy Butler, Jose Guillen, Mike Jacobs and Mark Teahen drive in upwards of 350 runs combined? Can Mike Aviles repeat his 08’ performance? How ever the playing time is distributed can the catchers contribute?
There are certain realities that KC fans need to face.
The 1st is that there is no room for a major injury in the rotation. Greinke or Meche going down for any significant time will derail any playoff hopes. However, the same could be said for half the teams in baseball.
The 2nd is that the division will be better than last year. Both the Indians and the Tigers are candidates for bouncing back, and the Twins are returning a team that finished just short of 90 wins. The Sox had major turnover, but still figure to be strong.
What the Royals do have is a potentially excellent lineup. They hit from both sides of the plate. Crisp brings speed no matter where he hits and great range in center. Jacobs adds much needed pop to the middle. There is a chance that this team could score 800 runs and, with a pitching performance similar to last year’s, a chance at some October baseball. Things will have to break just right, but with 12 of their first 18 against teams in the division we should have a pretty good idea how these Royals match up by the end of April.
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