Over the course of 30 days (or so) I will be previewing all 30 MLB teams, followed by an overall season prediction post, leading up to the start of the 2015 season. This post is previewing the Kansas City Royals.
In 2014, the Royals made the playoffs for the first time since 1985 and even made it all the way to the World Series. Much of the offense returns from last season, with DH Kendrys Morales replacing Billy Butler at the position, as the team looks to make a second-straight postseason appearance. In the starting rotation, though, SP James Shields is gone with SP Edinson Volquez taking his spot on the staff. That is a downgrade, but the question is how big of a downgrade will it be.
Looking at last year’s offensive numbers, the Royals had a high batting average — at .263, the second-highest in the American League — but not a lot of power to go along with it. The team ranked in the bottom half of the league with a .690 OPS and was worst with 95 home runs, the only team in the AL with fewer than 100 homers. In terms of pitching, In terms of pitching, the staff ranked fourth in the AL with a 3.51 ERA, helped in part by Shields’ 3.21 ERA.
Coming up this season, it’s hard to say what kind of production Morales will give his new team. His career average is .271, but he hit just .234 in 2013 and .218 last season. If that downward trend continues, that’ll obviously hurt the team’s average. With the lack of power hitters, the team needs all the base runners it can get. The pitching also has question marks due to the loss of Shields and addition of Volquez, who has a 4.44 career ERA, although last season’s 3.04 ERA was the best of his career.
With some of the changes the Tigers have made to their roster this winter, the door may be open for another team to get to the top of the AL Central. The Royals could be the team to take advantage of that opening if things go in their favor. It should be a tough battle for the top spot in the AL Central this season.