The Royals had a magical postseason run last fall thanks to some excellent relief pitching and great defense. Both of those features will still be around for the 2015 version, but I just can’t see the starting pitching being good enough to get them into the playoffs in the first place.
If you look at the position player side of the roster, they swapped out Aoki for Rios and Butler for Morales among the starters. I’m not sure if that winds up being an upgrade or a downgrade, but in general, I think we should be in for a pretty similar overall performance. They have a great defensive team and a collection of hitters who are flawed, but I also don’t expect to see their flaws further exposed this year relative to last year. There won’t be a ton of power, but you can win without that power if you do other things right.
The relief pitching will be one of those things, even if their best guys don’t have the amazing seasons they did a year ago. If you took Holland and Davis out of this pen, I think it’s probably better than what the Tigers have, and of course, they have both of those guys.
The problem with this team is that they were short on starting pitching last year and don’t have Shields anymore. They have plenty of guys you like as #4 or #5 starters, but Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy are the only ones with any kind of ceiling, and they’re probably not going to be able to carry a playoff caliber rotation. I loved the Kris Medlen signing, but coming off Tommy John surgery, I doubt he’ll be able to offer top end performance.
The Royals can succeed, of course, but it’s contingent on big seasons from Ventura, Duffy, and a couple of unlikely offensive jumps. I’m not betting on all of those lining up. The Royals won’t embarrass, but getting above 85 wins seems like a stretch despite their dramatic exploits a season ago.
- Hitter to Watch: Alex Gordon
- Pitcher to Watch: Wade Davis
- NED Projected Record: 82-80, 3rd in the AL Central
- Big Moment: Gordon, Dyson, and Cain break StatCast
- Piece of Data: 46 DRS, 59.8 UZR in 2014 by Royals OF, best in baseball