No surprises…expect another big season for the KC Royals

KC Royals

APRIL 2016 – Nostradamus I may not be. I’ll admit that.  When it comes to predicting what may happen after 162 games of the Major League Baseball season, nobody is perfect.  Looking back at the past few years I’ve missed the KC Royals victory total by either one or more than eight.

When forecasting who will have an up year or a down year, it’s about sixty percent.  Deciding what team will win the division and so on is another saga.

KC Royals general manager Dayton Moore and manager Ned Yost have certainly made baseball more interesting and relevant in the Kansas City area.

Many times we question Moore’s offseason moves and Ned’s on-field decisions. Yet, the Royals have appeared in back-to-back World Series.  I think most of the Royals’ fans and players knew 2015 was going to be the year.  It started on opening day and never looked back.  But what about 2016?

Well, it’s time for my annual BLT –  branches, limbs and twigs –  predictions.   Branches are more solid than most forecasting.  Everyone goes out on a limb once in a while, but I take it a step further-the twig.  Last year I did pretty good. Let’s see what my crystal ball comes up with for the upcoming season. Don’t spread this article in the bottom of the bird cage, but save it until October, holding me accountable.

BRANCHES:

  1. Ned Yost will still drive us all crazy; he always does.  I recently heard a local station mock the “LEADER” billboard with Ned’s picture on it.  However, if he is so bad, how did we get to two consecutive World Series?  He is no longer a candidate to be fired, but has the players are fired up.  I stopped questioning his moves last year, even though I still scratched my head. He lets the players play, which is good enough for me.
  2. More than one of our offseason moves will contribute in a big way.  Moore should have gotten GM of the year the past two years.  Kendrys Morales, Chris Young, Ryan Madson etc were big “huh’s” when we got them, yet where would we be without them last year.  Even a healthy Alex Rios got in the swing of things against Toronto in the postseason. Ian Kennedy is the big dollar signing, but look for someone else to rise above their potential or hit above their previous peak and play a large role.
  3. The KC Royals will not improve on last season.  How can they?  95 regular season victories were solid and winning the World Series was the pinnacle.  I’m not saying they will drop out of contention by the All-Star break. I’m just saying the win total may drop a few. How far? Stay tuned for my win total under twigs.
  4. Omar Infante will improve on his two HRs, .220 batting average from last year.  Well, he better if he wants to keep his starting job. Similar to my Mike Moustakas prediction last year of having a better season.  Infante was hurt, slumping and replaced by Ben Zobrist at the end of the year.  I know he isn’t getting any younger, but he does average nine HRs, 59 RBIs and a career .272 average.  Look for Infante to improve and make us forget about 2015.

LIMBS:

  1. Eric Hosmer will have his best year. Hos is going to be 26 this year and I see him surpassing 20 HRs and 100 RBIs with a .300 batting average.  Yes, this was my prediction last year and he fell a bit short on all three.  This could be a twig for some, but I truly believe this will be his finest year.
  2. Yordano Ventura will have an ERA lower than four and have 15 or more wins.  A mighty bold limb here as well, but I believe last year was a sophomore slump. He was 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 2014.  This year will be close to the same.
  3. Kennedy will have a solid year too.  Many local and national reporters questioned the signing of Kennedy. He didn’t fare well in San Diego. I know he won’t be 21-4 like 2011, but he does have a career 3.98 ERA and averages 189 K’s for a full 162 game season.  Look for him to fit in at the K and be better than last year. He may even surpass 200 K’s.
  4. The KC Royals will win the AL Central division.  Some say this should be a branch, but nothing is guaranteed.  We are the favorite to represent in the World Series by some, and I see the momentum of last year carrying over in our division.  I think it will take 86 or more wins to get this done; no problem for KC.

TWIGS

  1. Joakim Soria will be saving games this year.  Someway he gets in the tail end of games throughout his career.  Whether KC, Texas or Detroit – he just does. Kelvin Herrera may be in line, but Soria has the experience.  Wade Davis is phenomenal as the closer. However, we know more than 40 percent of the opening day closers are not in that position at the end of the year.  I hope I’m wrong here, but it could happen.  Stay healthy my friend!
  2. Mike Moustakas will have the down year.  Last year I said it would be Salvador Perez and although his average dipped, he did have a solid year.  Moose won’t hit.284 and I see him dipping slightly in HRs.  Again, I hope I’m incorrect here.
  3. The KC Royals will make another big season move in July and it might be for a right fielder.  Imagine if Toronto struggles and trade Jose Bautista to KC?  I wonder how his bat flips will go over in KC after those monster home runs. Ok, I don’t think that will happen, but I see that we still have a lot of talent and RF could be the position we need to upgrade.
  4. The KC Royals will win 92 games this year.  That is down three from 2015 and five more than the Vegas over-under line. I’ve been close before but missed it by a bit last year. For this to count, I ask for a one-game variance either way.  That should be more than enough to win this division.

Well, there you go. I didn’t go any further than the 162 regular season games.  The fan in me believes the Royals will go far in the postseason.  The reporter in me feels the same way.  We may not have the best players, but we do have the best team in the majors. Throw in the 800,000 fans that showed up last year for the parade celebration, and you’ve got a winning combination.

See you at the K!

Article by James Peuster. Visit his website at http://www.jpegsports.com

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