Branches-Limbs-Twigs season predictions for the Royals
APRIL 2017 – Each year I jump out and release my annual BLT (branches-limbs-twigs) predictions for the Kansas City Royals.
The past two years have been somewhat easier to guess since positions were set and contract statuses were not a concern.
Heading into the 2017 season, most of us feel like we are in a holding pattern until we know where the Royals stand in the playoff hunt in 2017. “Should they stay or should they go” will be chatted about on the airways and at work as everyone plays general manager during the season.
Should we be all in or ask for a new deck of cards to be shuffled and dealt for the upcoming seasons? Either way, here is how I feel 2017 plays out in my BLT predictions.
- At least two of the four amigos will be traded. Of course I’m talking about Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer. No matter where they are at in the standings, KC will move at least two of them. However, we still can acquire players that can contribute now, plus the future. But if the Royals look like a team capable of making a deep playoff run at the July 31st trading deadline, they may opt to hold onto them all and see if another parade is in the cards.
- The Royals will hit more homers and steal fewer bases than in 2016. Last year KC clubbed 147 homers and swiped 121 bases. This pick is pretty easy with the departure of speedy Jarrod Dyson traded to Seattle and the acquisition of power-hitters Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss. We might not finish last in the American League in home runs this year.
- The Royals will not win the AL Central — the Indians will. Kansas City and Detroit might contend, but Cleveland looks too strong not to win the division over a 162-game schedule.
- Dayton Moore’s hair will turn grayer this year. He definitely has to have the toughest decisions for a GM this year. Many decisions will be questioned and doubted, but there is no way to make everyone happy. In Dayton we must trust this year and beyond.
- Royals win more than the Vegas Line. I’ve seen 79.5 – 80.5 as the over-under line for the win total. Once again, I’m taking the over. Even if we trade the whole lot, we have decent replacements awaiting their opportunity to contribute.
- Joakim Soria will have a better year than 2016. He has a short time to earn back the trust of KC fans. His 4.05 ERA and one save did him no favors and neither did manager Ned Yost. But I look for a better year for him in 2017.
- Jason Hammel will be the ace. His 15-10 mark with a 3.83 era was nice last year and I see much of the same. In Kennedy and Danny Duffy will be close by, but I’m still not 100 percent convinced they both stay consistent this season. I like our staff and I hope Jason Vargas returns to his old form. I just feel Hammel paves the way as the top Royals pitcher.
- The Royals finish third in the AL Central. This means the Tigers also end up ahead of KC. It’s a tough division and we just have too many question marks.
- Lorenzo Cain will be the first to be traded. He might be the most expendable with the Royals outfield logjam and DH. This, of course, will be if he stays healthy. If not, I look at Moose as a strong candidate to go early as well. Hosmer has to go to a team that needs a rent-a-player at first base. It may be tougher than we think to deal Hosmer this year with the kind of returns Moore would be seeking.
- Raul Mondesi will shine at second base. Raul has had a nice spring and I see Ned sticking with him there. We know the potential is there and KC has been waiting a long time to have a second base solid option. I foresee Raul making this happen in 2017.
- Hunter Dozier will be the first everyday player called up. He’s 25 and batted .296 with 23 home runs and 75 RBIs in the minors last year. Dozier had a solid spring and his time is soon. He can play outfield, third base or first base and the Royals need to get him ready for prime time. He’s too good to stay in Omaha all of this season.
- Soler will not be everyday player this year. This trade may be the one we look back at and ask why. Deep down I don’t mind it since I feel that Wade Davis was fading a bit last year. Soler may end up at some time in Omaha this season or platooning with Moss. I hope I’m wrong on this one.
- We finish with 82 to 83 wins this year, but short of the playoffs again.
Well that’s it. Who knows if the contract-year players perform at their highest level and give the Royals a chance. But once Dyson and Davis were traded before the season, it alerted me that we may not have that all in mindset out of the gate. Time will tell.
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Article by James Peuster