Central Intelligence: Rebuilding Royals
Image courtesy of Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY SportsOther American League Previews
AL West: Houston, We Don’t Have a Problem
AL East: New York State of Mind
Central Intelligence: Clawless Tigers
Key Additions: Billy Hamilton, Chris Owings, Brad Boxberger, Homer Bailey
Billy Hamilton fits nicely with Ned Yost’s style. He can play great defense and he’s one of the best base-stealers in the game. Having Hamliton in the same division as Byron Buxton means baseball’s two fastest players will see each other multiple times this season.
Chris Owings was once a top prospect in Arizona but he’s hoping to find himself in a new city. Brad Boxberger should get some key outs in late innings. He should split closing duties with Wily Peralta. Homer Bailey could slide into the back of the rotation, but Kansas City might want to see what they have in some younger arms.
Key Departures: Mike Moustakas, Lucas Duda, Alcides Escobar, Jason Hammel
Mike Moustakas was one of the key pieces of the 2015 World Series Championship. The Moose was the second overall pick in 2007 and he made two All-Star Games with the club. Another key piece, Salvador Perez, will miss the season after having Tommy John surgery. His leadership on the field will be greatly missed this season.
Alcides Escobar had been a regular starter in KC since 2011. Last year his OPS was almost 40 points lower than his career average. Lucas Duda was traded away at last year’s trade deadline and he ended up in camp with the Twins this spring. Jason Hammel struggled through two seasons in KC. His ERA was almost 5.60 in over 300 innings.
Potential X-Factor: Whit Merrifield
Kansas City locked up their 30-year-old second baseman to a four-year, $16.5 million contract this off-season. He has led the AL in steals in each of the last two seasons. His 192 hits were tops in the AL last year. He ranked in the AL’s top-10 for WAR last season, which put him higher than Jose Altuve and Giancarlo Stanton. Merrifield might not make the top-5 but he could move up that list with improvements this season.
Could Merrifield take over the leadership role left vacated by Perez? Or will the Royals need other pieces to take the next step?
FanGraphs Projected 2019 Record: 68-94
My Projected 2019 Record: 67-95
2018 Record: 58-104, (5th Place in the AL Central)
2017 Record: 80-82 (3rd Place in the AL Central)
2016 Record: 81-81 (3rd Place in the AL Central)
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