What is in store for the Royals in 2012? Well, here are 10 predictions I’m making while trying to remain a realist and not an overly optimistic fan.
10. Mike Montgomery Makes His MLB Debut in July
For better or worse, I think this is inevitable. Personally, I think Monty needs another full season of AAA, but I don’t make the decisions. Maybe I’m wrong and Mike Montgomery will dominate AAA and make a smooth transition to the bigs, but much like Danny Duffy last year, I think he moves up early and struggles. I didn’t think Duffy was quite ready and his results bore that out last year.
9. Wil Myers Rebounds
With a stellar fall in the rearview mirror, I predict Wil Myers will tear up AA pitching and earn a midseason promotion to AAA. What he does there is anyone’s guess. He could continue and blow through AAA and be making his MLB debut in September, but I’m not thinking that. I’d be more inclined to say he will start next season at AAA and force his promotion sometime in 2013 much like Hosmer did in 2011.
8. Bubba Makes an Impact
I’m going to go out and predict that Bubba Starling will make a big impact in the minors, making his way to high A ball this season. The Royals may suddenly realize his timetable might be a little quicker than originally planned. Sorry, Lorenzo Cain, no extension for you. The Bubba show starts in 2015, set your DVRs!
7. Luke Hochevar and Jonathan Sanchez, Kings of Inconsistency
This is the year. This is the year we finally start to see the real Luke Hochevar on a more consistent basis. He will lead the team with 14 wins and be the most consistent pitcher on the staff. Sanchez on the other hand, will lead the team in strikeouts. He will also have at least five starts where fans will wonder what the Giants were thinking and at least five where we see exactly what they were thinking.
6. Greg Holland, Closer of the Future?
My prediction is that Greg Holland, not Jonathan Broxton, will lead the team in saves. Although I’m of the personal opinion that Kelvin Herrera, Luis Coleman or Aaron Crow actually have better closer “stuff” I think the ball will be Holland’s more often than not. I also don’t think Yost commits to any one guy in that role all year long. Broxton may get it early as the team works to maximize his trade value at the deadline, but in the end, it’s Holland’s job to lose heading into 2013.
5. Lorenzo Cain, an improvement over Melky Cabrera
I’m not basing this on Lorenzo Cain’s torrid spring. Just a gut feeling that the Royals won’t miss Melky Cabrera’s bat as much as you might think. I’m projecting Cain for 50 XBH to go along with a .730 OPS, that and a big defensive upgrade will exceed Cabrera in value from last season (2.9 WAR). He is going to play himself into being a big tradeable chip by the time Bubba comes around.
4. The Royals, Offensive Force?
That’s right, the Royals. Yes, those Royals. The same ones that were third in the league in hits, sixth in XBH, sixth in runs scored, second in doubles and first in triples. The Royals will meet or beat most of those stats this year. The true question will be if it will translate into more runs? How do they do this? Well, that is a bigger question, more than worthy of its own post. Stay tuned to Crown Crazed for that.
3. Billy Butler begins to blossom as a Power Hitter
Yes, that is my story and I’m sticking to it. My projection for Billy Butler is .285/.370/.490 with 25 HR and 105 RBI. A quick look shows Butler has gotten between 672 and 678 plate appearances over the last three years. 2011 was his worst year in terms of AVG, SLUG and OPS. I think most of that is attributed to big stride Butler took in getting the ball in the air last year. After his first four years, his Ground Ball to Fly Ball ratio hovered between .97 and .93 (league AVG is .80). Last year, it plummeted to .84. That is a pretty large improvement and explains the dip in AVG as the fly balls tend to lead to more outs. His HR to FB ratio was 7.5% last year, right in line with league averages, although below his year of 2009 when it was 8.8% and he hit 21 HR’s. So with the increase in fly balls and a slight uptick in HR/FB ratio, Butler will be a 25 HR guy for the first time.
2. The Royals will have multiple representatives at the All-Star Game
Say What???? Since 1990, the Royals have had multiple representatives only twice. In 2003, Mike MacDougal and Mike Sweeney repped the Royals. In 2000, it was Sweeney and Jermaine Dye. Past that, you have to go back to 1989 with Mark Gubicza and Bo Jackson (he was MVP if you remember, I know I do). My best guess? I’ll say Alex Gordon and Billy Butler. Don’t screw me over here Ron Washington!
1. The Royals will win just 77 games
Sorry to end on a downer, but this is where I peg the team for this year. The injury to Salvador Perez was more damaging than the Soria injury, IMO. I just don’t see this team hitting their stride collectively until after the ASB, when they will play +.500 ball the rest of the way. Of all the predictions, let’s hope I’m wrong (in a good way) about this one.
Added Bonus: My full Predictions for MLB
Standings, in order
AL WEST: Rangers, Angels, Mariners, Athletics
AL CENTRAL: Tigers, Indians, White Sox, Royals, Twins
AL EAST: Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Orioles
WILD CARDS: Rays and Red Sox
AL CHAMPION: Tigers over Yankees
AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
AL CY YOUNG: Felix Hernandez, Mariners
AL ROY: Matt Moore, Rays
NL WEST: Giants, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Padres, Dodgers
NL CENTRAL: Reds, Brewers, Cardinals, Pirates, Cubs, Astros
NL EAST: Nationals, Braves, Marlins, Phillies, Mets
WILD CARDS: Braves and Diamondbacks
NL CHAMPIONSHIP: Reds over Giants
NL MVP: Melky Cabrera… ha. Just Kidding. Joey Votto, Reds (sorry, I don’t think MVP’s come from last place teams Mr. Kemp)
NL CY YOUNG: Tim Lincecum, Giants
NL ROY: God I hope it’s not Bryce Harper, Nationals, but it probably will be.
WORLD SERIES: Tigers over Reds in SIX.