Spring is here…pitchers and catchers are there…and predictions are everywhere. It’s time to predict how well the Royals young talent will do in a down AL Central Division. Ned Yost was asked by Steven St John this week how he expected the Royals to do. His answer was he is no fortune teller. Neither am I. But I can study history and that says the Royals will have a tough time being the .500 team many expect.
To get to .500 the Royals will have to improve by 10 games from last year’s 71 win total. In all of baseball over the last 5 years only 24 teams have done that….an average of 6 per year….or about 1 per division. Considering the Tigers won 95 last year a 10 game improvement is unlikely from them and the White Sox, Indians and Twins are all expected to be bad. Doesn’t sound like the recipe for a 10 win improvement. The Royals seem to be the candidate for a 10 game improvement in the Central…if there is one.
It gets harder though. The Royals are trying to improve for the 3rd straight season. They went from 65 to 67 wins in 2010 and to 71 wins last year. Across baseball since 2007 only four teams have improved their win total over three straight years. Those teams were the Cincinnati Reds, Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies. In fact, the Phillies and Rangers have improved all four years. With 162 games leading to injuries, and free agency so prevalent, it is hard in baseball to constantly improve. Most every team has ups and downs. The Royals are trying to buck that trend by continuing to trend up.
One more caveat. The Royals are trying not only to improve for a third straight year…but improve significantly. They will need a 10 game jump to get to .500 after already improving their win totals each of the last two years. That’s only happened once in the last 5 years…by those Reds. There is hope in that the Reds were that team who pulled it off. The Reds did so by getting large improvements from young position players like Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. The Royals could see similar jumps from Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. They also got a break out performance from Drew Stubbs. Lorenzo Cain anyone?
Another thing the Reds got that season was help from pitchers out of the minors like Mike Leake and Travis Wood. For the Royals to make a similar jump the starting pitching has to improve. Not just improvements from Luke Hochevar, but an early contribution from Danny Duffy and maybe even Mike Montgomery. The 10 win improvement is possible for this Royals team but by no means is it easy. Even a four or five win improvement in this situation is rare in baseball so fans should embrace any growth from the boys in blue this summer.
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