Thursday, April 26, 2012

Francoeur Continues To Struggle, Yost Continues To Look The Other Way

Ned Yost's handling of Jeff Francoeur right now is one transgression I can't forgive. Yost appears to be seemingly unaware that Francoeur is lost at the plate, and has been for a couple weeks. But today, for the 16th time this year, he'll be batting fifth, creating a rally killing hole in the middle of the lineup. Since April 14th Francoeur has hit just .152/.188/.217 in 48 plate appearances. For the season he's at .225/.267/.296 with zero home runs and only 2 runs batted in. Now we all know RBI is a flawed stat, but flawed or not, that number is awfully low for a #5 hitter 18 games into the season. 

Of the eleven Royals with 20+ plate appearances Francoeur is 11th in OPS+, 10th in RBI's, 10th in batting average, 11th in on base percentage and 11th in slugging percentage. And oh yeah, he's tied with Butler for the most times grounding into a double play. Simply put, he's currently the worst hitter on the team, and he's still batting in the middle of the order.

Given Yost's proclivity to juggle the lineup it's amazing that he's failed to significantly drop Francoeur for even a few games. He did hit 6th once during the Toronto series and responded with 2 hits. That was enough to apparently convince Yost that his slump was over because he was immediately moved back to 5th where he's gone 2 for 14 since. His slow start is a bad omen for the rest of the season because historically April is his best month. I mean, if he's this unproductive now, how will he fare in May and June, his two worst months.

I've been hesitant to board the Fire Ned Yost bandwagon despite his counter-productive base running strategy and despite his insistence on playing for 1 run in the early parts of games. Not to mention he still is clueless on how to best employ his relief pitchers. But this Francoeur thing, man, it's pushing me into rage territory. What really irritates me is that Yost is insistent on Francoeur receiving more at bats than Mike Moustakas. Moose, as you know, is having a terrific season (9 extra base hits, 132 OPS+) and the highest he's hit in the order is 6th. And remember, he was actually benched a game earlier in the season. I get the whole left, right, left lineup thing. I also don't care. I'd like Francoeur to get a day or two off and then bat 8th until he comes out of his slump.  

Now that I've ranted this probably means Francoeur will get 4 hits and a home run today, and gosh, won't that just show me?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Teaching Moment Backfires

With right-handed hitting Brett Lawrie at the plate and a struggling Danny Duffy on the mound Ned Yost apparently felt it was time for another teaching moment. And oh yeah, the bases were loaded. Louis Coleman was ready in the bullpen but was not called upon despite the fact right-handers have hit just .182/.269/.357 against him in his career. Predictably the non-move backfired and Lawrie singled turning a 2-0 game into a 4-0 game. I get the teaching moment stuff, I really do. But there are times where it's not called for and this was one of those times. Duffy, over 100 pitches, was definitely not sharp. I mean, he almost threw a wild pitch intentionally walking Edwin Encarnacion. It appeared Duffy was openly criticizing the free pass, which if that's the case, you have to think that's a bad sign for Yost.

Also they've lost nine games in a row. Cancel class and win the game!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Production By Position - 2012 vs 2011

If I told you on the morning of April 6th that the rotation would allow three runs or less in nine of the first twelve games what would you have guessed their record would be? 7-5? 8-4? Based on what we thought we knew I think even the most jaded would have guessed at least a .500 record. But here they sit at 3-9, the second worst mark in baseball (thank you San Diego). The starting pitching, outside of the Cleveland series, has been a pleasant surprise but the offense and bullpen have laid waste to several good performances.

Here is how the team has fared since 2000 in games where a starting pitcher has allowed three runs or less:

2012: 3-6
2011: 54-38
2010: 55-26
2009: 54-34
2008: 66-32
2007: 58-34
2006: 38-38
2005: 41-36
2004: 46-33
2003: 63-29
2002: 47-43
2001: 50-27
2000: 47-20

A 3-6 record isn't really cause for concern but because it's early it'll get more attention than it should, simply because it's all we have to work with. I don't think they'll play under .500 all year in these situations. Last year they had a stretch where they went 3-12 (5/8-5/29) and a couple where they went 4-7 (6/15-7/10 and 8/5-8/24) so, yeah, I think this will more than even out.

So far everything we thought we knew has been wrong. We assumed the offense and bullpen would be fine and that second base and catcher would be offensive sinkholes, wrong (so far) on all four accounts. Let's look at how each position has fared compared to last season.

Catcher -

Losing Salvador Perez was huge but Humberto Quintero (.381/.462/.571) and Brayan Pena (.368/.400/.526) have been excellent at the plate thus far. Both are playing well above their heads in the early going, and it certainly won't last, but right now they are not a contributing factor in the team's inability to score runs.

First Base -
2012 .167 .259 .333 .593
2011 .272 .323 .442 .764

Eric Hosmer, however, is another story. Since leaving Anaheim, where he had 4 hits and 2 home runs, he's put up a .118/.250/.176 line. More than one person have compared Hosmer to Will Clark, due to similar rookie seasons and because they are both left-handed first baseman. Clark's sophomore year he hit .308/.371/.580 with 35 home runs, but included in those numbers was a 14 game stretch where he hit just  .175/.250/.275. Slumps happen, Hosmer will be fine.

Second Base -
2012 .311 .326 .444 .771
2011 .254 .301 .335 .636

The Getzancourt experiment has gone better than everybody not named Moore or Yost thought possible. Like catcher, this position hasn't been the problem. It's hard to be upset about the absence of Johnny Giavotella when his replacements have been this productive. I'll wager a healthy sum that they can't continue to put up a .771 OPS but until they revert back to their pre-2012 selves I'll ease up on criticizing Gio's demotion.

Third Base -

If you had the difference in slugging percentage between Mike Moustakas (.419) and Chris Getz (.417) at just two points then step forward and collect your prize. In 11 games Moose has struck out 10 times and has failed to draw a single walk. His walk rate is one reason why he's always been considered less a sure thing than Hosmer. At some point he's going to get a free pass, but the question is, when, and will there be fireworks?

Shortstop -

Alcides Escobar is getting on base at about the same clip as the rest of his career but the jump in slug is significant. He entered 2012 with a .339 slugging percentage but is at .400 in the early going. A .692 OPS with his defense will certainly play. Now whether he can continue at this pace is still in doubt but the talent is most assuredly there.

Left Field - 

A disappointing start to the season has some people worried about Alex Gordon but I have a strange feeling he's about to get hot. Like Hosmer, he's not going to hit like this all year. When those two get going the offense will improve tremendously.

Center Field - 
2012 .238 .292 .333 .625
2011 .301 .341 .462 .803

There's plenty of blame to go around in center as four different players have started a game there. Of those, Mitch Maier is the only one that has shown in inclination to actually hit. It doesn't help that Melky Cabrera is showing that last year may not have been a fluke as he's off to a terrific start (.314/.375/.471). We expected  this would be a position where offensive production would be down and it definitely has been. Maier should - and I expect will - play there everyday until Lorenzo Cain returns. Remember, Cain is no sure thing. He may be a defensive stud but he's yet to prove he can hit major league pitching.

Right Field -

Jeff Francoeur enjoyed a career revival last season but has thus been incapable of carrying it over. For his career April has been his most productive month so his early struggles could be a precursor to a season like 2008 when he hit .239/.294/.359 with a career low 72 OPS+.

Designated Hitter -
2012 .375 .400 .625 1.025
2011 .294 .365 .454 .819

Ned Yost has 99 problems but DH ain't one. Country Breakfast is on pace to accumulate 108 extra base hits. He is really locked in right now.

Rotation -
2012 4.41 1.43 3.9 6.7
2011 4.82 1.43 3.1 5.9

The Cleveland series really destroyed the rotation's numbers. Toss those three games in the trash where they belong and the group has a 2.91 ERA. My only quibble with the starters as a whole is they're not pitching enough innings and are taxing a struggling bullpen. Of course if Yost could bring himself to remember that he has a long reliever named Everett Teaford it would help. Teaford has appeared just once this year and pitched four scoreless innings. To put it another way, two weeks into the season and Teaford has the same amount of relief appearances as Maier.

Bullpen -
2012 4.26 1.35 3.0 10.2
2011 3.75 1.35 4.1 8.1

Yost's bullpen management has been a well documented problem most of his managerial career so it's no surprise that he made some questionable moves this year. But I'm here to help. Teaford, Ned, his name is Everett Teaford. Seriously though, this is a talented unit and I think they'll be fine. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Before spring training started I predicted the Royals win 82 games this year. I made many assumptions in coming up with this number but there are four in particular that I was dead wrong about.
  1. That Salvador Perez would catch 130+ games this year.
  2. That Felipe Paulino - and not Luis Mendoza - would begin the season in the rotation.
  3. That Johnny Giavotella would be the #2 hitter and starting second baseman.
  4. That Joakim Soria would be the closer and not suck.
The disabled list has claimed three of the players while Getzancourt blocked the other. But still, all is not lost. It's easy to dismiss the first ten games as "same old Royals" and assume they're on their way to another 90+ loss season. I can't fault anyone who feels that way. The Cleveland series was particularly distressing because it represented what the season as a whole would like in a worst case scenario. However, I'll go on record as saying that KC will not look that pathetic again this season.

If you're the optimistic sort, though, and are looking for anything to suggest that a 3-7 start isn't disastrous, then I have three examples you may be interested in, last year's Tigers, Rays and Red Sox.

Yr Tm W L R RA Rdiff Result
2011 Tigers 3 7 43 56 -13 95-67, AL Central Champion
2011 Rays 2 8 36 49 -13 91-71, Wild Card
2011 Red Sox 2 8 38 69 -31 90-72
2012 Royals 3 7 41 52 -11 ????

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Ned Yost's Perfect Lineup

After watching Jarrod Dyson make an out in four of his five plate appearances yesterday Ned Yost decided to give the speedster another go at the top of the lineup. Yost has again fallen prey to the oldest of myths, that a leadoff hitter's speed is more important than his ability to get on base. Yost's double dose of insanity got me thinking about what his all time perfect lineup would look like, you know, just for fun. It's another exercise in pointlessness but it gave me an excuse to spend some time on

  1. 1982 Omar Moreno CF - .242/.292/.315 60 steals
  2. 1990 Jay Bell SS - .254/.329/.362 39 sacrifice bunts
  3. 1992 Carney Lansford 3B - .262/.325/.369 Former batting champ (past = present)
  4. 1983 Tony Armas RF - .218/.254/.453 36 HR's 107 RBI's 
  5. 1972 Dave Kingman DH -.225/.303/.462 29 HR's 83 RBI's
  6. 1977 Lee Mazzilli - LF  .250/.340/.339 24 doubles, 22 steals
  7. 2004 Ken Harvey 1B - .287/.338/.421 All-Star
  8. 1983 Ned Yost C - .224/.243/.352 (Player-manager, duh!)
  9. 2011 Chris Getz 2B - .255/.313/..287 Mistake free.
According to the Baseball Musings Lineup Analysis tool the above lineup would score 3.77 runs per game, but there's speed at the top, so it's all good.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Classic Ned

For the second time this week Ned Yost is trotting out a lineup that is a real head scratcher. Mistaking speed for on base ability he has inserted Jarrod Dyson into the leadoff spot. Now granted he's not the first manager to do such a thing, and certainly won't be the last, but Kansas City already has a leadoff hitter, and a good one at that. Yost made one of the best decisions of managerial career last year when he moved Alex Gordon to leadoff. This year, A1 was mired in a five game slump but busted out of it Wednesday when he got on base three times and hit his first home run of the young season. Today, though, he will bat fifth, one spot in front of Yuniesky Betancourt. He likely won't see too many hittable pitches.

Here's the full lineup:
CF Jarrod Dyson
RF Jeff Francoeur
1B Eric Hosmer
DH Billy Butler
LF Alex Gordon
2B Yuniesky Betancourt
3B Mike Moustakas
C Humberto Quintero
SS Alcides Escobar

Francoeur is an odd choice to bat second but I really have no problem with it for two reasons. First, and as has been mentioned before, this team doesn't really have a prototypical #2 hitter. Johnny Giavotella was originally tagged for that spot, but remember, he was demoted during spring training when the Royals discovered he was below average defensively, Because apparently they didn't know before. The second reason I don't mind Francoeur hitting second is because of his reputation as Mr. April.

Read more here:
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As you can see he is his most productive the first month of the season and he's off to another good start this year batting .333/.391/.429 in 23 plate appearances. If you're wondering if he's ever hit second before, the answer is yes, twice actually, in a game he didn't start. He had a walk and a sacrifice fly. So there's that.

This lineup could work but it wouldn't make it any less nonsensical. Yost once hit Willie Bloomquist third and Spork responded by hitting a freaking game winning home run. But even though the end result was productive Bloomquist never hit third again, because it was an insane idea. I suspect if Dyson steals just one base today we'll see him at the top of the lineup until Lorenzo Cain comes off the disabled list. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Losing Ugly

I don't think it's exaggerating to describe the performance of the 2004-2006 Royals as a comedy of errors. Hilarity would often ensue as they would find one creative way after another to lose a game. Yesterday Ken Harvey and Chip Ambres were no doubt weeping with pride as Jonathan Broxton produced an outing that undoubtedly landed him a place on Joe Posnanski's wall of shame. Brought out to protect a one run lead Broxton struck out Daric Barton to begin the bottom of the 12th, and then, disaster struck. The rest of the inning looked like this: error, walk, walk, fielders choice (run), hit by pitch and hit by pitch (run, ballgame).

Alcides Escobar certainly deserves his share of the blame for the one out error but Broxton's failure to throw strikes is what cost them the game. Hopefully yesterday provided Ned Yost with a learning experience and he'll remove Broxton from the game should a similar situation arise.

The ugly loss marred an otherwise encouraging start to the season. They were two outs away from being 4-2 when they open at home tomorrow but instead limped back to KC at 3-3. Now it's hard to be disappointed in any .500 road trip, but when you consider how close they were, it easy to call the what might have beens what should have beens.

And really, you can make the argument that they should be 5-1. Yost's overreaction to Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon's slow starts was mocked in real time Monday when he trotted out a lineup that ultimately made Tom Milone look like a Cy Young contender. I'm not joking either, here's the starting nine with their career OPS+ in parenthesis.

Bourgeois (75)
Cain (93)
Hosmer (118)
Butler (120)
Francoeur (96)
Betancourt (82)
Pena (75)
Escobar (72)
Getz (68)

Unsurprisingly, they were shutout. Luis Mendoza was surprising, though, with a performance that straddled that fine line between lucky and good. In 5.2 innings he gave up 5 hits, 4 walks and 1 run while striking out just 2. While you can go all glass half full and focus on the 1 run it'd be wise to take a closer look at the other numbers because they come out to a 1.58 WHIP, 6.4 BB/9 and 3.2 SO/9. Trust me, he'll want to improve in those categories or his stint in the rotation will be over by the end of April.

The rotation did a solid job on the west coast posting a 1.85 ERA in the six games. However, they averaged less than 6 innings per start with Luke Hochevar the only one of the five to pitch into the 7th inning. In half the starts they never made it into the 6th, which begs the question, why hasn't Everett Teaford appeared in a game yet? Teaford has supposedly taken over long relief duties but has yet to be seen. Meanwhile five other members of the bullpen (including alleged LOOGY Jose Mijares) have appeared three times each. If Teaford is going to be treated like a Rule 5 pick then maybe he should trade places with Omaha's Louis Coleman. Just a thought.

It'll be interesting to see how they respond to yesterday's disastrous loss. Personally I think the day off today probably helps and I'm sure an enthusiastic crowd tomorrow will have the boys pumped up. It also doesn't hurt that they'll be facing the struggling Indians. Cleveland is sitting at 1-4 thanks in no small part to being 11th in the AL in runs and 12th in ERA. The Royals, on the other hand, are also 11th in runs but are right now, believe it or not, leading the American League with a 2.39 ERA. It won't last but it was fun to write.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Nice Start To The Season

Just like last year the Royals won the their first series of the season despite an opening day loss to Jered Weaver. A strong start is absolutely vital if KC wants to contend for a few months. Detroit looks like they are who we thought they are and seem capable of running away with the division. I don't know about you but I'd like to see the Royals within 5 games at the break. Anyway, here are my takeaways from the season's opening weekend.

  • The return of Second Half Luke highlighted a strong series by the rotation. I wasn't shocked by Bruce Chen's start as he is capable of those types of outings. Sure they'll be the exception rather than the rule but if he can keep his ERA+ around 100 all year I'll be happy. Luke Hochevar was just plain nasty at times while pitching into the 7th inning. He allowed just 2 runs but those were scored when Yost strangely and unsurprisingly brought in Tim Collins to face Bobby Abreu instead of Jose Mijares, the guy who was signed to be the bullpen's LOOGY. Jonathan Sanchez was serviceable but always seemed to be on the brink of giving up a big inning. 3 walks and 2 wild pitches, man, this guy is not going to be boring.
  • I'm fully convinced Eric Hosmer is going to make a run at Steve Balboni's home run record. Hosmer homered on Saturday and Sunday and appears to be locked in early. This, of course, will only make him more expensive if he should decide to sign a long term deal.
  • Getzancourt looked good but let's not get carried away. The two headed offensive force at second base combined to hit .455/.455/.545 in the series and played decent defense. There was something wonderfully pleasing about Chris Getz hitting a double in his first at bat of the season, but look, last year the guy hit .342/.400/.368 in his first 47 plate appearances, and that was with his old batting stance. I'm not rooting against him and Betancourt, I mean if they can produce at even a league average pace I think a lot of us will be thrilled, but their track record is what it is, so I remain doubtful either one will hit enough to justify their roster spot.
  • Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain all struggled. I'm not worried about A1, he'll hit, but Moose and Cain are still question marks so I was hoping they would both get off to strong starts. Cain is a defensive wiz and I'm not sure how much he'll have to hit to keep his starting job but he may want to get it going sooner rather than later.
Oakland's next as we get our first look of the season at Luis Mendoza, a guy I desperately want to be wrong about.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Game 1 Thoughts

For the most part this game was a replay of a last year's opening day. If you'll recall the Royals were unable to score off Jered Weaver in that game too. KC then shook that loss off and won the next three games in the series. Let's hope for something similar today and tomorrow. I'm not sure I get all the hand wringing about this loss. These types of games are going to happen against the Weavers and Verlanders of the world.
  • Bruce Chen looked good. The funnyman pitched 6 scoreless innings but was removed after just 75 pitches. His Game Score of 70 was the 9th highest in his Royals career. Now I know Yost pulling him caused quite a stir but I didn't have a problem with the move. Chen didn't seem as sharp in the 6th inning, and with the heart of the Angels lineup coming up in the 7th, I'm not sure he would've made it out of the inning.
  • Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler and Mike Moustakas combined to go 0/19 with 10 strikeouts. Call me crazy but I don't think that's going to happen too many times. It was distressing watching them chase so many pitches out of the strike zone but hopefully that was just first game jitters.
  • Yuniesky Betancourt looked ok and actually got on base twice due to a couple Mark Trumbo errors. Yuni singled in the 7th inning after Trumbo hilariously misplayed a foul ball. That hit might have scored Jeff Francoeur had he not got picked off second base. There was a mini-controversy surrounding Yuni's start in this game, but come on, the only other option was Chris Getz. I recognize the lesser of two evils when I see it.
  • Aaron Crow looked good striking out the side in the 7th but then turned around and gave up three straight hits in the 8th. Instead of putting out the fire Greg Holland allowed all three runs to score plus two more of his own. I expect this will be a rare occurrence too but I couldn't help but think about the 2006 bullpen that was supposed to be dominant but instead was a disaster. 
  • Albert Pujols failed to get the ball out of the infield. A longtime Royal killer he looked absolutely ordinary against Chen and Crow. His only time on base was due to an intentional walk that predictably failed to halt the Angels 8th inning onslaught.
  • It was just the second time in franchise history that KC has been shutout on opening day. The first occurred in 1976 when Amos Otis, George Brett, John Mayberry, Hal McRae and Al Cowens combined to go 3/19 in a 4-0 loss to the White Sox. The Royals somehow shook that loss off and won their first division title that year.
The Royals face Dan Haren today so it will probably be another low scoring affair. He has a 1.91 ERA in 8 career starts against KC. Luke Hochevar will oppose him in his first attempt at proving his 2011 second half was not a fluke.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Kansas City Royals 2012 Preview - Twitter Edition

When the 2011 season ended Royals fans everywhere wished they could fast forward time to 2012's opening day. Well after a long offseason, and an up and down spring, that day has finally arrived. Mission 2012, Our Time or whatever you want to call it begins tonight against the California Angels (don't care what they're really called, they'll always be the California Angels to me).

Typically when I do a season preview it's a roundtable with other bloggers, and sometimes members of the mainstream media. This year, though, I handed off preview duties to some of my favorite people on twitter (if you're not on twitter, you should be, because it will change the way you watch a Royals game). Today's participants are all passionate Royals fans (and worthy follows, so follow them) and enthusiastically agreed to answer some questions about the 2012 season. I made it clear they didn't have to adhere to any character limits so they could feel free to go as in-depth as they wanted, some took me up on it, some didn't.

Here is the roundtable cast (do yourself a favor and follow all these people):

1. Which starting pitcher will have the best season? 

@Martin26M - Boy what a loaded question. Based on history alone Chen has been the best/most consistent starter on the staff 3 years in a row. Logic would say another year of that with 12-14 wins at least with a higher 3 - low 4.0 ERA. The true x-factors to this for me is Paulino figuring out his potential and newly acquired Jonathan Sanchez ability to return to his 2010 form. If he finds that magic he should emerge as the ace of the staff with 14+ wins. Until then the safe money has to be Chen. Duffy is too far away from finding his pitching identity and Hoch having his 1 inning meltdowns. Monty like Duffy needs to find their identity, quit trying to be a power guy finessing their way down the lineup. Cut the walks and trust your defense with your strength, I call it the Greinke effect.

@tigerdan4 - Danny Duffy with 16 wins.

@burymearoyalI’ll take Luke Hochevar, who I think really has to take a big step forward in 2012. How much longer can Luke stay in the rotation of an ever-improving Royals squad if he can’t even put up league average numbers for the whole year? Anyway, I’ll be optimistic and say Hoch is the one Ned throws out there for the one-game wildcard playoff against the Angels (ha). 15 wins, 4.20 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 200 IP, 150 Ks.

@NorthMoRoyal -Luke Hochevar will be the Royals best starting pitcher when the All-Star break hits KC, but Danny Duffy will light the AL up come the 2nd half posting a 11-2 record in the 2nd half alone after going 6-6 in the 1st half of the season. Duffy's 1st half era of 4.84 is reduced to 3.25 after a dominating 2nd half of the season making him the best SP for the season. 

@LilFrenchysMom - I think Hochevar will have the best first half of the season but Duffy will have a better second half. I think both pitchers will end up with at least 12 wins each.  Chen will be sporadic and won't pitch as well as the last 2 years.

@5joeclines - Duffman, oh ya.  But I think picking the best SP is like picking our best opening day option at 2nd base. 12 wins 3.16 era (#godovereverything).

2. Who will be the team's best hitter?

@Martin26MAll money is on Hosmer and Gordon as the triple threat leaders. Gordon has the muscle maturity for the power numbers to really emerge. Hos will start to see more doubles become HRs this year. Butler will in the hunt for AVG and RBI race.

@tigerdan4 - Eric Hosmer at .325 with 110 RBIs.

@burymearoyalChris Getz, because he really came into spring training and showed everyone he’s a “totally different offensive player” now that he’s made those much-publicized changes to his batting stance. Nah, seriously, Eric Hosmer is the obvious choice here. I think he’ll make significant progress toward becoming a legit superstar, with a .290 AVG, .340 OBP, and 25 HRs.

@NorthMoRoyal - Billy Butler will lead the team in BA and OBP this season with a .325 BA and a .400 OBP. He will drive the ball a lil less with 14 HR's but still will reach the 40+ doubles that he did last yr. (for the record I also think Billy could hit 25+ HR's and still bat .325 w. a .360+ OBP)

@LilFrenchysMom - Alex Gordon will be the best overall hitter but Eric Hosmer will lead the team in RBI's and home runs.

@5joeclines - Country Breakfast. From base clogger to base clearer, 32 hr bustout.

3. Who will lead the team in home runs? And will Balboni's franchise record 36 home runs finally be broken?

@Martin26MAs before, I see Gordon as the HR leader, again due to muscle maturity, but Hos will be close on his tail. With Frenchy adding for an interesting race…No, Balboni’s record is safe this year, next year is a different story, though.

@tigerdan4 - Eric Hosmer with 32. HR record broken next year by Moustakas.

@burymearoyalBilly Butler. I don’t think he’ll quite break Balboni’s record, but I expect Country Breakfast to finally see a big jump in his power numbers now that he has some decent bats around him.  In the end, I say 10 of those majestic Billy Butler doubles will clear the fence, and he finally will break that 30 home run mark.

@NorthMoRoyal - Eric Hosmer will lead the team in HR's this season with 31 and will also lead the team in RBI's and doubles while hitting a .290. 

@LilFrenchysMom - I predict Hos hitting 32 home runs and Alex Gordon with 28. Billy Butler will have 23 home runs and Frenchy will have 22. Lorenzo Cain will be a powerhouse with 27 home runs. Is this wishful thinking?  Chris Getz will hit 1 home run this year.

@5joeclines - Country Breakfast, not this year but next.

4. Who will represent the Royals in the All Star game?

@Martin26MHosmer and Gordon.

@tigerdan4 - Alex Gordon as a starter, Billy Butler & Eric Hosmer as reserves. Hosmer in the HR Derby.

@burymearoyalI could see Gordon, Hosmer, or Butler making the All Star team, if they have big years. But if I’ve got to choose one, I’ll say @Hos3KC, because I think he’s got the personality to really win the fans over and rack in those votes.

@NorthMoRoyal - Eric Hosmer and Greg Holland will represent the Royals in the All-Star game with Eric being 2nd in the league in RBI's at the break and Holland will have a sub 1 era at the break.

@LilFrenchysMom - Eric Hosmer and Alex Gordon, Greg Holland in the bullpen as a closer.  Yes, I am dreaming of 3 Royals All Stars.

@5joeclines - A1, Holland.

                                                  5. Which relief pitcher will lead the team in saves?

@Martin26MBroxton will take the job and never give it up. I was one of a few people calling for Soria to be traded in the offseason while he had great value, that’s forever lost now.

@tigerdan4Jonathan Broxton with 27. Holland will chip in with 15.

@burymearoyalI think Yost will start the season with Broxton as the stopper, but switch to Greg Holland sometime before the All-Star break. Holland will finish the year with ERA, WHIP, and K numbers similar to last year, with 20-25 saves.

@NorthMoRoyal - While I hoped that Broxton would lead the team in Saves for the season because it meant that Holland was used in a "Firemans" role in 6-7-8th innings I think Holland winds up being the closer eventually ending up with 27 saves on the season. 

@LilFrenchysMom - Greg Holland will lead the team in saves. He will get 29 saves and have an ERA of less than 2.00.

@5joeclines - Crow

6. How many games will the Royals win this year and in what place will they finish?

@Martin26M - I will be conservative and call it an 80 win/ .500 season.

@tigerdan4 - 83 wins & 2nd place. Royals will make playoffs as the 2nd Wildcard.

@burymearoyalI’m using every optimistic bone in my body here, but I really can’t see the Royals cracking .500 this year. I think there’s good reason to like the offense and the bullpen, but I just can’t ignore that absolutely horrible starting pitching. We’d need absolute breakthrough years from Duffy, Hochevar, and Paulino to even think about competing in the Central.  But that’s too much to ask for in a single year. In the end, I’ll say 79-83. Third place in the AL Central, behind Detroit and Cleveland.

@NorthMoRoyalBarring any serious injuries(ie; 60 day DL trips) among the core of the lineup I see the Royals being kind of streaky this season, finishing strong in Sept after a rough August and winding up with 86 wins. 

This is completely off the cuff and just a guess of course. I don't have an analytical mind nor the patience to review numbers and tendencies. This is just for fun of course and I hope that you all can agree..Royals baseball is a gift. Lets enjoy it! Go Royals! #BuryMeARoyal

@LilFrenchysMom - The Royals will finish in 2nd place with a record of 82-80. 

@5joeclines - 78 wins, 2nd place.