With another losing season staring us in the face and a crucial 2012/2013 off-season quickly approaching, I thought it would be instructive and interesting to lay out both the case for and the case against the Royals becoming contenders for the 2013 season.
Many fans feel that the team is close to contention, with a core of young, exciting players, complemented by a very strong and deep bullpen. What are some of the key factors that may indicate that the Royals are on the verge of turning things around, as quickly as next year?
- The 2012 team was decimated by injuries to several key players-Several significant players lost significant time (Perez, Cain) or most of the season (Soria, Wood, Duffy, Paulino) to injury. This robbed the team of a ton of production at key lineup spots, our rotation, and the bullpen, which would have made a big difference in our overall record.
- Hosmer's sophomore slump-Hosmer is a huge talent that got off to a terrible start and has only recently started to show signs of coming out of it. The chances that he bounces back to provide significant production are good.
- This season has shown that, although the depth isn't spectacular, we do have some back of the rotation pitching depth with Will Smith and Luis Mendoza. Should we add some significant pieces to the rotation in the off-season, we will have some decent depth (and really good depth when Duffy and Paulino come back) to sustain injuries better than in the past.
- Despite all of the injuries, the team has only been outscored by about 50 runs thus far in 2012, with a Pythagorean record of 64-74...not great, but really not that far off from what we had hoped for at the beginning of the year.
- The Royals have money to spend, and recent history has shown that they will spend it-the Royals have recently had payrolls in the mid-70s, and the projected payroll (assuming a Hochevear non-tender) will be somewhere in the mid-50s. This could give the team around $20 million to spend on one impact starter and a reclamation project, along with the prospects to make a trade for another impact starter.
- Wil Myers-The team has arguably the best prospect in baseball waiting in the wings, ready to join the major-league team and provide additional offensive production to an already exciting lineup.
Add this all together, and the Royals could be in the position to take a big step forward next year. In the next couple of days, I'll lay out the case against the Royals making a push in 2013.