We know what to expect from established veterans like Shields, Butler, Gordon and Guthrie. We anticipate improvements from Moose and Hosmer. We hope for a healthy Perez; hope that Escobar can repeat 2012; hope Santana will be healthy to make 30 starts. We again expect a dominating bullpen, enhanced by needing to pitch less innings. These hopes and expectations make the Royals a competitive team. But nine more wins are needed to contend for a playoff spot.
These four positions produced a cumulative 2.1 WAR in 2012 (Fangraphs); 9 more is needed in 2013.
CF – We desparately need a healthy Cain in 2013. My eyes say he is capable of the best defense in CF that the Royals have had since Carlos Beltran. I’m offensively optimistic with Lorenzo as well (1.7 WAR in 61 games). In 2012, CF produced a cumulative 2.7 WAR; a healthy Cain projects to 4.3 WAR with his 2012 numbers (average for CF).
2B – Some combination of Getz, Falu, Gio, Abreu or Colon (no Yuni!) needs to at a minimum play solid defense and get on base. I’d really like to see Colon take over at 2B this season, but a combo of Getz and Falu hopefully can produce more than the -0.9 WAR produced in 2012. 2.0 WAR is required (a liitle below average).
RF – Can someone or some combination of players produce more the the -1.2 WAR that Frenchy produced in 2012?!? At a minimum, we need Frenchy to be productive against LHP and hope that a platoonish situation with Lough/Dyson/Cain can produce 2.0 WAR (still below average). Probably an upgrade will be needed at the trade deadline.
5th SP – Can Hochevar flourish as the 5th starter, with Shields as a mentor? Maybe not being the "guy" will turn those hopefull periphirals into innings and wins. At least the Royals have some options. Mendoza or Chen could hold things down until Duffy or Paulino can contribute in August and September. Hochevar produced a 1.5 WAR in 2012; we need 3.0 (average).
If I did my math correctly - average CF and 5th SP, slightly below average in RF and 2B add up to 9.2 WAR and a playoff birth.
A repeat of 2012 at these positions and…