The media has a tendency to be critical spirits printing mostly [expletive] as Ned would say, but this year there seems to be a lot of buzz about our plucky Royals as a sexy dark horse pick to make the playoffs. Is it because, in a way, we won the World Series last year? Here is a round up of media predictions on the Royals for the 2014 season.
The Royals could make the playoffs for the first time since Brett was their third baseman in 1985. They have arguably the best overall defense (including five players nominated for Gold Gloves last year) and bullpen (which led the AL in ERA last year) in the American League. Hosmer and Perez are primed to have breakout All-Star, Silver Slugger and Gold Glove-type seasons while rookie pitchers Zimmer and Ventura could be the difference-makers by season's end.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has been spotted visiting certain dispensaries in the Denver area, for he has predicted our plucky Royals will not only win the Central Division, but will take the pennant and lose a thrilling World Series to the Dodgers.
This is a very good team, there's little question about that. The biggest question is whether the Royals can supplant the Tigers. And while that isn't going to be easy, Detroit has had a very unfortunate spring training, which has left it with some serious questions, including one at shortstop, so the Royals and Indians have their best chance in years to surpass the perennial class of the division.
By my estimation, there's a chance both do. I'll take the Royals to win the division, the Indians to finish second and the Tigers third.
His colleagues Mike Axisa and Matt Snyder are a bit more sober, predicting the Royals to finish in second (Snyder has the Royals as the second Wild Card), while Dayn Perry is a stone-cold hater, picking us to finish a distant fourth behind the Racists of Cleveland and even the rebuilding White Sox. Axisa and Snyder think Uncle Ned will win Manager of the Year.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today picks Yordano Ventura to win Rookie of the Year, saying he's hearing Ventura is the most electric arm since Dwight Gooden.
Albert Chin of Sports Illustrated picks the Royals to finish 88-74, in second place in the Central and a playoff team. He cites an anonymous scout, who says:
Most overrated: Mike Moustakas "Mike Moustakas, from all the hype that he’s got. He gets in funks where it’s hard to say what the heck’s wrong. He doesn’t seem to be able to make adjustments."
Most underrated: Kyle Zimmer "Don’t sleep on Kyle Zimmer—he’s underrated as one of the best young phenoms in the game. I think he could make an impact this season. He’s got elite stuff, and in a few years, he’s their ace. He’ll be on an innings cap and they’ll need to pace his innings, but if they’re in the hunt in September—and I think they will be—he could be an X-factor for them."
In the embeded video in the link, Tom Verducci says the Royals should win the American League Central, praising their bullpen and depth, and adding that the pressure will be on Manager Ned Yost.
Another SI contributor, Ben Reitner, picks the Royals in the Wild Card game, while Chen picks Ventura to win Rokie of the Year. Joe Sheehan and Jay Jaffe are not as impressed with the Royals. Verducci adds that Salvador Perez is the best player in baseball under the age of 25 (not counting Trout or Harper), writing:
Perez is one of the more underrated stars in the game. Last year at age 23, he posted a .757 OPS while driving in 79 runs. Do you know how many other catchers that young have done that in the past 27 years? Two: Brian McCann and Joe Mauer.
The St. Louis-based Sporting News predicts the Royals to lose the Wild Card game to the Yankees, finishing in second behind the Tigers. And Manager of the Year? Our own Ned Yost!
Our sister site Beyond the Boxscore predicts 80 wins for the Royals, good for a disappointing third place finish.
Baseball Prospectus is even more sour on the Royals, projecting 78-84, for a third place finish. But they're a bunch of pop tart-eating nerds.
A writer on Bleacher Report predicts the Royals to win the Central Division. Click nine times through the slideshow to see why and it will CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
Finally, Sam Mellinger of the Star has an Over/Under challenge with Oklahoma Joe's on the line. Mmmmm....burnt ends. He sets the over/under win total at 85.5.
What say you?