The Royals have assembled their starting nine for 2015, but with two new additions to the offense it begs the question - how will they line up to hit this year? The Royals toyed with several different lineups last year, trying to find an offense that would work. They settled on a lineup towards the end of the year that seemed to click, and it appears Ned Yost will largely carry that offense into next year. He revealed his thinking to Fox Sports Kansas City's Jeffrey Flanagan, suggesting he would like to keep Alcides Escobar in the lead-off position.
"Esky just did such a solid job late in the year and all through the playoffs," Yost said. "And he has really taken to it. He loves leading off and he wants to be there. Pretty sure that's how we'll go."
Yost also likes the idea of speed at the top of the order, a philosophy he adopted midway through last September and that helped trigger the Royals' late-season run through the playoffs and World Series.
"It's kind of what makes us go," Yost said.
With that in mind, Rios likely would hit No. 2, with Lorenzo Cain hitting third again.
If you look at Steamer projections for next year, Escobar and Rios are projected to have the two worst on-base percentages among the starters, both under .305. Lorenzo Cain is also in for quite a bit of regression, according to Steamer.
With that in mind -- and Yost cautioned that nothing is set in stone -- here's one likely batting order:
1. Escobar, SS
2. Rios, RF
3. Cain, CF
4. Hosmer, 1B
5. Morales, DH
6. Gordon, LF
7. Perez, C
8. Infante, 2B
9. Moustakas, 3B
Alex Gordon projects to have the best on-base percentage on the club, and he could hit as low as sixth.
Yost is careful to caution that nothing is set in stone, and things could change in spring training. Its just a bit troubling to hear they are considering putting two players not particularly adept at getting on-base at the very top of the lineup. Say what you will about Nori Aoki, but his career .353 on-base percentage is 30 points higher than Rios' and over 50 points higher than Alcides Escobar.
Ned also talked a bit about the rotation, although again cautioning that nothing has been decided.
"I don't know how we'll go in terms of right-lefty," Yost said. "It's something we won't know for sure until we get toward the end of spring and see how we match up the first couple of weeks of the regular season."
One likely scenario would be this: Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy or Jason Vargas, Volquez, Duffy or Vargas, and Jeremy Guthrie.
Whether Duffy is the #2 probably depends a lot on Duffy's health after he had a cracked rib that altered his mechanics at the end of last year. But it sounds like barring injury, you can probably expect to see Yordano Ventura on Opening Day.
How do you feel about the early look at the lineup? This is the man who guided us to an American League pennant, so I think its safe to defer to his sage wisdom and judgment, don't you?