While Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost admits that every manager probably feels that way this time of year, Yost told MLB.com that this time, “I believe it.” Yost said, “I think with this group we’re definitely going to win a world championship somewhere down the road, the next couple of years. That’s just the way I feel.”
The first step for the Royals is to finish with a winning record. The club has only finished over .500 six times, since winning the World Series in 1985 and the last winning season came in 2003. Since then the Royals have never won more than 75 games.
On the other side of the coin, Yost may not be all that far off with his thoughts. The Royals own the best Spring Training record as of 3/19 with a 17-6 record.
The Royals have three solid starters at the top of their rotation with James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie and Ervin Santana. Guthrie went 5-3 as a starter after being traded by Colorado. Santana is 96-80 over his nine seasons and Shields is 87-73.
Salvador Perez is the American League’s answer to Yadier Molina. The 22 year old catcher missed half of last season and still finished with 11 home runs and a .301 batting average. Behind the plate, he threw out 42% of stolen base attempts and had five pickoffs in just 74 games. Last season Molina had five in 133 games.
The Royals do need their young stars on the corner to produce more. Mike Moustakas hit 20 homers, but only batted .242 and Eric Hosmer hit just .232 with 14 homers after his 2011 debut when he hit .293 with 19 homers in just 12 fewer at-bats.
Alex Gordon has found a home in left, Billy Butler will always hit and Jeff Francoeur provides veteran leadership in the outfield.
If Lorenzo Cain can stay healthy in centerfield (61 games played) and Alcides Escobar continue to grow at shortstop, (.295 last season), the two players acquired in the trade with Milwaukee for Zack Greinke, can help the Royals field a very formidable everyday lineup.
That lineup potential, along with the upgrade in starting pitching, and the solid arms in bullpen (Aaron Crow, Tim Collins, Kelvin Herrera) this club looks like a team on paper than can certainly finish with more than 81 wins.