Positively Royals

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Less than thirty games remain in this 2013 season, and the Kansas City Royals are on pace for their first winning season since 2003. For most organizations, that isn’t considered a big deal, but in Kansas City it’s big. Coming into the season there was a lot of hope with equal parts criticism(myself included), and at some points in the year the Royals have looked like a playoff team. It seems highly doubtful that will happen this year, but 2014 seems reasonable for a playoff push. Whichever way you look at it, there has been improvement with the Royals, and as fans we can walk away with some positives from the 2013 season. With that in mind, here are five positives that the Royals will bring into next year and hopefully help set the foundation for a contender. See, I CAN be positive!

Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas

1) Eric Hosmer & Mike Moustakas have started hitting

If the first two months of 2013 were what we should have expected from Hosmer and Moustakas, then it looked as if the two linchpins of this Royals team were going to be a bust. Moustakas got off to an awful start that saw his average dip into the .170’s while Hosmer showed no power and had become an opposite field singles hitter. Hosmer’s 2012 had already put a seed of doubt into many a Royals fan’s mind, so when he AND Moustakas struggled early on, we all felt that disgusting feeling in the pit of our stomach’s. But then the Royals fired hitting coaches Jack Maloof and Andre David(why does that feel like it was three seasons ago??), brought in some guy named George Brett and Pedro Grifol, and they immediately started to work with the Dynamic Duo. This dynamic duo:

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Hard to imagine these guys not being taken seriously, right? The work with Hosmer showed immediately, as he started hitting not only to right field, but to right field with power! Moustakas has gone from a .215 hitter in the first half of the season to a .299 hitter in the second half. I’m a little bit weary to say they are both fixed(although I feel a LOT safer saying that about Hosmer), but it sure appears as if whatever was ailing them earlier this year is now gone. You hate to pin success on a team on one or two players, but as these two go, so go the Royals. The offense at times has really lagged for Kansas City this year, and there are still concerns that this is a very streaky Royals team, but if Hos and Moose can be more consistent then we should also expect more consistency from the entire offense. If anything, it has been nice to see these two climb out of their early season slumps and show the promise they once had when they first arrived in the majors. But for the Royals to jump into that next level, they need them to do this on a consistent basis.

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2) Glorious Starting Pitching

We all knew going into this season that the Royals starting pitching was going to be better than 2012. That seemed pretty obvious, as it couldn’t have been much worse than it had been. Actually, after 2012 it almost would have been an improvement to trot out the cotton candy vendor, the ticket lady, Ned Yost’s Grandma, and the ghost of Hiram Davies(he is dead, correct?). So the shock this season wasn’t that the rotation was improved, it was just how much it was improved. The Royals went from having one of the worst rotations in baseball(that could barely get through 5 innings each start) to one that was clearly one of the best in the sport. James Shields immediately took the reigns of leader of the staff, and has shown that on the mound this year, despite his record(Kill the Win? Indeed). Jeremy Guthrie had a wonderful first half, and while he has come back down to earth here in the second half, he has still been a very serviceable starter. The big surprise has been Ervin Santana, who few of us thought was even going to be an average pitcher. Santana has exceeded expectations, lowering his home run rate and allowing his wonderful infield defense to take care of things for him. It’s possible the Santana trade could be Dayton Moore’s best trade to date, and one that could continue to benefit Kansas City. Santana is a free agent at the end of the season, and his value has skyrocketed this season, even for the team he seems to love now. The Royals might be able to re-sign him, but if they do it will be at a hefty price. Throw in the occasional Wade Davis start(or my new name for him, Hiram Davies III), a splendid second half by Bruce Chen(throwing a steady diet of slop, courtesy of Chuck Samples), and the return of Danny Duffy and you have a rotation fighting with Texas over the best ERA in the American League. Hopefully the team can keep most of this group intact and grow on it come 2014.

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3) Defense for Royalty

Most Royals fans acknowledge that the team’s defense has long been a strong point for this team, even if the numbers didn’t always point that out. But this year, with a healthy Lorenzo Cain, an improved Hosmer, and the usual great ‘D’ by Perez, Escobar, Gordon and Moose, this team has been excellent defensively. Remember, numbers don’t lie:
2013 American League Defensive Summary

The biggest factor there is the ‘Defensive Runs Saved Above Avg.’. It’s obvious having such a good defense has made other facets of the Royals game(ahem, the pitching) even better than originally thought. I personally believe that Cain has been a big part of this, as when he went down with his most recent injury the team seemed to shuffle. Having his glove, and the ground he covers, on the field every day has been a major boom for Kansas City and has helped those defensive numbers a lot. For the Royals to continue their success in 2014, they need the defense to continue to put up these kind of numbers.

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4)#DirtySouth

The last couple years, Greg Holland has been one of the Royals top relievers. His 2011 season was phenomenal, as he proved he deserved a shot at closing for the team once Joakim Soria left for greener pastures. It took the team trading away veteran Jonathan Broxton, but finally Holland was given closing duties late last year, and he stepped up again. Slide back to the first month of this season: Holland struggles and crazy Royals fans with pitchforks want Kelvin Herrera to take over the closers job after Holland’s early struggles. Before Thursday’s game against Seattle, Holland had given up only four runs since April. Four. Sure, Mariano Rivera is still the best. Aroldis Chapman consistently lights up the radar gun with triple digits, and Craig Kimbrel might be having the best season of a closer this year. But make no doubt about it, ‘Dirty South’ is right up there with him. Just look at his K/9 ratio: 13.8. 89 strikeouts, 14 walks this season. Insane. Holland is having a season that the only other Royals closers can even compare to are two guys named Quisenberry and Montgomery. Holland more than earned his All-Star nod this year, and the sad part is trading Holland might actually be the smart thing for Kansas City to do this year. But if he isn’t dealt, we can deal with having one of the best closers in the game.

5)The Final Episodes of ‘Breaking Bad’

Whoops. My bad. I was just really excited after that shootout Sunday night. Whoops again. Spoilers.

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5)The Royals are Winning! 

It’s September 9th as I write this, and the Royals are still in the Wild Card discussion in the American League. I know, I didn’t expect that. But it’s nice, real nice to see the Royals go out there and compete every night and feel like they can win the game. We’ve all watched some real lousy baseball over the years(and some in spurts this year) but to see a team in playoff contention this late in the season is splendid. Wonderful. It makes me happy and puts a smile on my face. This is all we’ve wanted, guys. We just want to win and know we can be in the same discussion as the other teams making October plans. Early on this year I didn’t see them playing good enough to be in the conversation, but it’s happening. Soak it up, Royals fans. We could definitely get used to this!

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Hopefully  in a year from now, this list is twice as long. Hopefully we are still talking playoffs, and hopefully it is Division title talk. This team has grown as a group since the early parts of the year and have really earned the spot they are at right now. It’s so much nicer talking about positive baseball than all the bad things that can develop during a season. Hopefully in a year, we can retire the term ‘Yosted’ and ‘Royalling’…because winning makes all those things go away.

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FLASHBACK: Fake Royals Predictions 2012

Author’s Note: The Flashback articles on here I originally wrote for the website royalsbaseball.net. That website has now become defunct, so I thought I would move them over here to Bleeding Royal Blue. I’d like to thank Joel Matheny for giving me the opportunity to write for his website, even if it was for just a few months. So enjoy, and go Royals!

hosWith the 2012 Kansas City Royals season less than a week away, I normally take this time to put forth my predictions for the upcoming season. The thing is, I kind of have with a lot of my articles as of late. So, I thought it would be fun today to take a look at ‘Fake Predictions’ for this Royals ball club. These are all just jokes, and it’s supposed to be a fun way of looking forward to opening day. So enjoy, and please, try not to take this too seriously!

foxworthy_yostNed Yost will decide mid-season to shake things up and make Jeff Foxworthy his new bench coach. When that doesn’t work, he will go on sabbatical…which is code for ‘spending his time fishing and hunting.’
Chris Getz’s new stance will pay dividends, as 3/4 of his hits this season will be extra base hits.

ellie_rodriguez With Salvador Perez out with an injury, the team looks into cloning him. Unfortunately, the team sends in the wrong DNA, and instead the Royals get a clone of former Catcher Ellie Rodriguez.

hiram After a few pitching injuries early in the season, GM Dayton Moore finds Kyle Davies in the backwoods of Georgia, and signs him to a minor league contract. He now wants to be known by his given name, Hiram.
With Royals infielder Yuniesky Betancourt having trouble with his range, the team buys him a segue-way to make it easier for him to get to grounders balls to the left and right of him.

mooseAfter a slow start, Mike Moustakas will go on a tear. Even more interesting, Moustakas will end up stealing 30 bases, as he finds cutting his hair gives him extra speed.
Bruce Chen continues to frustrate White Sox managers, as the team’s new skipper Robin Ventura goes on a expletive laden tirade that would make Ozzie Guillen proud.

gio Johnny Giavotella will return to the ball club during the season, but when he shows up to the ballpark, he is told he isn’t ‘tall enough for the rides’.

teafordRoyals fans beg for the flames normally used for Joakim Soria’s entrance. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the same affect when Everett Teaford enters the game.
Eric Hosmer has a superb season, enough so that he ends up as a spokesman for Loreal hair products.
Alcides  Escobar is praised for his defense, but even more so when he makes a play near the third base line, throwing out the runner – Who happens to be Bengie Molina.

rex-french7Rex Hudler will make most of the Royals fanbase mute their Tv’s and force them to listen to the radio while watching a Royals game.
Royals Owner David Glass will show up for two dozens game this season, instead of his usual dozen.

sluggerWhen Sluggger is forced to throw hot dogs instead of shooting them, the team finds out that he has a really good arm. Sluggger is then signed to a contract and sent to AAA Omaha.
Tim Collins develops a growth spurt and ends the year 5′ 10”.
Billy Butler gets off to a bad start. With the extra pressure on him, Billy Loses 20 lbs in a month.
Luis Mendoza continues his excellent pitching, winning close to 20 games and turning out to be the ace of the staff.
Royals fans everywhere are glad Kevin Kouzmanoff doesn’t make the team, as many were afraid they would have to either pronounce his last name or spell it. Instead they are stuck trying to figure out how to pronounce ‘Bourgeois’.
Mid-season, the team wants some new blood, so they go out before the deadline and acquire Miguel Olivo and Willie Bloomquist, saying they are ‘just want this team was missing’.
Hitting Coach Kevin Seitzer proves he is a man of magic, turning Yuniesky Betancourt and Humberto Quintero into walking machines, as the two are near the top of the league in walks.

penaBrayan Pena will be cut once Sal Perez comes back. Because he loves the team so much, he will stay and take over Sluggger’s job.
Jose Mijares will realize a game moves faster when he doesn’t step off it after every pitch, and becomes what baseball experts call a ‘fast worker’.

jonathan-broxton-royals-pantsJonathan Broxton will arrange a contest to see if he can get 3 of his teammates to wear his pants all at once.
Mitch Maier starts more than once a month this season.

play_francouer_sy_576Jeff Francoeur will prove how fan friendly he is, as he will spend half an inning hanging in the ‘French Quarter’.
Sean O’Sullivan will pitch so good that I will quit calling him by the nickname I gave him.
A fan won’t wear a $200 All-Star game jersey to a game and still not know the basics of baseball.
The first place Royals fans will flock to read incite on the team will be in the comments section of Facebook.

relishand finally, I will root for relish this year for the first team in the classic Mustard, Ketchup and Relish race.

Enjoy the 2012 Royals season everyone! Now let’s talk some baseball!

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