During a recent I-70 Baseball Radio show, Bill Ivie and I looked into the crystal ball and predicted the starting lineups for our respective teams in 2011.
Here, with my comments, is my projected Opening Day starting lineup for the 2011 Kansas City Royals.
(NOTE: This projected lineup is made with internal candidates only; any free-agent signings the Royals make could throw a wrench into it.)
1. Jarrod Dyson, CF
Dyson really impressed me in the minors in 2010 and during a major league callup late in the year. Although he didn’t put up great numbers in The Bigs, Dyson proved he can be a productive leadoff hitter, and he’s one of the best baserunners I’ve ever seen. He also provides a strong glove in the outfield.
2. David Dejesus, RF
Before a season-ending injury in 2010, DeJesus was on pace to put up the best numbers of his career. If he can stay healthy, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be the No. 2 hitter next year – unless manager Ned Yost decides to bat him leadoff.
3. Billy Butler, 1B
Billy has been consistently solid at the plate over the last couple years, and defensively he’s getting better every season. Although I’d like to see him hit more home runs and hit into fewer double plays, he makes for a strong No. 3 batter on this team.
4. Kila Ka’aihue, DH
Like Dyson, Kila didn’t put up huge numbers in the majors in 2010, but I think he deserves a shot at a full season in KC. He probably shouldn’t be batting fourth, but… who else is gonna bat cleanup on this team?
5. Mike Aviles, 2B
After recovering from an injury, Aviles returned to form at the end of 2010. I expect 2011 to be a huge breakout hear for the infielder – and I expect him to be the Royals’ All Star representative next season.
6. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS
Hopefully Yuni can put up the same kind of numbers he did in 2010. If he can, perhaps Yuni becomes a legitimate trade candidate in mid-season – which would probably be best for the Royals long term. He’s a shoe-in to start at shortstop on Opening Day.
7. Alex Gordon, LF
I think 2011 is Alex Gordon’s last chance with the Royals. If he can’t prove himself as a legitimate day-to-day player, I don’t see him in Royal blue in 2012.
8. Mike Moustakas, 3B
If things go as planned, Moose will be the starting third baseman on Opening Day. He also won’t stay in the No. 8 hole for long – I can even see him moving up to 3, 4 or 5.
9. Lucas May, C
This is my dark-horse pick for 2011. I think May beats out Brayan Pena for the starting catching position, which will be up for grabs due to Jason Kendall’s injury.
Bench: Wilson Betemit, Brayan Pena, Mitch Maier, Gregor Blanco and either Chris Getz or Josh Fields.
There you have it, folks. I would be very satisfied as a Royals fan if the Opening Day lineup looks like this. When we get closer to April, I’ll take another look at this projection and see how wrong I am.
Matt Kelsey is a Royals writer for I-70 Baseball. He can be reached at email@example.com.