Assessing the first month of a season for a ball club requires you to know the goal of the club overall. Every big league club and player will tell you that they play to win, point blank. But the front office may take a different view. In the case of the Royals, a lot is to be said about patience and development in 2011. The Royals will open the season taking on division rivals in the Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers and even the Cleveland Indians. They will also find themselves going head to head with AL West foes in the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and the Seattle Mariners. Some of these games will negatively impact the team’s record, but all of them will test a young team in terms of their fortitude.
Total Games: 27
Vs teams with winning records in 2010: 15
Vs teams with losing records in 2010: 12
Vs teams in the AL Central: 16
March 31-April 3 vs Los Angeles – The Angels are being picked by many experts to win the AL West this year and will provide an immediate test for the Royals this season. That being said, the subtext that everyone in Kansas City is talking about revolves around the “Double Header” being billed on April 2nd. That night, following the game with the Angels, the Royals top two farm teams will do battle at Kauffman Stadium, allowing the fans in Kansas City to get a glimpse of the future that lays ahead of the franchise.
April 14-21 vs Seattle and Cleveland – This may be the key week to the early season for the Royals. Some people are wondering if the Royals are not as bad as many are predicting them. If the Royals are to put together a successful season in the win-loss column, it will have to be solidified with wins over teams that are honestly worse than they are. This week projects as a battle between three teams that many pick to be the worst in the American League and will give the Royals an opportunity to prove that they are more than just going through the motions in 2011.
Key To a Hot Start:
The Royals do not need a hot start. The team needs to be patient and develop their young players. If they are to separate themselves from the lower half of the American League, they need to take advantage of games against Cleveland, Seattle, and Detroit. They will be tested early by the likes of Minnesota and Chicago and coming away with a .500 record against those teams will go a long way in to convincing fans that the team has improved.
At the end of April:
If the Royals have 14+ wins… they have stepped up and shown that they are not to be considered with the worst teams. Fourteen wins is not out of reach in April, looking at the schedule. If they win each series with Cleveland, Seattle, and Detroit they will have won ten games. A single win against the Angels, White Sox, Twins, and Rangers will get them to fourteen wins and a record that is above .500.
If the Royals are .500… fans have to be somewhat pleased. No one expects much from this team and playing that well in the opening month might turn some heads.
If the Royals are below .500… then they are playing as most have predicted. Again, this season is not about winning but developing. The team will look to grow young players into consistent stars while looking to veterans to nurture the changing atmosphere. The team needs to play with heart, determination, and show a solid footing to be successful. This season cannot be judged by the record books, no matter what statisticians tell you.
Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
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