Way Too Early 2012 Predictions: Pitcher of the Year

In the second edition of “Way Too Early 2012 Predictions,” it’s time to pick the Royals’ Pitcher of the Year.

Coming into this offseason, it was obvious that starting pitching needed to be the main focus. The Royals acquired Jonathan Sanchez in a trade with the Giants and signed Bruce Chen to a two year deal, but there hasn’t been a major upgrade over last season’s rotation just yet.

Essentially, the Royals swapped out Jeff Francis in favor of Jonathan Sanchez. While that is a definite improvement, it might not be the answer Royals fans wanted.

It’d be great if Jonathan Sanchez was an ace and a definite lock for pitcher of the year next year, but he’s not. He has a lot to prove before the Royals can say he is anywhere close to an ace, or even a number three starter for that matter.

Last year, Sanchez struggled going 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA. He battled injuries throughout the season, so a healthy Sanchez could look more like his 2010 season: 13-9, 3.07 ERA, 205 K’s. That type of performance would put him at the top of this list for sure, but I’d like to at least see him pitch healthy for 10 starts before handing him the award.

Right now, it looks like Luke Hochevar will once again take home my award for Pitcher of the Year. I gave it to him for the 2011 season and I am sticking with him for next year.

Greg Holland, Joakim Soria, Danny Duffy, and Aaron Crow got some serious consideration for this prediction, but I still have to go with Hochevar.

Call me crazy, but I still believe he can finally turn into that pitcher that everyone hoped he could be when the Royals drafted him 1st overall in 2006.

He seemed to turn a corner last year when he “figured something out” with then-pitching coach Bob McClure. He had a stretch after the All-Star break where he looked like he should have been playing in said game.

After his red-hot stretch after last year, Hochevar had me thinking he could be our ace this year. His streak didn’t last too long, but he still finished the year much better than he started.

Right now, it looks like he will once again take the mound on Opening Day 2012. He will be the ace and he will be the Royals’ best pitcher next year.

But like I said, call me crazy.

Royals Tweet of the Week

It's always baseball season! RT @: Seventy days until pitchers and catchers report. #Chiefs #Tricycle < #Royals #Mission2012
Nate Green

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