The Royals 2012 season comes to a merciful end

Many fans hoped the Royals might make the playoffs, or at least finish at or above .500. But it didn’t end up that way, finishing the season at 72-90 and third in the A.L. Central. They improved on their 71-91 2011 record, but the season was still a disappointment.

A lot of things didn’t go the Royals way. A 12 game losing streak in April killed any momentum the team had and the recent six game losing streak stopped any hope of finishing at or near .500. Pitchers Danny Duffy, Felipe Paulino, Blake Wood and Joakim Soria had season ending Tommy John surgery. Injuries to key position players Lorenzo Cain and Salvador Perez for most of the season made fans wonder, “what if they were healthy the whole season?”

The Royals off season acquisitions were either traded or released. The team traded Jonathan Broxton for two minor leaguers, The San Francisco Giants claimed Jose Mijares off waivers, Jonathan Sanchez was traded for Jeremy Guthrie and the Royals came to their senses and released Yuni Betancourt.

The 2012 Royals offense had some talent and potential, but failed to live up to it. Before Wednesday night’s finale against the Detroit Tigers, the Royals were fourth in the A.L in batting average (.265), 12th in scoring runs (676), 12th in RBI (643) and tied for last place with the Minnesota Twins in home runs (131). The team could hit, but not drive in runs.

A season long slump by Eric Hosmer, the regressing to the mean play of Jeff Francoeur and an up and down season by Mike Moustakas didn’t deliver the offense the Royals needed.

The offense had some bright spots. Billy Butler led the team in batting average (.312), RBI (107) and home runs (29). Alex Gordon led the team in doubles (51) and runs (93). Alcides Escobar led the team in stolen bases (35).

The Royals defense was good, especially the outfield. The Royals led the MLB in outfield assists with Francoeur leading the MLB with 19 and Gordon in second with 17 assists. Moustakas, Escobar and Chris Getz provided solid infield defense.

The Royals bullpen was an asset, with a collective 3.19 ERA, a 2.36 SO/BB ratio and opponents hitting .250. Greg Holland proved he had what it takes to be a closer and Kelvin Herrera, Tim Collins and Aaron Crow were the workhorses of the bullpen.

The starting rotation was the Royals weakness. They had a collective 5.04 ERA, a 2.04 SO/BB ratio and opponents hitting .283. Only Luis Mendoza and Jeremy Guthrie had a sub 5.00 ERA and the bright spot of the rotation, Guthrie, only started 14 games.

The Royals had three winning months in May, June and August with a combined 46-37 record. But in the three losing months of April, July and September, they had a 25-52 record. if the Royals went .500 during their 12 and six game losing streaks, going 9-9, they would have 81 wins. Not enough to make the playoffs, but enough to finish at .500 since 2003.

The 2012 season is over and once again the Royals and their fans look forward to next year. But if you watched the team this season, you saw some glimmer of hope of a better future. The lineup is pretty much set, young and have room to improve. The bullpen was solid as always. And if Royals owner David Glass keeps his promise to spend money on starting pitching, the Royals may have a chance.

The Royals begin the 2013 season April 1 against the Chicago White Sox. Will 2013 be the year the Royals turn the corner and become contenders? I hope so, because it will be a lot more fun writing about the Royals when they’re winning.

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