Tag Archive | "Playing The Game"

12 Reasons to be Excited for 2012

1) Eric Hosmer

This one’s too easy. One of the front-runners for 2011 A.L. Rookie of the Year, Hosmer is easily the Royals’ most exciting player to watch going into 2012. This year, he hit .293 with 19 Homeruns, 27 doubles, 78 RBI’s, and a .799 OPS. He did all this while only playing in 128 games. His defense was stellar and his baserunning turnEd Heads because of his size (6’4” 228 lbs). He is the complete package and it will be interesting to see what he can do in a full 162 game season.

2) Offense, Offense, Offense

While starting pitching is the biggest concern this offseason, the lineup looks set in stone. There could be a few order changes here and there, but the players should remain the same. The only thing that could be different is if Melky Cabrera gets traded and Lorenzo Cain replaces him.

This is what this offense’s 2011 MLB Ranks look like:

Runs Scored: 10th

Hits: 3rd

Doubles: 2nd

Triples: 2nd

RBI’s: 6th

Average: 4th

On-Base Pct: 8th

Slugging Pct: 7th

You would have to think that these numbers should only go up considering nobody in the lineup will be over 28 going into 2012.

3) Jeff Francoeur’s Arm

Seriously, how much fun is it to watch this guy? Frenchy is always wearing that grin that looks like it came straight off an 8-year-old’s face during a little league game. You can tell he genuinely loves playing the game and doing it for the Kansas City Royals.

His arm strength is nothing short of unbelievable and he has shown it throughout his 6 years (yes, only 6) in the league. If you aren’t pumped every time Francoeur gets the chance to throw out a runner then its pretty likely that you don’t like the sport of baseball.

4) Alcides Escobar’s Glove

It sure was nice to have a daily human highlight reel at the most important defensive position that isn’t called “catcher.” Rarely did a game go by without Escobar making one of those “Wow, did you see that?” plays in the field.

His glove saved more games in 2011 than most fans would realize and he will only be 25 at the beginning of next year. His ceiling is sky-high.

5) Salvador Perez’s Arm/Glove Combo

Speaking of amazing defense, what about Salvador Perez? He made an instant impact behind the plate picking off runners at first and third in his major league debut. He was also close to completing a catcher’s hat-trick by missing a pick-off at second base by about an inch. No other Royals catcher picked off a runner (did they even attempt one?) and Perez’s glove work was easily tops in the organization.

He will still only be 21 on Opening Day 2012 and it’s safe to say he isn’t too far away from winning a Gold Glove. Look for his pickoff numbers to increase from here on out.

6) Mike Moustakas’ Bat

Throughout Moustakas’ professional baseball career, he has struggled while moving up levels in the Royals’ farm system. He proved that to be no different when he jumped from Triple A to the Majors in early June. He went through major hitting droughts and his batting average got as low as .182 in the middle of August.

He ended the year with a .263 average, after having a tremendous September. He hit .352 for the month and recorded 4 HR’s, 6 doubles, and 8 RBI’s in the last 14 games of the season. His learning period is over and 2012 should give him a fresh start.

7) An Opening Day Lineup Kansas City can really get behind

2011 Opening Day Lineup

Mike Aviles 3B
Melky Cabrera CF
Alex Gordon LF
Billy Butler DH
Kila Ka’aihue 1B
Jeff Francoeur RF
Alcides Escobar SS
Matt Treanor C
Chris Getz 2B

2012 (Projected) Opening Day Lineup

Alex Gordon LF
Melky Cabrera CF
Billy Butler DH
Eric Hosmer 1B
Jeff Francoeur RF
Mike Moustakas 3B
Johnny Giavotella 2B
Salvador Perez C
Alcides Escobar SS

Looks a lot better, huh?

8) The “Old Vets”

Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Luke Hochevar, and Joakim Soria have been the only impact players that have been on the team since 2007. They all debuted in Kansas City during that year and are still major pieces going into 2012.

The leadership they have shown on and off the field were a major reason the youngsters made such big strides in 2011. Barring any trades, it will be fun to watch their continued success within this organization.

9) The “New Arms”

Aaron Crow, Greg Holland, and Danny Duffy highlight the young pitchers who will continue to make an impact in 2012. Crow had a slow finish but was still the Royals’ representative at the 2011 All-Star Game. He could find his new home being in the starting rotation rather than the bullpen next year, which would help fill a huge need for Kansas City.

Holland was the best bullpen pitcher this year and should be the anchor of next year’s bullpen as well. He was the guy to get the Royals out of late-inning jams and is expected to continue his role as “fireman” next year.

Duffy should only get better next year. He will provide the rotation a solid 3 or 4 starter, as he has the most electric stuff on the staff.

10) More filled seats at “the K”

If the last homestretch of the 2011 season is any indication of what 2012 will be like, Kauffman Stadium will be a brand new environment. Over the final 8 home games, there was an average of over 25,400 people. That includes two Tuesday games, and two Wednesday games, while the team was 20 games out of first place.

Expectations haven’t been higher since Dayton Moore arrived, and the fans are ready to have a contender. Kauffman will maintain a solid average throughout the season, as long as the team is winning. If that’s the case, all fans under the age of 25 will experience Royals’ games like they never have before.

11) New player walk-up songs

Let’s be real. At the beginning of the season, it was pretty cool hearing/watching Alex Gordon walk up to the plate to Drake’s “Over.” I’m not gonna lie, every time I hear “I Wanna Rock” or “Take Me Home Tonight,” I think of Jeff Francoeur. Billy Butler’s “Dirt Road Anthem” by Jason Aldean didn’t exactly get me pumped up, but it seemed like a song that “Country Breakfast” would sing at the top of his lungs in his car (or most likely truck).

By September though, these songs definitely wore out. It’s time for new, hopefully better, walk-up songs. It’s time to put 2011 in the rear-view mirror. Who has any suggestions for new player walk-up songs?

And last but not least…

12) The 2012 All-Star Game in Kansas City

Kansas City hasn’t been the center of the baseball world since Game 7 of the 1985 World Series. The Royals haven’t hosted the All-Star Game since 1973.

The All-Star festivities will bring new life to Kansas City and especially bring attention back to the Royals. Baseball hasn’t been the top sport in this town since the 80’s, but the tide could be turning.

With these 12 reasons listed above, how could you not be excited for the Royals’ future?

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2012 Anticipation

“Same old Royals.” “Another pointless September.” “Time to trade off our stars.” Those are the statements that you’ll hear from casual Royals fans every fall. Pessimism is normally at an all-time high, everyone is more focused on football, and nobody cares about making it out to Kauffman for a “meaningless” baseball game.

Things have been different this time around.

The hope and optimism surrounding “The K” during the current homestand hasn’t been higher since 2003 (the Royals last winning season). Fans are finally believing that the Royals are close to being a legitimate contender.

Right now, the Royals are 20 games under .500, 22.5 games back in the division, and way past being eliminated from playoff contention. It’s hard to see any fanbase in professional sports rallying behind a team with those numbers, but Royals fans did it during the past week. Kauffman Stadium attendance from last week (September 13th-18th) averaged out to 24,621 people per game. Last season during the same time period, attendance was at 16,952 people per game. The 2010 Royals had about the same record as the 2011 Royals (2010: 61-91, 2011:67-87) and both teams were eliminated from the playoffs right around the start of September.

The difference this year is that the players are still having a ton of fun on the diamond, which makes going to games much more exciting. The players on the Royals’ current roster genuinely love playing the game. Not only do they love playing the game, but they love winning, and they love winning together. They are a group of kids who really like each other and want to bring a winning team to Kansas City.

Does anyone think that Jose Guillen really liked playing for the Royals? How about Mike Jacobs? Ross Gload?

Doubtful.

And has any Royals team since 2003 been this excited about winning games in September?

Doubtful.

Has any Royals team had as much camaraderie and chemistry as this team besides in the ‘70’s or ‘80’s?

Highly doubtful.

Everyone on the roster is excited to be playing for this team in Kansas City. There’s no doubt that they are disappointed about how this season went, but you can sense that they are all anxious for 2012 to be here. The excitement on the field has brought excitement to the seats inside Kauffman Stadium. Expect the excitement to multiply in 2012.

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Winter Warm Up: Chemistry Lessons

Personality Goes a Long Way

Much was made about perceived chemistry and personality issues within the 2010 Cardinals’ clubhouse. Players and coaches alike insisted that was not the case, but clearly players like Lance Berkman and Ryan Theriot were brought in to reinstate a professional atmosphere and provide veteran leadership in addition to what they can contribute on the field.

Friend of the site Cadence with Chris Carpenter

That said, Kyle Lohse doesn’t allow the “chemistry” excuse to fly regarding last year’s team. “If we’re winning, chemistry is not an issue with that same group,” he said. “It’s only when the team is struggling as a whole and people are looking for reasons. I don’t think we had big cliques and everybody got along but when times are going tough of course it’s going to be quiet. I don’t think it was any one person or a few people’s problems.” He went on to say the players never really talked about any chemistry issues in the clubhouse; they were too worried about playing the game. “It’s not something that was in the forefront of our minds; we were worried about what we were doing that night and how to get out of those funks we were in.”

Although he acknowledged it is always a benefit to the team when quality veterans are brought in, Carpenter also refused to blame the 2010 squad’s shortcomings on team chemistry. “We had a good clubhouse last year and guys enjoyed being around each other…we just didn’t do the things we needed to do to win,” he said. “We had the talent, I think, we just didn’t play well. It was the same going into Spring Training last year, talking about the series against the Dodgers (in the 2009 NLDS). We had the talent to win then; we just didn’t play well. And we didn’t play well last year.”

When pressed about why the team didn’t play well in 2010, Carpenter offered a sentiment that is no doubt shared by the rest of the team, the entire coaching staff, the front office, and all of Cardinal Nation. “Last year was last year. I’m excited about spring and I’m excited about our players.”

Indeed it is exciting, because it is a new year…and pitchers and catchers report in less than a month.

Chris Reed is a freelance writer from Belleville, IL who also writes about the Cardinals for InsideSTL on Mondays and Bird Brained whenever he wants. Follow him on Twitter @birdbrained.

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