Tag Archive | "Set In Stone"

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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Two Wild Card Teams From Each League? No Thanks

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig is toying with the idea of adding two additional playoff teams to the mix next year, bumping the field up while potentially watering the competition down. The concept hasn’t been set in stone, but the most likely scenario would involve each league getting an extra wild card berth. The two wild cards teams in each league would play each other in a best of three series, the winners move on and the playoffs as we know them today begin.

Commisioner Selig

If the playoff expansion were in effect this year, the Cardinals would be right in the thick of things for the final National League playoff spot. While that would be great for Cardinals fans, count me as part of the crowd that says “thanks, but no thanks.”

Why don’t I like the idea? For starters, I think it’s unfair. It is absolutely ridiculous to have teams play 162 games only to have their fate decide in a one (or more likely three) game series. Take the standings this year as an example:

In the American League, the wild card leading Red Sox are on pace for 99 wins. The Rays are next in line, on pace for 88 wins. Think about that: Boston would have to face a team in the same division, 11 games behind them, in a crap-shoot three game series where anything and everything can go wrong. In the blink of an eye, their season could be over.

In the National League, it’s not much better. The 96-win Braves would have to play the 86-win Giants in a three game playoff… the same team that ousted them last year in a best of 5.

Did I mention that both Boston and Atlanta just so happen to have the 2nd best records in their respective leagues? With the new playoff format, it wouldn’t matter. So what would/should be a #2 seed with home field advantage in the NLDS and a “bye” in the “wild card round” would instead be thrown into a best of 3 with a team that was basically only slightly above mediocre the past six months. It’s just not fair.

The other reason I wouldn’t be all too thrilled about the 5th playoff spot is because frankly neither the Cardinals, Giants, Rays, or Angels particularly deserve to go to the playoffs, at least that would be the case this year. Typically in baseball, the motto is “90+ wins and you’re in.” This year, we’re on pace for 8 teams to have 90+ wins… funny how that works out, no? Obviously, there are exceptions to every rule (see: the 83 win World Champion Cardinals of 2006) and that’s why you won’t hear me say I wouldn’t want to see the Cardinals make it to the playoffs this year. Saying something like that is simply ridiculous. If the playoff field does expand to five teams in each league next year, I do not expect any fans of the 5th team in to be making apologies or wish they weren’t in for fear of embarrassment. Sports are crazy. If you get in the field and anything can happen. Already this year we’ve seen Virginia Commonwealth University go from “last 4 in” and a play-in game in the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament to the Final Four… and the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks come within a touchdown of hosting the NFC Championship game. I already talked about the 83-win Cardinals winning it all.

The “anything’s possible” factor is the only redeeming quality about commissioner Selig’s plan to expand the playoff field. But the fairness-factor isn’t quite up to par. Thanks, but no thanks, Bud.

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