TMS Team Preview: The 2016 Kansas City Royals

April 12, 2016 | Comments (1) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Over the coming weeks, Thunder Matt's Saloon will have previews of all 30 MLB teams. We're starting at the bottom and working our way up based on the current Vegas odds for winning the 2016 World Series.

We're into the second week of the season and we're still slogging our way through this shit. Today we're gonna talk about the Royals.
Gee, thanks gramps. Couldn't splurge on some Werthers?
2015 Finish: 95-67 (1st Place in AL Central)

So Long: Jeremy Guthrie, Alex Rios, Jonny Gomes, Wandy Rodriguez, Greg Holland

Welcome: Joakim Soria, Dillon Gee, Chien-Ming Wang, Ian Kennedy

Opening Day Lineup
1. Alcides Escobar, SS
2. Mike Moustakas, 3B
3. Lorenzo Cain, CF
4. Eric Hosmer, 1B
5. Kendrys Morales, DH
6. Alex Gordon, LF
7. Salvador Perez, C
8. Omar Infante, 2B
9. Reymond Fuentes, RF

Starting Rotation: Edinson Volquez, Chris Young, Kris Medlen, Yordano Ventura, Ian Kennedy
Setup: Joakim Soria
Closer: Wade Davis

Last year saw the Royals return to the World Series and do the one thing the Cubs could not, dispatch the Mets. On offense the main core stayed in tact from 2014, and in the case of younger stars Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, they took a leap forward in their development. Add in what turned out to be a savvy pick up in DH Kenrdys Morales and the Royals were off and running.

That solid offense coupled with a great defense helped carry what was rather mediocre starting pitching. When Edinson Volquez is your "ace" you're obvious winning games in spite of your rotation. KC's bullpen was another strong point however and often locked things down when their offense came up with some much needed run support. The fact that setup man/closer Wade Davis won 8 games is saying something. That's more than Danny Duffy and he made 24 starts.

So now it's 2016 and they've got a ring. Can they repeat? Sure, why not? They managed to win last year and the formula hasn't changed. The main lineup is pretty much the same save for no more Alex Rios, which isn't a bad thing. Once Jarrod Dyson comes back from injury he should fill that hole fine. Re-signing Alex Gordon this offseason was a solid move and one that I think speaks volumes of this organization. It tells their fans that they're committed to winning for the long haul. The rotation is still sort of a hot mess, but if Yordano Ventura can mature a bit more he'll do well. Volquez and Kennedy are serviceable enough. The magic appears to have worn off Chris Young however. But if Kris Medlen can come around and either Dillon Gee or Chien-Ming Wang have something in the tank they should hold their own again. Enough at least to get to that bullpen which once again will be one of the best in the league. Wade Davis replaces Greg Holland as an elite closer and former longtime KC closer Joakim Soria has returned to set him up. Luke Hochevar, who was once laughable as a starting pitcher has emerged as a pretty damn good reliever.

The Royals should be in line to make another run for the postseason but will certainly have their work cut out for them. They're a classic small-market makes good story, and unlike the Pirates, they're not in the Cubs division so I don't hate their fucking guts.

Reason to Watch: Eric Hosmer. Long touted as a superstar in the making, Hosmer is just now starting to fill out those big shoes folks made for him. He's won 3 consecutive Gold Gloves and posted career bests last season in runs, RBI, and OPS. Now entering his age 26 season, Hosmer is just reaching his peak years.

Reason To Drink: This rotation. Holy shit. I've already talked about it but I'm not kidding here. Last season the pitching staff as a whole had a 3.73 ERA which was 3rd best in the AL. But when you look at their 4.04 FIP you start to see the problem. This defense bailed them out quite a bit. In fact the -0.30 difference between them was the worst in the AL. The good news is that same stellar defense is around, so fear not Royals fans. Your gold glovers will bail you out those days when Ian Kennedy looks like shit.
Volquez's fivehead is on point.
The Fans: Solid group of people and incredibly loyal to their team. I recall back in 2002 I was in Kansas City for a trip and ran into some fans watching the game at a bar. We had the following exchange.
Me: "Who is that pitching? Dan Reichert?"
Dude: "Yeah, and he's pitching well. You got a problem with that?"
Me: "Uh, no. I was just asking."
Despite the hostile first impression I talked to the guy some more as well as some other folks there. They all followed the Royals intensely and would take a bullet for their team no matter how awful they were. Keep in mind this was 2002 as well. They lost 100 games that year and had been dogshit for nearly a decade at that point. These folks lived and died by their team no matter what and I couldn't have been more impressed. Things definitely got worse before they got better too, but now that they've become relevant again, there's an entire city more than eager to embrace them, and that's pretty cool to see.

Their Worst Contract: Not a whole lot of contracts here I'd call bad at all. That Ian Kennedy deal is probably the most excessive and probably won't be of much value in the last couple years. But even then at most it's $16.5 million a year.

Fantasy Standout: Eric Hosmer. He's pretty good.

Fantasy Bust: Omar Infante. Why is he still alive, let alone on a fantasy roster? Actually he's probably not on a fantasy roster. Yep, a quick look at Yahoo shows he's only 1% owned in all leagues. That's still 1% too many. I'm gonna create one of those ad campaigns like they have against smoking. None Percent Infante in 2016!
I think this will really resonate with the Millennials
The Pop Culture Equivalent To This Team Is: That TV show you started watching from the beginning and really liked. So you keep telling your friends about it and they ignore you for the most part. Then by the third season it suddenly gets all the critical and mainstream acclaim you've been hoping for. Suddenly you feel justified in bugging everyone to watch all that time. All your friends can't shut up about it now. But then you start to tire of it. People are asking you if you watch it and you start copping a snarky attitude. Pretty soon you begin to resent the show you loved. Eventually you stop watching it. Soon after you quit your job and begin living on the streets. Life has no purpose any more. You scavenge for food in dumpsters. Last night you fought a raccoon over half a bag of Doritos.

Wait, where the fuck was I going with this?


Rich Funk @ 9:36 PM, April 12, 2016

I'll fill your hole fine.