State of the Central: Kansas City Royals
Yet another American League Central team that has been hyped up as a contender in the last few offseasons, only to fail to live up to those expectations during the season. The Kansas City Royals may be the most talented team in the Central Division, yet at the same time may be the most underachieving team. And for a fanbase that has been hungry for playoff baseball, patience often wears thin in the dog days of summer.
2013 Reord: 38-42, 3rd in the AL Central, 5½ games out of first place (As of July 2nd)
What’s going right: The Royals have some good young players currently at the major league level, and more in the minor leagues. They have good pitching at the top end of the rotation in James Shields and Ervin Santana, who have pitched well despite their win-loss records. The addition of George Brett has helped invigorate the offense, which has been much better under his watch. Once the youngsters start to raise their performance level, this team could finally start to increase its performance to match the expectations passed down each offseason.
What’s going wrong: The offense has been a total disappointment. It shouldn’t be a surprise that if you fire your hitting coach midseason, the offense probably isn’t doing well. Granted George Brett has had a positive influence on the team since he was installed as the team’s hitting instructor, the Royals have enough young hitters that are underachieving that there is plenty of work yet for him to do. Eric Hosmer, who was billed as a potential MVP candidate last year has failed to live up to his lofty expectations. The Royals have also had trouble in the later innings with their bullpen, both in protecting leads and preserving tie games. The Royals lack the consistent play that would have them as a buyer at the trade deadline as well.
Trade Deadline Target: The most likely scenario for the Royals is they try to sell off a few players in the last year of their contracts that they don’t intend on resigning. Bruce Chen could be a late inning reliever targeted by some teams with a need for bullpen help.
Bold Prediction: The Royals will continue to struggle and will be out of the race by the Trade Deadline. They will find trade partners for Ervin Santana, Bruce Chen and Miguel Tejada. The Royals will finish in 4th place, leading to Ned Yost being relieved of his duties in the offseason and being replaced by….you guessed it….George Brett.