Feb 21, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher James Shields instantly became the ace of the staff after being acquired in the Wil Meyers trade. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

2013 AL Central Season Preview: Kansas City Royals

The 2012 season was a set-back for a rebuilding Kansas City Royals.  That said they managed to be competitive at times despite having a pitching staff that posted a 4.30 ERA. The starting staff featuring Tiger killer Bruce Chen was over matched in nearly every series. The Royals young core of position players also had a rough year .  Eric Hosmer experienced a sophomore slump hitting only .232 to go with 14 homers. Center fielder of the future Lorenzo Cain had an injury plagued 2012 managing to play only 61 games.  Mike Moustakas also failed to meet expectations producing Home Runs (20) but was undisciplined at the plate strikeing out 124 times with only 39 walks.

But that was last year.

The 2013 Kansas City Royals think they can win now.  And for good reason.

The club shoared up their 2013 starting rotation by pulling the trigger on arguably the biggest trade in Franchise History. The Royals traded the jewel of the their minor league system, Wil Meyers, to the Tampa Bay Rays.  The trade brought over two starting pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis who instantly became part of the starting rotation. Dealing Wil Meyers sends a clear message that the Royals are ready to start competing in the AL Central. Further, the trade illustrates the confidence the Kansas City Royals have in young guns Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer.

The addition of James Sheilds and Wade Davis finished the rebuild on a rotation that already added Ervin Santana in an earlier trade with the Los Angeles Angels.  James Shields becomes the ace of the staff bumping last years ace Bruce Chen all they way down to 5th starter, according to the Kansas City Royals Depth Chart. They are joined in the middle of the rotation by 2012 acquisition Jeremy Guthrie giving the Royals the best starting rotation they have had in recent years.  With a solid Royals defense behind them players like Guthrie and Santana could have career years.

The question that needs to be answered for the Kansas City Royals involves their offense.  Can Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer get back on track?  Can Lorenzo Cain play an entire season? Will the rest of the Kansas City line-up help Alex Gordon and Bill Butler produce runs. There is reason to be hopeful for Royals fans.  Hosmer played on Team USA in the World Baseball Classic and showed flashes of brilliance knocking in runs in key situations.  Cain is healthy and is projected to play the entire season.  Alex Gordon and Billy Butler have been consistent run producers in each of the last two seasons.  If they are able to put it together this Royals line-up will score some runs.

The Kansas City Royals don’t have enough to replace the Detroit Tigers as division favorite but they should have a winning season.  They have done more to improve their team than any other franchise in the AL Central.  Despite their line-up questions they have the second best starting  rotation in the division and play great defense.  They have talent on offense as well it is just a matter of finding consistency.  Prediction:  89-73 second place.

Tags: Baseball Kansas City Royals MLB

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