While most of the focus of the AL Central has been focused around the Tigers and Indians, one team that fans shouldn’t count out is the Kansas City Royals. They finished a strong 2013 season with a record of 86-76, and are hungry for the postseason. The team has a slew of good young players and a decent rotation that is headed up by James Shields.
The Royals have been steadily climbing the ranks of the AL Central, and no longer have the stigma of a bad team. Only a few years ago the Royals were trading away their best players like Carlos Beltran and Zack Greinke. Their strategy has been different since then, and now have a roster ripe with young talent after trading away those big time players. Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon, and Billy Butler make up a formidable middle of the order trio, and have most recently coughed up top prospect Wil Myers in order to finally get that top of the rotation pitcher in Shields. The rest of the rotation has solid starters like Jason Vargas, Bryce Chen and Jeremy Guthrie. The fifth spot is up for grabs, and the Tribe got a look at one of the competitors last year, Yordano Ventura. Ventura faced the Tribe on 08/17/13, a game the Tribe won 5-3. Ventura, however, looked good flashing a high 90s fastball. Whomever does win the spot, he will round out a decent Kansas City rotation.
Shields is a free agent after this year, so most are saying the time for the Royals to make their run is now. Shields is their Ace and only legitimate top of the order pitcher. Without him, it would be extremely difficult for their rotation to hold up. Regardless, it is a talented group that should push for a postseason birth. Last year’s Indians team showed that a mediocre roster can surprise and make the playoffs. The Tribe and Tigers should watch out, because this team is desperate for the playoffs.