I have lived in Kansas City for 11 years and only 1 of those years have they even been relevant on a national level (and even that was due to just one long winning streak). Much of the water cooler talk doesn’t center around playoff chances, but rather simply national relevance. The past few years that conversation hasn’t sounded good. But then 2011 happened. The beginning of the year didn’t appear to be anything special (though a propensity for come from behind victories was nice, albeit a short-lived one), but as the year progressed and more and more of the promised youthful talent was called up, fans could begin seeing the possibilities. Opponents no longer were completely giddy at the proposition of playing the Royals. And now, with the year behind us we can look and see that this team has an offense that is not only serviceable, but is actually in the top 1/3 in the entire American League! Ah, I heard the skeptics giggle… here are the statistical rankings for the Royals last year and this year:
So there is clear improvement happening offensively. In addition, the youth movement seems to have finally landed. The everyday lineup over the last couple months of the season was made up of players with the following ages: 21, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 27. It is highly likely that the numbers they put up will actually continue to improve in the coming years as they move more towards their prime. Also if you take the top 5 batters in the lineup and average them you end up with 5 guys that hit .296 with 44 doubles, 3 triples, 21 home runs, 93 RBI, and 15 stolen bases. That is truly a core of a lineup that can compete in the American League and may finally actually deserve to have a hometown All-Star next summer at the K.
So to answer my own headline… Yes, Virginia there is Reason for Hope.
p.s. Yes, I blatantly ignored the fact that the Royals are in desperate need of 2 front line starting pitchers before playoff possibilities can even be considered… we’ve got a half full glass that I’m nursing over here…