Predictions for the 2018 Kansas City Royals

Opening Day for Major League Baseball is quickly approaching. My favorite team, the Kansas City Royals (probably) won’t be very good this year, or so the projections say.

The Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm (PECOTA) projections have the Royals finishing with a miserable 66-96 record, which would tie the Miami Marlins for the worst record in Baseball.

The Royals have been known to defy the projections from PECOTA though. Last year, the Royals were projected to win 71 games and finish last in the division. They ended up winning 80 and finished third. In 2016, the Royals were projected to win 76 games and finish last in the division. The Royals ended up finishing with 81 wins and were third in the division. Most notably, in 2015, the Royals were only projected to win 72 games. Well, the Royals proved they were much better, finishing 95-67, good for first place in the division and first in the American League, which helped them secure their second ever World Series championship in franchise history with a 4-1 series victory over the New York Mets.

Since PECOTA projected the Royals to win 66 games this year, I’m going to predict that they will win a few more games than that. While I do not think the Royals will make the playoffs this year, I do believe that they will finish with a 75-87 record. I think the Royals could maybe win around 83 games compete for a wild card berth to get into the postseason in the very best case scenario, barring any major injuries to the rotation or lineup. I do not think the Royals are a 66-win team that the computers are projecting. However a worst-case scenario could put the Royals near the bottom of the MLB in wins because they may be hit with the injury bug again and be forced to play some of their prospects which aren’t ready to play at the Major League level yet. This idea is reinforced by some of the Royals recent signings, as many thought prospects like Bubba Starling, Hunter Dozier, and Adalberto Mondesi might be in the Opening day lineup. Then again, Dayton Moore’s Royals teams have always exceeded expectations when it comes to the projections, as many major computer projections can never seem to figure the Royals out, as evidenced by the Royals continually “over-achieving” according to the PECOTA projections of recent years.

Furthermore, the PECOTA projections were released on February 7th of this year. Since then, the Royals have signed 1B Lucas Duda, OF Jon Jay, and re-signed 3B Mike Moustakas to one-year deals.

The one thing I didn’t like about the PECOTA projections was that they came out before all the remaining Free Agents were signed. For example, Alex Cobb and Jose Bautista still remain unsigned. Since the Royals signed these three players after the projections came out, I would expect the Royals win total to be higher than their given 66 win projection.

In addition, I believe the Royals have the potential to have a very solid pitching rotation.  Anchored by Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Jason Hammel, Nate Karns, and Jakob Junis, the rotation has potential. Duffy is an elite pitcher, and is the opening day starter.  I would argue he’d also be the #1 or #2 guy on most of, if not all, other major league teams because his stuff is THAT good. Ian Kennedy and Jason Hammel are solid pitchers when we look at the numbers over their careers. Nate Karns was on an absolute tear last year before he was injured, and Jakob Junis showed several times last year that he can become a very good pitcher in this league. The bullpen is where the Royals need work, but I still like Brandon Maurer, Kelvin Herrera, and Miguel Almonte, as they will  be the foundation of the Royals’ bullpen this year, barring any trades, free agent signings, or other roster moves before Opening Day.

I think the Royals’ Opening Day lineup could also looks something like this:

  1. Jon Jay – CF
  2. Whit Merrifield – 2B
  3. Mike Moustakas – 3B
  4. Salvador Perez – C
  5. Lucas Duda – 1B
  6. Alex Gordon – LF
  7. Jorge Soler – DH
  8. Alcides Escobar – SS
  9. Paulo Orlando – RF

Remember, Jorge Bonifacio was suspended 80 games because of a failed PED test. If he had not failed that drug test, he would probably be in for Paulo Orlando and he would be batting higher in the order.

Anyways, I believe the Royals can do a ton better than the projections, but at the same time, if they are hit with the injury bug like they were last year, they very well could end up with their projected win total of 66. However, I stand by my projection that the Royals will finish 75-87.

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