The Royals started the 2012 season with hopes of contending in the AL Central, but early injuries to key players and a 12-game losing streak proved too much to overcome. They finished the year third in the division (72-90) behind the Tigers and White Sox.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Even in another 90-loss season, there were plenty of highlights. Royals beat writer Bob Dutton (@Royals_Report on Twitter) counts down his top five moments from 2012. We also asked for your memories from the Royals season by tweeting #royalsmoments.
5. Billy Butlers two-out, game-tying homer in the ninth on June 17 in St. Louis against Jason Motte. Sent the game into extra innings, where Yuniesky Betancourt became a hero. For me, it was the single most electrifying on-field moment of the year. Other candidates: Mike Moustakas throw on May 3 that preserved a victory over the Yankees; Royals hammering Justin Verlander on Aug. 28; walk-off victory over Milwaukee on June 14; Jeremy Guthrie carrying a no-hitter into the seventh on Aug. 19 against the White Sox and losing it on a controversial scoring call. But Butlers bomb was, for me, the clear winner.
4. Signing Salvy Perez, Alcides Escobar and Alex Gordon to long-term contracts in spring training. That underscored the clubs belief that this core group is capable of turning this franchise into a contender, along with validating, at least somewhat, ownerships willingness to keep this group intact. It also showed the players believe it can happen. And, finally, it set the stage for the recent offseason decisions.
3. The 12-game losing streak in April, including an 0-10 collapse in the first homestand. The Royals entered the season believing that, with a little luck, they could be a postseason contender. That hope effectively evaporated after that 12-game skid. A corollary here are the spring/early season injuries. The Royals lost Perez (in spring training) and Lorenzo Cain (game five) for extended stretches. Saw their All-Star closer, Joakim Soria, suffer a season-ending elbow injury in spring training. And lost Danny Duffy (mid-May) and Felipe Paulino (early June), their two most effective starters, to season-ending injuries. Way too much to overcome.
2. The trade with Tampa Bay. By surrendering Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi and two other prospects for James Shields and Wade Davis, the Royals put everyone on notice that they believe they can win in 2013. It was a seismic shift in the franchises approach from building for the future to the future is now.
1. All-Star Game. The defining moment was hearing 40,000 people chant Bil-ly But-ler on national TV (while ripping Robinson Cano for a perceived snub of Butler on the American League Home Run Derby team), but the entire three-day experience underscored that Kansas City is a baseball town thirsting for something to cheer about after 25 years of numbing, not-even-remotely-mediocre malaise. All of baseball got a glimpse of what could be in Kansas City. I think it had a profound effect on the front office and ownership, which contributed to the go-for-it trade and heightened payroll.