If you’re a Royals fan, you probably already know that with the spring come projection systems that aren’t kind to the Royals.
This year, Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA system predicts a 75-87 record for the Royals. FanGraphs’ is a little better, at 77-85.
That would be a big step back for the defending World Series champions. But what about some of the national experts? There is reason for hope.
Here is what Dayn Perry of CBSSports.com wrote about the Royals: “Whatever the underlying reasons, I’m more bullish on the Royals than the forecasting systems are. It’s going to be a tough AL Central in 2016 — the Indians are for real, the Twins have lots of young talent, and the White Sox and Tigers are substantially improved — but I still see the Royals as getting to a win total at least in the mid- to upper-80s, which, at worst, will put them in the AL wild card fray. For something firmer, I’ll say they repeat as AL Central champs, albeit not with 95 wins and especially not by the comfy 12-game margin that they enjoyed in 2015.”
CBSSports.com’s Jonah Keri wrote: “The AL Central once again looks like a division with plenty of talent, but also significant flaws on each of the five teams. In the Royals’ case, that’s a mediocre-to-weak starting rotation, something that didn’t affect the team’s ability to win in 2014 and 2015. KC’s four division rivals might simply have slightly bigger weaknesses to overcome.”
Ben Reiter at Sports Illustrated picked the Royals to win the AL Central with a 90-72 record. He wrote: “(Alex) Gordon’s return means that the Royals will be able to win in the same way as last year. They’ll do it via a relentless lineup, one led not only by (Lorenzo) Cain and Gordon but also by finally bloomed former top prospects Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas — one that refuses to wilt to modern peer pressure that suggests striking out is okay. … Projections systems still don’t like it — Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA system has Kansas City winning just 75 games — but two straight World Series appearances seem like reasonable evidence that the Royals’ style works.”
USA Today forsees an 84-78 record. Gabe Lacques wrote: “A slower start — the title hangover is real — and no July cavalry means a near-miss on a third consecutive playoff appearance.”
Craig Calcaterra of NBCSports.com picked the Royals to win the division, writing: “By now we all know the story of the Royals: they’re relentless, blah, blah, blah. As we noted at length last fall, however, they’re not touched by the hand of God or anything. They simply are blessed with a roster of many talented individuals who are well-suited for a high-contact, good running kind of game and that sort of thing plays very well in Major League Baseball’s current environment. There’s also a lot of big talk about how they’re magically well-suited to coming from behind and beating you late, but that’s not magic either. That’s because they have a fantastic bullpen which keeps games close and secures small leads and that sort of stuff tends not to be picked up on by the projection systems which are infamously bearish about the Royals in recent years.”