Injuries and underperformance dashed Royals' modest hopes

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

The Kansas City Royals' slogan entering 2012 was "Our Time." After a 12-game losing streak in April, that slogan was abruptly removed from the club's marketing campaign.
The Royals' high expectations -- high by Kansas City standards is a .500 season -- were based on first baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas having super sophomore seasons and right-hander Luke Hochevar having a breakout season to finally justify being the first overall pick in the 2006 draft.
Hosmer went hitless in his final 18 at-bats to drop his average to .232 and missed the final six games with a small right rotator cuff tear.
Moustakas hit .267 with 15 home runs, 47 RBI and an .817 OPS in 79 games before the All-Star break. In 70 games after it, Moustakas' numbers tailed off to .211-5-26 with a .586 OPS.
Hochevar won just one of his final 11 starts and finished with an 8-16 record and a 5.73 ERA. He finished second in the majors in losses, while his ERA was next to the worst in the majors for qualifying pitchers (162 innings minimum).
While the Royals were nearly injury-free in 2011, they compiled a lengthy disabled list in 2012. Four pitchers -- Danny Duffy, Joakim Soria, Blake Wood and Felipe Paulino -- all required Tommy John surgery.
Starting catcher Salvador Perez suffered a knee injury in spring training and didn't play until June 22. Perez's absence was a big blow offensively and defensively. Second baseman Chris Getz missed the final six weeks with a broken left thumb.
The rotation remains an Achilles' heel. The Royals lack a true No. 1 starter -- journeyman left-hander Bruce Chen was the 2012 opening day starter while Hochevar drew that assignment in 2011. If the Royals are to become a playoff contender in 2013, they need to add not one, but two quality starters.
If the Royals could obtain a true ace -- e.g., Zack Greinke -- via free agency, it would be like manna falling from heaven. A No. 1 starter costs mammoth bucks and owner David Glass has not traveled that path in past years.
The bullpen is full of young power arms. Even after the team lost Soria and traded Jonathan Broxton on July 31 to the Cincinnati Reds, the bullpen did not miss a beat. Greg Holland proved to be a capable closer the final two months. Kelvin Herrera is a top-notch setup man with an overpowering fastball. Tim Collins set a club record for strikeouts by a left-hander. Aaron Crow was an All-Star pick in 2011.
Billy Butler hit .313 and set career highs in hits, home runs and RBI. He is only 26 and could improve on those numbers. Alex Gordon proved his 2011 season was not a fluke, having another solid year in 2012 with a major-league-leading 51 doubles and a .294 batting average.
Shortstop Alcides Escobar is a Gold Glove candidate and his bat came around with a .293 average.
Second base and center field -- the same questions marks the Royals had entering this season -- remain questions as the season ends. Lorenzo Cain could be back in center, but injuries limited him to 61 games.

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