Royal Growing Pains In Kansas City

I picked the Royals to finish second in the AL Central division this season. Seems absurd, right? Kansas City brimmed with optimism before the start of the regular season, with an impressive young cadre of promising players both at the major league level and in the minor leagues. 2012 was supposed to be the year of the team’s rebirth. Things aren’t going exactly to plan.

The Royals’ 5-3 Sunday loss to Toronto was its 10th straight. Kansas City now has six double-digit losing streaks in eight years, as per CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler. Knobler points out that the last Yankees losing streak of 10 games or more was 99 years ago. ESPN Stats & Info points out that the Royals are the first team to drop its first nine home games since the 1995 Florida Marlins.

“This is not even a hole,” Royals designated hitter Billy Butler said after the game. “We finished 32 games under .500 (in 2009) That’s a hole.”

Things don’t usually bode well for a team that drops 13 of its first 15 games, including nine straight at home. Kansas City has scored the sixth fewest runs in baseball this season, are 24th in ERA and 26th in both WHIP and batting average against. There are encouraging signs with the young players, but breakout star Alex Gordon has had a horrible slump to begin the season and three members of the starting rotation have ERA’s as high as Luke Hochevar’s abysmal 5.87. Without Joakim Soria to lead the bullpen, the relief corps has the fifth worst ERA in baseball.

Kansas City’s youth movement will ultimately produce positive results. It just seems hard to believe that, at this point, 2012 is going to be that year.

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