One week from now your 2017 Royals will be down in Surprise, AZ starting prep work for the upcoming season. This year’s team will look a little different from last year’s due to trades, free agent signings and a heartbreaking tragedy.
Spring training always brings a few shake ups and surprises but all players signed and trades likely concluded we can make a good guess at what the team will look like on opening day.
With zero games in the books here’s our best guess at the opening day line up and the 5-man starting pitcher rotation for 2017.
Leading Off – Alcides Escobar Short Stop
Love it or hate it the Royals have had their best success with Esky stepping to the plate. It’s been chronicled that he’s not the prototypical leadoff man. But with a familiar face batting behind him, perhaps he can recapture his 2015 form at the plate.
Batting 2nd – Mike Moustakas 3rd Base
Moose is back, and while he won’t play every day coming off his ALC tear, odds are the Royals putting him right back in the two hole where he had breakout success in 2015. If Moose picks up where he left off this could start a strong of hitters that no pitcher will feel great about seeing.
Batting 3rd – Lorenzo Cain Center Fielder
When healthy, there are few better hitters. The power speed combo Cain provides works extremely well for the RBI guy the Royals need. His speed also makes him a 2-out threat to get on base and get himself into scoring position for the clean-up man.
Batting 4th – Eric Hosmer 1st Base
We’d love to see Hos get more AB’s in the three spot but let’s not kid ourselves he’ll be the leading RBI guy for this team. His bat, built for both power and placement, should be a shoe in for 100 RBIs in a contract year.
Batting 5th – Salvador Perez Catcher
Salvy probably belong in the six or seven hole but Ned loves to go righty then lefty in his order. Salvy’s power numbers have gotten better every year in the league so he’s the perfect fail safe if Hos can’t get the job done.
Batting 6th – Brandon Moss Designated Hitter
Perhaps the Royals biggest offseason acquisition – Moss settles into the six spot. We could see him swapping spots with Salvy or even Cain later in the season but this is a good starting spot where he won’t feel immediate pressure to produce.
Batting 7th – Alex Gordon Left Fielder
Alex is due for a bounce back season. Even with his all-star pedigree he’s still a lower half hitter in this line up and that’s a good thing. The Royals have always tried to stack the back half of their lineup like a second lead off and Alex fits the lead off hitter mold.
Batting 8th – Jorge Soler Right Fielder
This one was tough as Paulo had a career year last year. But the Royals are obviously trying to ramp up the offense this year. Soler is a young player that will need a full season of AB’s to realize his full potential, hence why he gets the nod here.
Batting 9th – Cheslor Cuthbert 2nd Base
On the theme of improved offense Cheslor despite his defensive limitations gets put in the lineup for his bat. A .270 hitter with good strike out numbers is the perfect way to end the lineup strong.
Ace – Danny Duffy
Duh, The Royals paid him and not only is he the ace of the staff he might be the face of the franchise.
2nd Starter – Ian Kennedy
After a solid but not spectacular 2016 Kennedy slots into the number two spot. You know you’ll get the innings but whether those are 4.00 or 3.00 ERA could make or break the season.
3rd Starter – Nathan Karns
Call it a hunch but Dayton gets benefit of the doubt here. Karns seems like he might be the Royals trying to recreate Wade Davis, but remember Davis started in the rotation.
4th Starter – Jason Hammel
Hammel’s 5.5 innings per game last year moves him to the four spot. Not and innings eater but hopefully the 2015 version of Chris Young.
5th Starter – Jason Vargas/Kyle Zimmer
Vargas will start the season as the fifth starter. This will be perfect for a guy coming off Tommy John surgery.He won’t have to pitch every five days at the beginning of the season. But as the Royals push for the playoffs don’t be surprised if they call up their more talented arms in August and September.
These are our best guesses for the Opening Day lineup. Make sure you get tickets to see if our projections were right for the Royals first home stand. You can get tickets for all Royals game at TicketsForLess.com.