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Detroit Tigers: Five Bold Predictions for AL Central

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Mar 11, 2015; Surprise, AZ, USA; Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer (35) strikes out against the San Diego Padres in the fourth inning during a spring training game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Royals will win the division

It’s tough to get a read on the Kansas City Royals. They didn’t even win their division last season but steam rolled through the American League and finish 90 feet away from tying the Giants in the bottom of the ninth in Game 7 of the World Series.

The Royals will miss what ace James Shields gave the team in the locker room, setting the tone for the staff by logging 227 innings and posting a 3.21 ERA with 180 strikeouts, but the loss has been blown a little bit out of proportion. Shields was awful during the postseason, posting a 6.12 ERA, and Kansas City came within a game of winning the World Series despite that horrible ERA from their ace.

Kansas City also lost Billy Butler and Norichika Aoki, but the Royals signed Alex Rios and Kendrys Morales to replace them. The offense could be much better if first baseman Eric Hosmer improves.

The 25-year-old hit .270 with just nine home runs and 58 RBI in 2014 after he hit .302 with 17 home runs and 79 RBI in 2013. Hosmer turned it on in October, though, hitting .351, so if he could hit like that or closer to the way he did in 2013, the Royals offense will be much better.

Finally, the bullpen was the strength of the team last season and that is still in place. Greg Holland had a 1.44 ERA and 46 saves, Wade Davis allowed an incredible eight runs in 72 innings pitched and Kelvin Herrera also supported an ERA below 1.50. If those guys have stellar seasons again, the Royals will be as good as anyone in the division.

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