2015 American League Central Preview

6 of 6

Oct 28, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals third baseman

Mike Moustakas

(8) celebrates with teammates after hitting a solo home run against the San Francisco Giants in the 7th inning during game six of the 2014 World Series at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

1: Kansas City Royals (90-72)

How can you go against the club that came within one run of a World Series title?

Their historically good bullpen remains intact with Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland. Plus, they feature a lineup that returns Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer, ALCS MVP Lorenzo Cain and one of the game’s best young catchers in Salvador Perez.

Longtime Royals fan favorite and face of the franchise Billy Butler is gone, signing with the Oakland Athletics, but he was replaced by Kendrys Morales and the club added Alex Rios, who was a 20/20 player in 2012 and quietly swiped 42 bases in 2013.

(No, seriously, did anyone know he had 40+ bags two years ago?!)

The likely departure of starting pitcher James Shields certainly hurts the rotation, but “Big Game James” was anything but in the Royals pennant run, and Yordano Ventura seems poised to take over that ace spot in the rotation.

I think Kris Medlen could be the best under-the-radar signing across the bigs this winter. The Royals made the postseason as a wild card team a year ago; this year, they get there on the heels of a divisional title.