Originally written on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 3/13/13
Much was made of Kansas City's efforts to overhaul their rotation over the winter. They laid out a lot of money and prospects to bring in the likes of James Shields and Ervin Santana, so problem solved right? Well, maybe and maybe just that problem. The Royals have designs on making a run at the AL Central crown, but their problems run far deeper than a weak crop of starting pitchers. With their intense focus on upgrading their starting pitching, you might think that the Royals have the whole offense thing firmly squared away. You definitely wouldn't think that they had scored the third-fewest runs in the American League in 2012, which is exactly what their lineup did last year. Because of that my X-factor for the Kansas City Royals in 2013 is Eric Hosmer. While the rotation is full of new faces, the lineup that was one of the worst in the American League last season has none at all with the exception of new back-up catcher and new utility infielder. Unless you think George Kottaras and Elliot Johnson are going to somehow change the fortunes of the franchise, the Royals are going to have to hope that they get a lot of development from their incumbent starters. If there is one guy from that group who can show marked improvement and potentially carry the lineup on his back, it is Eric Hosmer. Everyone thought Hosmer would be that guy after a strong rookie campaign, but instead he got knocked flat on his ass by the dreaded sophomore slump, struggling to a meager .232/.304/.359 slash line. Not exactly the stuff of a franchise cornerstone and middle-of-the-order linchpin. But was it really a sophomore slump? Might it not have just been bad luck? As much of a cop out as that might sound like, there is some real evidence to suggest that Hosmer was merely snakebitten. The most glaring number with him was his .255 BABIP. That in and of itself does not prove bad luck, but when you consider that Hosmer hit almost the exact same percentage of line drives as the season before while lowering his infield flyball rate. He did see a modest rise in his groundball rate, but otherwise his batted ball profile was pretty much the same as his strong rookie campaign. Furthermore, Hosmer actually showed increased patience with his walk rate climbing from 6.0% to 9.4%. To be fair, his strikeout rate also increased slightly, but otherwise all the indicators suggest that Hosmer should have improved in 2012, not faceplanted. What Hosmer could've, would've and should've done is great and all, but the fact of the matter is that he did flop last season and that is going to have repercussions for this season. It is well-documented that throughout 2012, prompted by his struggles, Hosmer began incessantly tinkering with his swing to try and get back on track. That's the sort of behavior one often sees from someone who has had their confidence damaged by their struggles even though those struggles probably had less to do with a broken swing and more to do with him breaking a mirror while walking under a ladder indoors with an open umbrella as a black cat crossed his path. For 2013 though, the Royals need to break out the luck rabbit's foot and get Hosmer back on the path to stardom or all their off-season machinations to improve the roster will go for not. While their offense was pretty lousy last season, it looks as if it could be on the cusp of breaking out into a real potent lineup. Kansas City can count on a full season from rising star Salvador Perez and the reliable play of Alex Gordon and Billy Butler but after that things get murky. Lorenzo Cain is a popular candidate to have a breakout season... if he can finally stay healthy. Mike Moustakas has loads of potential, but he has a long way to go after posting a .296 OBP in 2012. Even if things break right and Perez, Cain and Moustakas take their game to the next level and Francouer can avoid being an out-machine, the lineup still needs more, especially from the heart of the order where Hosmer figures to be slotted. If he crashes and burns again in that role, he is going to drag the rest of that talented but tenuous lineup with him. If he reverts to his rookie form, then the Royals should be able to get by offensively. But if everything clicks and Hosmer turns into the monster that so many think he could be, then he could boost the KC offense into the upper half of the American League and maybe, just maybe put Dayton Moore's all-in moves of the off-season in a position to pay off.   Royals on TOC End of Season Postmortem 2013 Season Preview You May Say I'm a Dreamer 2013 Burning Question This Is My Nightmare 2013 X-Factor [follow]
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Nick Saban addresses rumors of interest in Longhorns job

Garoppolo back in spotlight after Brady suspension upheld

Tom Brady: I did nothing wrong, replaced a broken phone

49ers OC: Kaepernick didn’t regress as much as believed

John Calipari may coach Kentucky until he is 73

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Eric Berry cleared to practice with Chiefs

WATCH: Pedro Martinez's number retired in ceremony

Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia suspended 162 games for PEDs

Brady told staff to hand copy of game ball rules to officials

Phillies agree to send Jonathan Papelbon to Nationals

Report: Russell Wilson to end contract negotiations Friday

Key & Peele show SportsCenter if it was about teachers

Mets continue to act like a small-market team

What would a Cole Hamels trade look like?

Luther Campbell jabs FSU coach over decommitment

WATCH: Royals infielders combine for incredible play

Cowboys DE Jeremy Mincey to hold out of training camp

Terry Bollea's self-destruction: Hulkamania as social construct

Lou Holtz: ND has 'legitimate chance' to make playoff

Golfer Billy Hurley III asks for help finding missing father

Dismissed Clemson DE tweets he hates cops after arrest

Smith to report to camp, no charges filed for child abuse

Angels stockpile outfielders, acquire Murphy and DeJesus

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Mets still act like a small-market team

Tom Brady: I did nothing wrong

NFL upholds Tom Brady's suspension, legal battle likely

Cardinals hire first female NFL coach

Larry Bird: Michael Jordan would kill me in 1-on-1 now

Seau family: HOF broke their word

Kobe to see time at power forward next year

Mike Pettine not ruling out Manziel

Galette appears to unload on Payton

Dez Bryant in 'financial distress' before signing new deal

Top 10 CFB coaches on the hot seat

Was Popovich close to retiring last year?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker