Team: Kansas City Royals
Record (games back): 43-49 (8 GB)
Biggest Surprise of 1st Half:
For a time in June, the Kansas City Royals pitching staff owned the best ERA in the American League. That’s quite saying something for a group that ended last season in shreds. By the end of 2012, the Royals rotation featured Bruce Chen (5.07 ERA / 1.37 WHIP), Luke Hochevar (5.37/1.42), Luis Mendoza (4.23/1.42), Jeremy Guthrie (a respectable 3.16/1.13), and rookie Will Smith (5.32/1.61).
Then General Manager Dayton Moore got active in the offseason, raiding the team’s farm system to obtain Ervin Santana from the Los Angeles Angels and James Shields from the Tampa Bay Rays, braving the ire of fans who saw consensus Minor League Player of the Year Wil Myers go to Tampa. Moore’s gambit paid off as Shields (3.21/1.23) and Santana (3.37/1.11) have anchored the rotation. This also enabled the team to move Hochevar (2.16/0.90) and Chen (2.41/1.46) to the bullpen where they have been effective.