While the Chicago White Sox tied the small-market Minnesota Twins this evening for the AL Central lead at the end of regulation play in 2008, there was one bright ray of sunshine for me as an Ozzie Guillen team took another breath for this season. The 2008 Kansas City Royals finished with a 75-87 record, beating the Detroit Tigers by one game for fourth place in the division. While playing their best baseball in September the Royals finished ahead of pre-season World Series favorite Detroit. This is a small victory that will most likely go unnoticed outside of the Kansas City clubhouse and this blog, but I think that is quite an amazing feat. Let's compare the lineups towards the end of the season:
C - J. Buck; 1B - R. Shealy; 2B - A. Callaspo; 3B - A. Gordon; SS - M. Aviles; LF - M. Teahen; CF - D. DeJesus; RF - J. Guillen; DH - B. Butler
C - D. Ryan; 1B - M. Cabrera; 2B - P. Polanco; 3B - C. Guillen; SS - E. Renteria; LF - M. Thames; CF - C. Granderson; RF - M. Ordonez; DH - G. Sheffield
It is unreal that the Royals put together a team to beat that offense, however it may be because the Royals offense is improving steadily. With a strong September from Alex Gordon, Ryan Shealy and Mark Teahen, the nucleus to the offense may finally be growing together. While it is someone in their lineup steps up and becomes their big bat, the Royals will be serious contenders in 2009. Alex Gordon has been tabbed as having five tool potential and Billy Butler has put up some amazing numbers in the minors. Each player has a great chance to become offensive stars next season. With the average age of 27.11 years old, the Royals are a young team that obviously took large strides from 2007 (.261) to 2008 (.269) offensively. While more work is necessary, this team has the look of the 2008 Rays with a great closer in Joakim Soria and 3-4 quality starters. An early warning -- watch out for the 2009 Royals.