Can any season for the Kansas City Royals, who have only finished above .500 once since strike-shortened 1994, really be considered a disappointment? Maybe not, but last year was close.
Last year was supposed to be the year the the Royals perennial rebuilding efforts finally paid off. Vegas gave them an over/under of 80.5, giving them even odds at that elusive .500 year. It wasn't to be. Their offense was below average (20th in runs scored) and their pitching was worse (23rd in combined ERA). They won only 72 games. Their starting rotation was especially bad, posting an ERA of 5.01.
That's the area they attacked this offseason. Last year's Opening Day starter, Bruce Chen, goes into the season and their fifth starter. A trade with the Rays netted them James Shields and Wade Davis. Another trade with the Angles brought them Ervin Santana. And they re-signed Jeremy Guthrie, who was outstanding for them after a midseason trade with the Rockies.
Despite all those improvements, Vegas is cautious, giving them an over/under of 78.5, two games worse than they expected last year. It looks like those that bet the over last year may need a little reassuring to make the same bet this year. I don't blame them. The Royals were 11 games under .500 by April 24th last year. Five months is a long time to wonder why the hell you thought this year would be any different for the Royals.
For the record, I think this year might just be different. If I had to choose one way or the other, I'd take the over on that 78.5, but .... there is just no way I'm laying money on that number. Let me rephrase that: there is no way I'm laying money on that franchise. I expect the good people of Missouri understand. After all, they are the "Show Me" state.
Rather than making you lay down real money, I created a survey widget below that you can use to "bet," putting your mouth where your money is. I hope it works on this site. If not, you can head over to Twins Daily and vote there.