KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 15: Aaron Crow #43 of the Kansas City Royals throws in the ninth inning during a game against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on September 15, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Aaron Crow is hopeful about next season -- not only for his own sake in the hopes of landing one of the final starting spots in the Kansas City Royals rotation but for the team as a whole.
Crow is himself part of the hope that Royals fans have for 2012 and beyond. Crow represented the Kansas City Royals last season in the MLB All-Star Game -- the very game they host this season in 2012 -- as a reliever and the team hopes he can channel that success every fifth day in the rotation. If the team is going to make the jump from basement dweller to contender, it's going to take the pitchers catching up with the position players. Crow is well aware of that when he praises his teammates.
"The last 10, 15, 20 years, ever since George Brett retired, it's been rough for Royals fans," said Crow, a Topeka, Kan. native and former Missouri Tiger. "But we've got the tools in place to be successful, like (Eric) Hosmer, (Alex) Gordon and (Mike) Moustakas. Those guys are the ones going to take us to the promised land ... Hopefully the pitching staff can give up less runs than we score."
Gordon was definitely a revelation last season with the bat and finally turned the corner he had been waiting for. Hosmer had an incredible rookie season and it's clear he's the next great first baseman in baseball and Moustakas showed enough near season's end to realize he'll be just fine as a power bat at the hot corner over the long term. Together, the three form a potent core in the middle of the Royals line-up.
However, Crow will have to team with Jonathan Sanchez and Luke Hochevar among others to do the same on the mound. A Gordonesque jump in production is needed from Hochevar and Sanchez needs to perform well in a contract year. Other prospects like Jeff Montgomery will have to enjoy instant ML success if the Royals are to upend the Tigers for the division title.
Still the brightest days are ahead for the Royals and it begins with the bats in the line-up for KC. Even the pitchers know it.