Tony Pena Jr., Least Valuable Player

By DAVID MARTIN

The 2008 Royals finished 13 games out of first place in the AL Central — an improvement on the recent past with much work still be done.

The 12-game losing streak was out of the ordinary. Few saw the 13-2 finish coming. But at Jose Guillen’s last angry glare, the club’s record stood at 75-87 — below average, not embarrassing and pretty much on par with spring-training predictions.

The hitting of Alex Gordon and Billy Butler didn’t take the forward leaps that many foretold. At the same time, it was easy to imagine Brian Bannister, the brainy but hardly overpowering starting pitcher, struggling in his second full season, and that no good would come from journeyman Ross Gload getting 400 at-bats. Only the frequency and content of Guillen’s outbursts were unknowns, his antisocial behavior being a fact as certain as his right-handedness.

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