Interesting article on Royals GM Allan Baird on mlb.com. We saw him working the phones during the game when we were in Surprise last week. In the article the author attributes Baird's success to two main factors; "scouting and player development" and hiring Tony Pena as manager. The former factor, the author notes, encompasses the "traditional baseball virtues". However, I would argue that Baird has succeeded by diverging from traditional baseball thinking and leaning toward sabermetric thinking in several areas. These areas were part of the analysis done by Baseball Prospectus as well.
With all of that the Royals are still most helped by being in a weak division that has not improved since last year. Yes, the Royals played over their heads last year (their pythagorean winning percentage calculated to 78 wins instead of 83 given the numbers of runs they scored and the number given up) largely because of the fast start and hitting well with runners in scoring position, but this year's team is improved and should again be in the hunt for 80 to 90 wins, likely enough to win their division.