KANSAS CITY -- Although they are 11 games into the new season, there is no shortage of daily reminders about the Royals' incredible championship run from a year ago.
With success usually follows awards -- which the Royals have acquired in bunches. Before Saturday's game, the reigning American League champs were honored with the presentation of four GIBBY Awards for their historic season-long run that resulted in their first pennant in nearly three decades.
The GIBBYs (Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards) are presented by MLB.com and represent the ultimate honors of the industry's awards season. The votes are based on input from broadcasters, reporters, front-office personnel, MLB alumni, fans at MLB.com and the Society for American Baseball Research.
The Royals winners were Closer of the Year Greg Holland, Setup Man of the Year Wade Davis, Executive of the Year Dayton Moore and the Royals as a team, which was recognized for its unprecedented October run as the Postseason Storyline of the Year.
The Royals were thrust onto the national stage last October, and by the end of the AL Wild Card Game, their top-notch bullpen and superior defense had become the talk of baseball. Salvador Perez's walkoff single in the 12th inning of that thrilling game sparked an eight-game winning streak through the Division and League Championship Series, a run that set an MLB record.
With a roster consisting largely of homegrown players, the Royals have built an organization that not only has elite talent on its Major League roster, but depth throughout the system to replenish when there's a need. It's that depth that gives the Royals confidence that even with losses to key positions last winter -- James Shields, Billy Butler and Nori Aoki, specifically -- they should again contend in the AL Central. Even if most "experts" and prognosticators had them finishing behind the Tigers or the Indians or both.
"I don't care what anyone says," Perez said. "We know we're a good team. We may be even better than last year."
Manager Ned Yost, who is used to answering the underdog questions -- remember, he kept having to defend his moves through the postseason even though the Royals didn't lose a single October game until the World Series -- is unfazed by preseason predictions, good or bad.
"Our lineup's very deep, our pitching's very solid," Yost said. "People don't take into account anything but numbers. They don't take into account the experience they gained, the confidence they gained going through [the postseason]. Another year of development under their belts. It's called the human element and that comes into play big."
The Royals don't have to say anything to defend themselves, anyway. Just as they did last year, they're letting their play on the field do the explaining for them. Entering Saturday's game, Kansas City had an 8-2 record, thanks in large part to a seven-game winning streak to open the season.
So if they're picked by this or that publication or website to win 79 or 75 games or even fewer, don't look for anyone inside the clubhouse to take it to heart.
The formula for a successful season? Simple.
"If we score more runs than the other team," said Perez, breaking out with his signature wide smile and laugh, "we're going to win a lot of games."
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.