Next up on our Uncut MLB Season Preview is the Kansas City Royals. The Royals reached the Promise land by winning a World Series back in 2015, but have struggled to find recent success since then. After going .500 in 2016, the Royals have fallen back into their traditional mediocrity and tradition of losing seasons. Last year, the Royals had a forgettable 26-34 season, finding themselves fourth in the division. In my Pre-Spring Training Power Rankings, I had the Royals finishing 27th in the league. Needless to say, Kansas City sports fans, you should stick to football this year.
The Kansas City Royals have a few big names that’ll step up to the plate this season. Catcher Salvador Perez will look to continue his long-tenured success for the Royals. After earning his third silver slugger award and finishing 17 in MVP voting during the shortened season, the 10-year vet is looking to prove he has some power left in the tank. Projected to have 20 home runs and 62 RBIs, the Royals will need their star catcher to step up when it matters most.
In addition to Perez, Andrew Benintendi will try to continue his growth with his new club. After finishing 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting back in 2017, Benintendi wants to be associated with the elite players of this league and will hope to do so for Kansas City.
Along with those two stars, the Royals are hoping to get some help from veterans like Carlos Santana and Hunter Dozier. If those two players can exceed expectations and play well, the Royals themselves could exceed expectations. However, if they want to have a shot at the playoffs it will have to be a group effort. Outfielder Whit Merrifield will have to step up his game and get on base more, along with likes of fellow outfielder Michael A. Taylor.
The starting pitchers are going to be a very interesting group for the Kansas City Royals this season. In the 2020 campaign, the starters finished 18th in the league in terms of ERA. However, the staff was a mess to start the season, with Mike Montgomery injured, along with the fact the COVID-19 delayed the start of Jakob Junis and Brad Keller‘s season.
For the 2021 campaign, Royals fans can look forward to some good starts this season. Coming off a year with a complete-game shutout and an impressive 2.47 ERA, young arm Brad Keller will try to continue his success this year. If he can continue his success from the shortened season, the Royals may have found their Ace for years to come.
In addition to Keller’s upside, Royals fans are excited to see Brady Singer’s second act. Singer showcased his talent last year with a 1.166 WHIP and 61 strikeouts. Those numbers bumped him to the eight spot in Rookie of the Year voting. Players like Keller and Singer are going to be the reason Royals fans should tune into games this year, as they provide young upside for a developing team.
Unfortunately, the team needs 3 more starters to get through a 162 game season, and the rest of the starters aren’t looking as promising. Long time Royal Danny Duffy hasn’t had an ERA under 4.00 since 2017. Additionally, veteran Mike Minor performed poorly as he bounced around three clubs last year. Lastly, Kris Bubic will hope to bounce back after having a 1-6 season in his rookie campaign. Overall, they have solid young arms on the top end of the rotation but they may be plagued with washed-up veterans with nothing left in the tank.
For the Royals, their bullpen may be their greatest strength. Closer Greg Holland had six saves in 6 save opportunities last season with a 1.91 ERA. He will certainly try to find the version of himself that led the league in saves with 41 back in 2017. But don’t get too excited Royals fans, that is a mere fantasy. He is projected to have 9 saves with a 4.16 ERA. Not the season you would like from a “shutdown closer”. Holland will get set up support from young buck Josh Staumont, who dealt 37 strikeouts in only 25.2 innings pitched last year.
With arms like Staumont and Holland, Royals fans can feel at ease that they have some reliability in the pen this year. However, they are going to need production from guys such as Scott Barlow and Kyle Zimmer if they want to have success in the pen this year. One or two good inconsistent arms will get you nowhere in this league. Consistency, and depth are the real keys to success.
Overall, I may have been a little harsh on the Royals in my Pre-Spring Training Power Rankings. The team has a few crafty veterans at the plate, and some solid arms on the bump. Still, if I were a Royals fan I wouldn’t start expecting anything crazy. The Royals are in an ultra-competitive division with playoff teams such as the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins. The Royals essentially need every single player to have career years for them to even think about October Baseball this year. Things like injuries, slumps, and failed expectations will likely plague the Royals this year. I expect them to finish fourth in the AL Central this season, just ahead of the Detriot Tigers.