The KC Royals kicked off the 2016 season with a solid 12 – 6 start apparently picking up where they left off in November of 2015. The over most of the next month, the 2016 Kansas City Royals resembled more the 2012 Royals than they did the defending world champs.
Team schedule information from baseballreference.com shows that following the 12-6 start, the KC Royals went 4-12 falling to as low as 3rd place in the division. They also found themselves below .500 for the first time since July of 2014 and searching for offensive answers and more from their starting pitching. Heck even the Royals legendary bullpen was becoming a bit leaky.
The Kansas City Royals managed to right the ship a bit in 3 series against the Braves, White Sox, and Red Sox going 6-3 over that stretch and winning all 3 series. However, the series win vs. the White Sox May 20-22 became a Pyrrhic victory. Word came that Mike Moustakas suffered a season ending injury in a collision with Alex Gordon, and that Alex Gordon would be out 3-4 weeks.
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The KC Royals continued winning taking 2/3 from the Twins, minus Gordon and Moustakas, and began the second White Sox series with a win. Another collision then put Sal Perez on the bench for at least two weeks. Currently the Kansas City Royals are starting different players at C, 3B, 2B, LF, and at times DH, than those who started the season in those positions. Also, during the writing of this article Brett Eibner went down having to be helped off the field attempting to make a routine play.
Despite all the injuries, the Royals appear now to be playing with a hunger and determination that has appeared to be missing since October of 2015. The greatest comeback in KC Royals history occurred Saturday night vs. the White Sox without 3 of the biggest starts on the Kansas City Royals roster.
One of my edtiors, John Viril, recently published an article on how the KC Royals are able to find another level of excellence when their backs are against the wall and how some of their methods defy SABREmetric logic. On that, I certainly agree as the evidence is just too overwhelming to dispute.
Despite all the injuries, the Royals appear now to be playing with a hunger and determination that has been missing since October of 2015.
But I also believe that some of the injuries may be a disguised blessing in another way. Hunger. As inconceivable as it may be to believe, two playoff runs with the last one resulting in a championship may have somewhat worn the Royals down a bit.
It isn’t that the desire to win had been any less in 2016, only that the Kansas City Royals Royals seemed tired, and flat for much of the early part of the season. The influx of youth may have provided a bit of the pep the Royals had been lacking. It has been said that the energy of youth infects the entire team and energetic players such as Cheslor Cuthbert, Whitten Marrifield, have energy in spades.
Again, the fact that the KC Royals perform best when under pressure is indisputable even by the most ardent SABREmetric eggheads, but it is my belief that the infusion of youth onto the Royals has helped bring some of the hunger and edginess back that has been missing over the last several weeks.