Coming into the 2016 season, the World Champion Kansas City Royals had expectations as large as any, but as the season has just come to an end, it is safe to say that the team fell well below said expectations.
The 2016 Kansas City Royals finished the season at 81-81, which just about sums up the season; the team played really well during some months, but played horribly in others. While it feels like the organization had enough talent to win 90+ games this season, the past two years and shortened off-seasons have clearly taken their toll.
While this is not a full-blown season recap, I feel that it is important to highlight a few developments that took place over the course of the season.
Kendrys Morales was anything but consistent throughout the year, but his offensive production was irreplaceable. While Eric Hosmer (104) took over as this year’s RBI leader, Kendrys pounded 30 home runs, which had not been done by a Royals since Jermaine Dye in 2000.
Perhaps the biggest decision for Dayton Moore during this offseason will be deciding whether or not to issue a contract to free agent Morales. If it were up to me, I would make an effort to make sure he ends up as a Royal next season, but I’m not willing to pay through the roof.
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Following the injury of All-Star third baseman Mike Moustakas, rookie Cheslor Cuthbert stepped up to take his place. While also giving glimpses of gold-glove caliber defense, Cuthbert managed to finish the season with a .270+ batting average while driving in 46 and visiting dongtown twelve times.
Also stepping up after the release of former Kansas City 2B Omar Infante was rookie Whit Merrifield. Spending a significant time in the minor leagues prior to his call-up, Merrifield prepared well for his major league debut season. He finished 2016 with a .280+ batting average, 29 RBIs and a good amount of defensive gems.
With Merrifield and Cuthbert making an impact, rookies Raul Mondesi Jr. and Hunter Dozier had their fair share of playing time this season; I believe that both will see even more playing time in 2017.
It’s hard to tell where Cuthbert will end up in 2017, but I think it’s safe to say that Royals fans will be seeing a good amount of Whit Merrifield at second base.
It’s also no secret that starting pitching was a major reason why the Royals failed to miss the playoffs this year, but a major positive came about in former-starter made bullpen arm, recently rediscovered starter, Danny Duffy.
After the Royals moved him to the pen in previous seasons, they inserted Danny Duffy into the starting rotation as desperation mode set in mid-season. Since that point, Duffy was lights out and became the clear ace of the staff. With a rough finish to the 2016 season, Duffy bumped his ERA to 3.51, but still finished with the highest ERA of any Royals starter. There’s no doubt that Danny Duffy will continue to be a major piece of the puzzle for the 2017 Royals.
A New Hope
So, as fans vacate Kauffman Stadium for the final time in 2016 and the fountains slowly come to a rest, I offer some solace. This season’s Royals team was clearly beat up by the injuries to Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Alex Gordon, etc., but the team now has a full off-season to rest up and recover.
The team has no lack of talent, which sets up a promising 2017 season. With the help of a few offseason signings made by Dayton Moore, Royals will be a major powerhouse in the American League again.
Oh, and maybe we should get rid of Joakim Soria.
Do not fear, Royals fans, for the future is bright in Kansas City.