First off, this piece is not meant to highlight the losing season the KC Royals have had so far. Rather, it is to explain in my opinion on how a World Series Championship team was able to fall into such an unfortunate position just two seasons later.
The Kansas City Royals 2017 is all but down the drain. The offense is bad, the bullpen is not the best, and the offense is bad again. After coming off an 81-81 season mostly depleted by injuries. The KC Royals were confident in their 2017 roster to put together another postseason run. However, an 8-17 start is not exactly what gets you into the postseason. Trade rumors are already starting to swirl as the teams stars are set to hit free agency after the season ends. So, how did decades of misery only account for two seasons of success? Here’s your answer.
Wil Myers Trade
I am going to start out by saying I loved this trade and without it the KC Royals most likely would not have gotten to where they are today. James Shields and Wade Davis were essential to the Royals success. However, the hole in right field has been present ever since. Whether it be Orlando, Bonifacio, Lough, Rios, Aoki, and even Merrifield, the Royals cannot find a solid right fielder to fill the position.
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Soler is yet to have a chance to prove himself, but the Royals had to give up their All-Star closer Wade Davis for his services. The hole in right field has not so much impacted the team defensively, but on the offensive side of things it has destroyed their lineup. The Royals have moved past all of the their recent options because the man in right has not been able to hold himself accountable at the plate. Wil Myers is currently batting .308 with 7 homers and 21 RBI’s. I don’t think I even have to tell you that he would be leading this Royals team in every one of those categories. While the Royals received a lot of talent in the trade, a lot was also given up.
Departure of Kendrys Morales
One of the more underrated moves of Dayton Moore’s tenure, I believe this one is crucial to lack of success the team is having in 2017. Morales provided a well disciplined at-bat every time he came to the plate, which other Royals players were able to mimic. In 2016, his 30 homers led the team and his 48 walks were third on the team. Now in 2017 the Royals have Brandon Moss, who is currently batting .167 which is last on the team, and his 24 strikeouts lead the team. The player who’s job is to hit is hitting the worst on the team; not good.
Morales was able to replace and even exceed the bat of Billy Butler, but Dayton Moore has missed on the Moss signing and the Royals are stuck with him until the end of the 2018 season. Let’s hope he proves me wrong or we are going to see Omar Infante 2.0. With a team already at the bottom half in home runs and runs scored, losing Morales was not an option the team could afford.
Core Players Underperforming
For the most part, most of the players who struggled in 2016 are also continuing their slide into the beginning of 2017. Alex Gordon for example, who signed a 4-year $72-million dollar deal after winning the World Series, hit .220 last season before starting off 2017 to an even more miserable .191 batting average. Alex Gordon was a key contributor to the Royals success in 2014 and 2015, but has not been the same player since the World Series run.
Now Eric Hosmer, this paragraph could go into another whole story with how Hosmer has performed this season, but I will stick to the basics. Homser hit .266 last season, after posting a .297 average the season before. Despite the average, Hoz set personal records for homers and RBI’s, so while still productive, his average was able to dip. In 2017 however, the .242 average with only two homers in over 100 at-bats is not what the Royals envisioned out of their star player. The cause for concern is that Hosmer continues to hit ground ball after ground ball to second base. Until Hosmer can figure out this problem, his struggles may continue.
The play of Escobar could also be mentioned, but the Royals do not depend on Escobar’s bat as they do with the two above. While all three still remain forces on defense, all three need to improve their batting numbers if the team is going to win again.
No More Speed
The removal of Jarrod Dyson signified the change in philosophy for the Royals. No more would the Royals focus on small ball and base hits to score runs, but home runs and doubles would lead this team to victory. Unfortunately, this has not worked to plan just yet, and the Royals lost a valuable asset in Dyson. Now the king of pinch-running and even a solid outfielder, Dyson left the KC Royals after leading the team in triples in 2016.
No more Dyson means no more worrying about base runners for the opposing pitchers. No longer are teams concerned with the Royals getting a base hit to scratch a run in, but the KC Royals have to get the big hit to get their runs. The way the Royals played the game of baseball changed the day the KC Royals traded Nathan Karns for Jarrod Dyson. Karns, who just got his first win as a starter in May.
The Breakup of HDH
The biggest piece to this puzzle is Greg Holland. Without Greg Holland the KC Royals bullpen held up well because of how amazing Wade Davis is. However, with Davis gone the bullpen cannot be the force it was with all three. One of the biggest mistakes the Royals have made in their quest to repeat as World Series Champs is letting Greg Holland leave.
Now I know Holland signed for a little bit of money, but if Moore believed this is really the last year for Kansas City to win, wouldn’t the risk be worth it? Holland is currently dealing with the Colorado Rockies and is showing to the rest of the league that he still has what it takes to be one of the best closers in the game. The KC Royals settled for Seth Maness, who is still recovering from an injury and has been no help to the 2017 Royals so far.
The Wade Davis trade is still a hard one to talk about for me. I have never been a fan of it. Nothing against Jorge Soler whatsoever. But the KC Royals showed the past two seasons the importance of the bullpen and when the Royals traded their best weapon in their final year of relevance, it felt like they were selling a season early. The right field hole might finally be solved with this trade, but how many games have the KC Royals lost this year because of their bullpen?
The outcome of these events have obviously not been positive. The team is in last place in the entire American League and is last in runs scored. The KC Royals look as if they will miss the playoffs once again after an offseason was filled with optimism from the fan-base. While I can write here and say exactly what I think this team did wrong to land in this position, it was not an easy process to have these choices made.
For logical reasons, Moore made all of these moves in the best interest of Davis Glass and the Royals fans. Unfortunately, this season has not gone as planned. The death of Yordano Ventura is still impacting this team in more ways than one and could easily be why this team looks lost. Nonetheless, those five moves listed above are why I think the KC Royals are in the bad spot they are in now.
A bit of encouragement can be seen in the minors with some players performing well. Miguel Almonte is back, Ryan O’Hearn is playing well, and Josh Staumont continues to impress. But this is the future, and the Royals are currently struggling right now.
Core players like Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Alcides Escobar could all be leaving the team after the upcoming season. Players to which the fans have grown close with and come to know and love. The Royals could be getting a face lift of sorts after the 2017 season and it would feel like a monumental loss to all those who follow the team. It would feel as if the KC Royals are rebuilding once again and losing the magic they created in 2014 and 2015.
No Royals fan wants this. No KC Royals fan wants the unavoidable dismal future that ahead. But it will happen. After this season you may see your favorite player leave. You may see the team as you know it and once knew it, never look the same again. No one wants this, not Dayton Moore, not even the players, but it may happen.
The main players associated with the World Series title could soon be gone, and that is heartbreaking for most fans to believe. It is a flat-out exodus of the team we came to love and enjoy.