This year, there was a lot of hope for the Kansas City Royals to make another run to the World Series. Sadly, that did not happen. One of the reasons was a change in identity—a change that didn’t work.
During their playoff runs, the Kansas City Royals dominated in three areas. They had a dominant defense, a lights-out bullpen and incredible speed.
That was the formula they used to win two American League pennants and the 2015 World Series. This seemed to work pretty well.
So the question becomes, what happened?
This past offseason the organization made some moves that went against this formula. The Kansas City Royals traded closer Wade Davis for Jorge Soler. This trade showed that the Royals wanted more power, and Soler can provide that. Overall, the trade did not seem bad. That being said, it’s still too early to tell how good or bad that trade was.
This issue with adding power is Kauffman Stadium has one of the largest outfields in MLB. The team’s home run record had been stuck at 36 for over 30 years until Mike Moustakas broke it this season. Power is not something the Royals should focus on. Power is important for every team, but the Royals had plenty of it going into 2017.
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The plan was to move Kelvin Herrera to the closer role. The issue there is the Royals were going to move Joakim Soria, who was unreliable in 2016, to Herrera’s spot in the eighth inning. Herrera and Soria could not live up to the bullpen of the past. The Kansas City Royals lost the dominant bullpen, and it may have been the difference this year.
The Royals also traded speedy outfielder Jarrod Dyson for starting pitcher Nate Karns. Dyson was a great player for the Royals. He could run down balls and get extra bases most players could not. He was also comparable at the plate with a slash line of .251/.324/.350 to Jorge Bonifacio who hit .252/.318/.424. Dyson would have been a lot better on defense and at running the bases than Bonifacio.
This trade gave the Kansas City Royals some pitching depth that did not work out well in 2017 due to Karns’ injury. The issue with this move is that the team did not add speed to replace Dyson. The formula here broke down.
Where do we go from here?
The Kansas City Royals took away from their strengths and—as a result—lost their identity. They hit more home runs and had a better rotation than in past years. But the bullpen struggled, and the Royals were not as quick as they had been.
The Royals are about to enter rebuild mode. And to get back to the World Series, the Kansas City Royals need to get back to their formula. They need to go after players to improve the bullpen, run the bases quickly and play great defense.