2.) Ian Kennedy delivers
The 2017 Kansas City Royals were full of underachieving players. When factoring in paychecks, Ian Kennedy probably ranked just behind Alex Gordon on the disappointment list. Although, to be fair, Gordon at least won a Gold Glove despite his negative offensive impact. Kennedy struggled to stay completely healthy, so the hope is that he comes back strong in 2018.
If he manages to do so, the team should be in much better shape. Had Kennedy just matched his numbers from 2016 — his first season in Kansas City — the Royals might have made the 2017 postseason. Instead, he saw his 11-11 record fall to 5-13. Those numbers can be considered deceiving given that his mediocre start to the season resulted in an 0-6 start. His other numbers tell the story, though.
In every measurable way, Kennedy fell off last season. Per nine innings, he gave up more hits, more home runs and more walks, while striking out fewer hitters. His ERA and WHIP ballooned up to 5.38 and 1.33, respectively. As mentioned before, health was an issue. Kennedy only threw 154 innings after threatening to top 200 in the first season of his five-year, $70 million deal. He opted into the final three years of the contract this offseason.
The hope is that Kennedy will recover in 2018. If he does and Danny Duffy comes back with a vengeance, too, there is a good chance the Royals add double-digit wins to the games they start this time around. But it will take more than that for this team to compete.