How is success measured? Is it the Mount Kilimanjaro-like steps we take or the baby steps that we take? Does success depend on what we are aiming for? These are the questions that we will ask ourselves this season about the Kansas City Royals baseball season.
Many pundits will tie the Kansas City Royals success to wins and losses. Many pundits have the Royals losing more than 90 games this season. Fangraphs predict the Royals to lose 94 games While Baseball Prospectus has the Royals at 89 losses. So, how do the Royals measure a successful 2019 season?
The Royals should not concern themselves with the pundits or wins and losses. They need to concentrate on the overall aims of the organization. By focusing on the overall picture, the following five focal points will help define a success campaign.
The first focal point for the Kansas City Royals should center around walks. Walks serves two purposes. The first purpose is to see more pitches. This will also help the team see the opposing team’s gameplan.
The Royals have embraced hitting coach Terry Bradshaw’s philosophy by walking 116 times this spring, which the Royals are in line with the Astros for the most in MLB. The other purpose is to get on base. By getting on base, the team will be in excellent place to use their greatest strength.
Fear The Speed
The next focal point centers on unleashing the speed demons. Speedsters such as, Terrance Gore, Billy Hamilton, Adalberto Mondesi, Whit Merrifield are their top blazers. Their speeds are so fast that MLB’s Statcast lists their speeds at; 31.4 ft/sec, 30.1 ft/sec, 29.9 ft/sec, and 29 ft/second. Other KC speedsters include; Brett Phillips (29 ft/sec), Hunter Dozier (28.6 ft/sec), Chris Owings (28.3), and Jorge Soler (28.3 ft/sec).
On field speed will allow the Kansas City Royals to cover Kauffman stadium. To fully maximize this speed, the Royals need a group of young pitchers to grow and mature into competent major leaguers.
This brings us to focal point three, starting pitching. By simply allowing their young pitchers to learn and grow they can improve on last year’s team ERA of 4.84. This group of young pitchers should include; Brad Keller, Jakob Junis, Danny Duffy, Kyle Zimmer, and either of Eric Skoglund, Jorge Lopez, or Heath Fillmyer.
They do not have to be world beaters. However, they do have to pitch into the fifth or sixth innings while giving up no more than four runs. Having limits like this could help these young starters gain valuable experience, grow confidence, and allow them to focus on taking incremental steps towards being a playoff caliber staff.
A competent pitching staff also includes a bullpen that can get the job done more times than not. This brings up focal point number four. The Kansas City Royals must improve their bullpen whose gaudy ERA numbers were north of five as well as finishing 29th out of 30 teams.
So, a reconstructed pen should look something like this; Wily Peralta as their closer, Jake Diekman or Brad Boxberger as the setup man (depending on the right or left-handed match ups), Kevin McCarthy and Tim Hill as short relief or seventh inning guys, while Brian Flynn and Ian Kennedy will serve as long relief or spot starters.
By an improved bullpen, speedsters patrolling the field, and young starting pitching the Kansas City Royals next focal point should center around continuing to build the next wave of contention.
The Royals have already started building this window in the team they have in Lexington. Currently, the Lexington Legends’ roster includes names such as; Jackson Kowar, Seuly Matias, Nick Pratto, M. J. Melendez, and Martin Gasparini to name a few.). This group will be promoted to Double A quickly. Once there, they should slide in well with Khilil Lee and Nicki Lopez.
It’s A Virtue
All this leads me to point out the most important element a successful campaign centers around, which is patience. Patience is a virtue that takes time to master. The Kansas City Royals can master patience with letting the young pitchers and positional players make mistakes and grow .Zimmer will be a great case study for this after the season) and become the new face of the franchise (Mondesi).
All the while giving trade bait candidates like Billy Hamilton and Boxberger space to maximize their return to form will allow the Royals to potentially receive complementary minor leaguers.
A patient approach will allow the Kansas City Royals to set themselves up with a Royal flush instead of mush if they can follow these focal points.