The Kansas City Royals haven’t enjoyed a winning season since the 2015 campaign where they won 95 games and capped it with a World Series title. Is an 81-win season too much to ask for 2020?
As we enter the last days of our 12 days of Royals campaign, it’s time we start asking for some extra wins. Of course, an 81-win season would still be considered a wildly mediocre outcome, and will most definitely not be good enough to make the playoffs, but it’s a start in heading in the right direction.
The last decade has been a roller coaster for Royals’ baseball. The team experienced the highest highs, with back-to-back trips to the World Series, winning one of those appearances, but it also experienced the lowest lows, with losing triple-digit games in back-to-back seasons. We’re not asking for immediate overwhelming success – as we need to consider roster conditions – but this team can certainly compete, and leave those 100 game losing seasons behind.
The biggest secret weapon entering next year is the team’s pitching rotation. Brad Keller is on the cusp of having a breakout year, Danny Duffy is entering perhaps his most important season, Mike Montgomery can certainly improve into a useful starter, and there is real talent brewing in the minors, primed to burst out into the show any day during the next MLB campaign.
Add to that consistency at the plate, speed on the base pads, Jorge Soler and his 48 Home Runs in the heart of the order, Salvador Perez’s comeback season, and All-Star Whit Merrifield - and that should provide enough consistent run production to stack up some W’s.
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If the team truly wants to remove the “rebuilding” label, then it must begin performing accordingly. It’s true that an organization depends on talented and high performing players to have success, but that’s not always the case. These players need development and proper inspiration if they want to surprise the baseball world.
There are never true indications of when a big-league team is ready to start winning ballgames. We can look back to the Oakland Athletics during the Moneyball years, where they refused to lose and found innovative ways to remain competitive. The Royals have adequate talent primed for at least an 81-win season.
Mike Matheny is also someone who should target that 81-win mark. So far, his resumé sports an unblemished record by never enduring a losing season in his 6 years as an MLB manager.
The AL Central Division is clearly getting weaker. The Minnesota Twins won 101 games in 2019, but who really saw that coming? It’s doubtful that their performance gets repeated in 2020. The Cleveland Indians are cleaning house, trading Corey Kluber, and aggressively shopping their best player in Francisco Lindor. The Detroit Tigers managed to outdo the Royals by losing 114 games, and the Chicago White Sox made a half-hearted improvement by signing Dallas Keuchel in an attempt to remain somewhat relevant. Therefore, W’s are there for the taking.
The young Royals can taste some winning next year, hopefully enough for them to know first-hand that winning with this current team is a possibility. They don’t need to win 90 games, as they should start by running a half-marathon before they go the distance – and an 81-win season next year accomplishes just that.