The KC Royals saw a difficult season in 2018, both in losses and trying to rebuild. While the losses piled up, there were some bright spots in the lineup.
Welcome back to the KC Royals top players and pitchers of the decade. As a quick reminder, we are traveling our way through the past decade of Royals teams, and attempting to pick out the top position player and pitcher from each year.
The KC Royals had an unfortunate 2018 season. 2018 was the first of the two most recent 100 loss seasons for the team. Not only did the team manage to fall off the edge, but they were also doing so without many of their star players who were lost to free agency.
With remnants of the 2015 World Series team scattered throughout the lineup, the Royals tried to piece together a team as best they could. But with pitching woes and unfortunate production at the plate, the team had to let go of the past and accept they were entering a rebuild.
Unfortunately for the Royals of 2018, it is at times difficult to find positives in the team and the season. They had some players who were likely to have decent full seasons, like Jon Jay and Mike Moustakas, but these players didn’t play a full season with the Royals.
Another player who only played in 44 games but at least made a splash was Ryan O’Hearn. O’Hearn got his call up from the minors in late season but made the best of his time slashing .262/.353/.597 smashing 12 home runs.
Salvador Perez also had a good year with the Royals. He slashed a lower .235/.274/.439, but as Salvy is consistent with production, he recorded 80 RBIs, 27 home runs, and won another Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award.
To top out the year, though, is Whit Merrifield. Whit had been in the majors with the Royals for a few years now and had been showing his stuff, but in 2018, he showed up in full force. Whit slashed .302/.348/.463 with 60 RBIs, 88 runs and lead the majors in both hits with 192, and stolen bases with 45. Whit finished 17th in MVP voting in 2018 and fully deserves the top spot for the season.
Honorable Mentions: Salvador Perez, Ryan O’Hearn
As with most years in Royal’s history, there is little to write home about when it comes to pitching. As far as starters go, the Royals only had one start 30 games, Jakob Junis, who held an ERA of 4.37 and a record of 9-12.
The bullpen showed a little more life. Wily Peralta managed to record 14 saves in 34.1 innings of relief with a 3.67 ERA, though he walked 6.0 batters per 9, and usually had fans on the edge of their seats during his closeout innings.
Kevin McCarthy was another arm that stood out in the Royals bullpen. McCarthy managed 72 innings of relief and held is ERA at 3.25. While his strikeout rate was low, so were his walks, and McCarthy could typically control the game to keep it in his favor.
Taking the top spot for the year is a pitcher who found his success in the bullpen to begin the year, but started in a time of need, Brad Keller. Keller was called out to start and never looked back at the bullpen. Over 41 games, 20 starts, Keller maintained an ERA of 3.08 and had a record of 9-6. He carried a low strikeout rate and at times struggled with walks, but his ability to keep the ball on the ground rivaled anyone, giving him the top spot for 2018.
Honorable Mentions: Kevin McCarthy, Wily Peralta
Follow along next time as we finish up the decade with the top players of the 2019 season.