The 2012 season was one of transition for the KC Royals. They lost 90 games, but improvement was on the horizon. Could 2020 be 2012 all over again?
The year was 2012, the month March, the first full and final month of spring training for the KC Royals. The Royals hadn’t contended for a long, long time. Ned Yost, hired by the club in January 2010 as an advisor and named manager just a few months later, was beginning his second full season as KC’s skipper. Salvador Perez was becoming the club’s regular catcher; Alex Gordon was already a Gold Glove left fielder. Young guns Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas were continuing the successful trip they’d been on together from the minor leagues to Kauffman Stadium.
Flash forward to 2020. It hasn’t been as long since the club contended–2017, to be exact–but the hard, sudden fall from two straight World Series trips and a Fall Classic title in 2015 to 100-plus loss campaigns the last two seasons, makes it seem like a long time. Manager Mike Matheny, like Yost a transplant to a KC advisory role after being fired as a National League manager, is starting his first season at the helm. Perez and Gordon are still Royals, Perez coming back after a season lost to injury, Gordon playing what may be his last season.
Holland is back, trying to make the club as a non-roster spring invitee. The main infield question mark is at first base, not second, and the only real outfield question is whether Bubba Starling or Brett Phillips–or both, or others–will break camp as backups. The starting rotation is, like the 2012 version, shaky but should, like the bullpen, improve.
The 2012 Royals lost 90 games, but won one more game than in 2011. The 2020 Royals are worse–instead of two consecutive 90+ loss seasons, they’re coming off two straight 100+ loss campaigns. But 2012 was a season of transition, positioning the Royals for 2013, the season they re-emerged as winners and began the march back to the World Series. Will 2020 be 2012 all over again–a campaign that puts the KC Royals on the road to contention?