KC Royals: The unforgettable mistakes of 2017, Part 2

(Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images) /
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KC Royals
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

The KC Royals cooled off in August. They didn’t play well; two five-game losing streaks put the club well behind Cleveland, and the Indians ran away with the Division in September.

Much to the pain and anguish of the KC Royals and their fans, the promise of June and July turned to despair in August and September. There would be no postseason baseball in Kansas City, the final disappointment for a special team soon to be broken apart by free agency. Two things happened to ruin the dream of one last run with the championship core, one of the Royals’ own making, and the other not.

For their unfortunate part, the Royals lost nine of their first 11 August games and 18 of 28 in all, a startling collapse that left them 11 games out of first with virtually no hope of recovery; a lackluster 15-14 September simply assured them of a final losing record. Cleveland, on the other hand, scorched the division, winning 44 of its last 57 games.

And what of Moore’s moves to improve the club’s stretch run chances? Recalling Terrance Gore and trading for Melky Cabrera, Brandon Maurer, Ryan Buchter and Trevor Cahill didn’t work. Not that it would have made a difference if they had succeeded–the Indians were just too strong a late-season team–but the Royals’ acquisitions didn’t make their intended collective difference.

Gore mattered only if the KC Royals needed his special speed late in games–in other words, if they found themselves having to score late in critical contests. But the team’s poor play meant the need for Gore’s speed rarely materialized; he attempted only four steals.

Cabrera, a switch-hitter presumably acquired because he was hitting lefties well (.296) and could spell Alex Gordon and other outfielders down the stretch, was hitting .295 with 13 homers and 56 RBI when he arrived. He fell to .269 and hit just four homers for the rest of the season.

Cahill, obtained with Buchter and Maurer, had an 8.22 ERA in 21 innings, walked six more hitters than he struck out, and posted a 10.24 FIP. And Maurer, obtained to bolster the bullpen, was a disaster. His otherwise benign 2-2 record with two saves belied the collective ugliness of the 26 games he pitched–an 8.10 ERA (56 ERA+), 2.25 WHIP, 15.3 H9, and 5.0 BB9. (Buchter was 1-0 with a 2.67 ERA in 29 games).

Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar and Jason Vargas all played in the club’s final game of the season, a home loss to Arizona that left them 80-82. All became free agents; Hosmer signed with San Diego, Cain with Milwaukee and Vargas with the Mets. The Royals re-signed Escobar, and then Moustakas when his market failed to develop. Escobar played out the 2018 season with KC and now plays in Japan, while Moustakas was traded in July to the Brewers and is now with Cincinnati.