With a shortened season and multiple rule changes, the KC Royals could find themselves in a race for the postseason in what should be a strange season.
At the end of the 2019 season, if someone had said that the KC Royals could find themselves in the postseason come 2020, many likely would have laughed. Saying it today would still probably draw a few laughs, and the laughs are not unwarranted.
The Royals have struggled for a few seasons and have been continuing with their rebuild. Things started to look better last year, at least offensively, but another 100 loss season proved that contention was still at least a few seasons away.
Now, things may be a bit different. With the 2020 season looking to be on track, each team will have to adjust to some new rules, a new schedule, and a new feel for baseball. Even a short losing streak can put teams at a disadvantage, but if a few players were to get hot, even a team that has struggled in past seasons could find themselves in a good position.
The Royals tend to be a second half team, seeing more wins and better play as the season goes on and usually once it no longer matters as they are too far behind to catch up. For the 2020 season, the second half is all they have.
An interesting set of stats to look at comes through an article by Jeffrey Flanagan at MLB.com. Flanagan put together a list of questions some might have and the details about the upcoming season. One of these questions was whether or not a 60 game season benefits the Royals.
Flanagan pointed out that during the previous season, the Royals saw consistent struggle and didn’t have any stretch of games that would put them much further ahead. When broken down to players though, Jorge Soler and Whit Merrifield might be able to keep the ball rolling.
Flanagan gave the stats for a 60 game stretch for each of these players, and the numbers are exactly what fans would like to see. Here are the stats as presented in the article:
• Jorge Soler (July 24-season’s end): .292/.395/.653 (63-for-216), 13 2B, 21 HR, 46 RBIs, 35 BB … Soler’s 21 homers during that stretch led the American League and were only one behind Cincinnati’s Eugenio Suárez for most in MLB.
• Whit Merrifield (May 11-July 19): .325/.373/.498 (83-for-255), 20 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 32 RBIs, 8 SB … Merrifield’s 83 hits during that 60-game stretch led the Majors.
Will these two players having good stretches cause the Royals to make it to the postseason? Not necessarily, but it could definitely help. A 60 game season presents a unique chance for a team like the Royals.
There are plenty of players looking for their breakout seasons, continued success, or a resurgence. Signs have been pointing to offensive progression and if Royals pitchers can hit their groove, things may start to turn in the right direction.
However the season goes, there should be some interesting storylines for the Royals as games progress. With the ability to hold onto a larger roster for some time, plus the taxi squad, there could be multiple debuts and anything is bound to happen.
The 2020 season is likely to be a strange season, with some rule changes and teams trying to get back on track and into the “swing” of things. Luckily for teams like the Royals, with a shortened season, anything is possible and they could surprise a few people.