While the KC Royals have seen some decline since their World Series years, the keys to success might be easier to grab than some think.
The KC Royals have had a not so graceful fall from glory. They reached the top in 2015, winning the World Series when many thought it couldn’t be done. In just a few years, though, they have seen multiple 100 loss seasons, most of the World Series team leave, and a rebuild that has looked good at times, but slow at others.
There are some obvious things that need to be fixed before the Royals will contend again and it is hoped that during this offseason, the Royals will be ready to spend some money and fix some of the issues that are holding them back.
While the Royals aren’t typically big spenders, from recent interviews, it sounds as though the organization is focused on winning. Whether they plan to draw from free agency, or internally, there will need to be some big changes in 2021 if the Royals plan to make their name known again.
In a recent article from Jesse Spector at Deadspin, it’s suggested the Royals just have a few areas to fix. Spector makes it sound easy, but is it really?
The piece suggests that for the Royals to be “fixed” there are three areas to look towards, pitching, smart base running, and stopping the strikeouts. That sounds easy enough, but the Royals have some work to do to actually excel in those areas.
Pitching is likely at the forefront. It’s known the Royals are hoping to lean on their prospects over the next few years, but it’s been suggested that they are also on the market for a free-agent starter, and possibly a reliever or two to supplement their already young core of bullpen arms.
Spector suggests an inning eater be added to the mix of Danny Duffy, Brad Keller, and Brady Singer. Kris Bubic is lumped in with the arms of Jakob Junis, Matt Harvey, and Ian Kennedy, but this grouping may be a bit unfair.
Junis, Harvey, and Kennedy all struggled more than the Royals hoped, but Bubic started to find his way. He was asked to jump from A+ ball to the majors and make it work. He saw some rough outings, but dialed it in and saw some success in the end.
Either way, it’s obvious the Royals do need to strengthen their rotation. This will come in time with internal options, but adding in a strong veteran arm would go a long way to help the progress in 2021.
Baserunning is one of the mentioned issues that may fix itself. The Royals are known to be a base-stealing team. In 2020, they stole 49 bases which is nothing to look past. The issue, is that they were not as successful as some would hope with their type of speed. Players like Nicky Lopez attempted 5 steals and was caught every time.
For Kansas City, this should be simple to improve. They have the speed and the runners. It may come down to having the right people try to steal and picking moments more selectively for those players like Lopez who need to show what they can do. The plan shouldn’t be to always steal, but instead to steal with the most success.
The area that may present the most difficulty is stopping the strikeouts. Kansas City struck out 527 times during the 2020 season which consisted of just 60 games. For reference, the 2015 Royals struck out 973 times in 162 games.
There is an obvious difference, and until it is addressed, the Royals will struggle to keep up with other teams. For any who watched during the 2020 season, it was obvious that the Royals needed to work on hitting and the strikeouts bring the issue into focus even more.
Some players are worse than others, but as a team, Kansas City batted .244 in 2020. Strikeouts and a lack of hitting will keep them behind everyone else, and out of playoff contention.
Spector feels what the Royals need to succeed is still right where the team can reach it, they just have to be willing to admit these are the issues. Kansas City has struggled to get anything going for the past couple of seasons, but with some better hitting, smarter base running, and one or two more strong starters, the pieces might just start falling into place.
The path to fix the KC Royals sounds like it’s easy, but is it really? Let us know in the comments what you think the Royals should focus on for 2021.