KC Royals: The best and worst 2021 roster additions

(Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images) /
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KC Royals, Michael A. Taylor
(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

Two new KC Royals and a returnee earn B’s for their 2021 performances.

Signing Michael A. Taylor seemed a peculiar move when the Royals made it last November. Taylor had been a good, fleet defensive outfielder for Washington, but his offensive credentials were suspect: he brought a .237 career average and .291 OBP to Kansas City.

His shortage of bat bona fides notwithstanding, the Royals quickly installed him as their regular center fielder, and he hasn’t disappointed. Although he’s cooled off from a torrid spring training performance (.333/.438/.615 with a 1.053 OPS) and a good regular season start (he was hitting .324 after 10 games), he’s batting .248 through Saturday, a nice increase over his career clip, and his .304 OBP, while not outstanding, is better than his career mark.

Taylor is doing what the Royals acquired him to and a little more. He’s been good defensively (one error in 111 chances), improved his work at the plate, and clubbed five home runs for good measure. He gets a B.

Hanser Alberto has been a valuable and versatile addition to the KC Royals.

Kansas City acquired Hanser Alberto primarily for infield depth, and perhaps in case Nicky Lopez’s bat became even worse. How good the move was became evident when injuries to shortstop Adalberto Mondesi and third baseman Hunter Dozier pressed Alberto into more service than anticipated.

Alberto, a versatile infielder who spent the past two seasons as Baltimore’s main second baseman, stepped up and shared the infield load with Nicky Lopez and Whit Merrifield, playing third base 25 times, second eight times, and shortstop four times. (He’s also been the designated hitter twice and even pitched once).

Offensively, Adalberto’s .258 average through Saturday is below his career .276, but he’s hitting .300 in May and is 7-for-14 in his last eight games.

More has been required of Adalberto than he, or the Royals, expected when he signed on for the 2021 season, and he’s performed well in difficult circumstances. He deserves a strong B.

A classic KC Royals pitching reclamation project is working out well.

The Royals opened some eyes when they agreed to give former Royal Ervin Santana a comeback shot. Santana was in need of repair, a once-excellent hurler who hadn’t pitched in the majors since throwing three times for the White Sox in 2019 and five for Minnesota in 2018. But the Santana signing was just another in the long line of club attempts to fix down-on-their-luck pitchers; so far, the move is paying some dividends.

Santana’s mostly steady work is what the club expected. Manager Mike Matheny uses him almost exclusively in relief, a role in which Santana boasts a 2.03 ERA. He started (or “opened”) Saturday against the Twins, though, and was charged with three runs in three innings, including an inherited runner Carlos Hernandez allowed to score. But even after pitching Thursday, Santana did what Matheny required of him Saturday—with the staff short a starter, he didn’t let the game get away and handed it over to the pen with the contest tied.

And he hasn’t been scored upon in his last five relief appearances.

Santana has been and is reliable. Give him a B.