KC Royals: 2 biggest surprises, 2 biggest busts of 2021

(Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports) /
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KC Royals, Michael A. Taylor
(Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports) /

An outfielder new to Kansas City is one of the KC Royals’ 2021 surprises.

The Royals aren’t without performances some might find surprising. Edward Olivares is hitting .278, but in only five games; time will tell if he maintains that clip. Kyle Zimmer has established himself as a bullpen key, but that’s really a continuation of the status he achieved with his 3-0, 2.11 ERA record last season.

One of the club’s biggest surprises, though, is Michael A. Taylor, not because he wasn’t a decent player when the Royals unexpectedly signed him last November, but because he’s probably been better than many anticipated.

The surprise that is Taylor has its genesis in his signing, which was itself curious. His reputation as a speedster with a good glove but typically soft bat preceded him—although he hit 19 homers for Washington in 2017 and 14 in 2015, he’d hit better than .231 only twice in seven seasons and .196 last year. He brought a career .237 average and .291 OBP to Kansas City.

But Taylor’s 2021 performance exceeds those numbers. He’s hitting .250 through KC’s 59 games with a .304 OBP (it can still stand improvement), his five homers equal 2020’s output, and his 22 RBIs are six more than he had last season.

Taylor also brings stability to center field, where he’s played 52 times this season with only one error. The Royals and their fans no longer wonder every day who might be in center that night.