It’s only mid-October. Pennant winners aren’t yet crowned. The World Series is nine days away. Free agency doesn’t begin until the day after the Fall Classic ends, so major offseason personnel moves are more in the mind than on the table. But in the case of the KC Royals, it’s not too early to be concerned about the 2022 campaign.
Real issues, some certain to slow the club’s journey back to contention if left inadequately addressed this winter, confront new General Manager J.J. Picollo.
Here are three.
The KC Royals suffered through too many injuries during the 2021 season.
Perusing mlb.com’s individual “Players” and “Injury Report” pages, or the “Transactions” section on Kansas City’s official website reveals one reason to be concerned about the 2022 Royals.
Injuries. And lots of them. Health issues impacted no less than 15 players this season, most of them pitchers.
Two left forearm flexor strains derailed starter Danny Duffy just when he was headed for one of his best seasons ever; the Royals lost him to the Dodgers in a trade deadline deal, but he couldn’t pitch for his new team and his future is in doubt.
Shortstop Adalberto Mondesi missed most of the season with two oblique injuries and a hamstring issue.
Shoulder impingement syndrome struck pitchers Mike Minor, Greg Holland, Jesse Hahn and Jakob Junis, and catcher Cam Gallagher, who also had knee inflammation.
A UCL sprain cut Richard Lovelady’s season short and led to Tommy John surgery.
Brady Singer suffered right shoulder fatigue and right arm discomfort, a right shoulder strain and right shoulder inflammation hit Wade Davis, a right forearm strain nagged Ronald Bolanos, Brad Keller suffered a right lat strain, Kyle Zimmer had neck and trap issues, Andrew Benintendi fractured a rib, and Hunter Dozier suffered a thumb injury he tried with poor results to play through.
Reasonable to assume is that the KC Royals, whose 74-88 record was their best since 2017, would have finished closer to .500 without so many injuries. The number of arm and shoulder problems, and whether they’ll revisit the same players next season, should give the franchise pause.