KC Royals: 3 early reasons to be excited about 2022

(Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /
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KC Royals, Mike Matheny
(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

Being a KC Royals fan this season wasn’t easy. The 2020 version of the team with just eight winning seasons in 36 following its 1985 World Series victory improved, but the product was, in the end, still subpar. The Royals teased its fanbase with an uncharacteristically fast start—they held down first place in the American League Central for 28 calendar days through May 5—then brought their fans back to reality with a right-between-the-eyes 11-game losing streak that exposed them for what they were, a team at least a season or two from contending.

“Roller-coaster ride” is an overused, but so perfect, descriptor of the mercurial 2020 Royals. They almost matched their 11 losses in a row with a subsequent eight-game skid, won six in a row once and five straight twice, and relied on scattered two and three-game win “streaks” to avoid finishing last in the Central.

And while Salvador Perez had a career year and Nicky Lopez surprised everyone by proving he really can hit big league pitching, no Kansas City pitcher won more than eight games, two lost 12, and the club struggled to keep a five-man rotation intact for long. Injuries were prolific, including three that kept Adalberto Mondesi out for most of the season.

So, what is there to be optimistic about? A few things, it turns out. Here are three.

The KC Royals improved and played above .500 after the 2021 All-Star Break.

Major league baseball’s mid-July All-Star Break serves as the traditional marker of each season’s half-way point, a “before and after” demarcation from which to measure improvement or regression, and one suggesting Kansas City became a better club in 2021’s second half.

Cleveland hammered the Royals 14-6 to end the first half; it was the club’s fourth loss in a row and their sixth in seven games, leaving it in last place at 36-53. But Kansas City won nine of its remaining 14 July contests, escaped the cellar a week after the Break ended, and finished 38-35 in the second half. The improvement was incremental, but provides reason for optimism.