Even in the bleak world of a team without a single winning season in its past seven, it stands to reason that the KC Royals will be better in 2023. Little room remains near the bottom for these Royals, the young players to whom they gave chances in 2022 are better for it, and general manager J.J. Picollo is, despite opinions popular in at least some quarters, making moves designed to improve the club.
So count on things being better in Kansas City this season. The Royals won't be in the playoffs come October, but 2023 won't be as bad as 2022, and certainly won't reach the 100-plus loss depths of 2018 and 2019.
Look, too, for several players to improve. Some will, as is the nature of big league baseball, be worse this year; for others, the differences between their 2023 and 2022 performances will be hard to measure.
Which Royals will be better, and which will not? Let's look at two who'll likely improve and two who probably won't.
This KC Royals pitcher will have a difficult time improving this season
The past two seasons haven't been kind to Kansas City pitcher Brad Keller. Selected by local baseball writers for the club's Bruce Rice Pitcher of the Year award in 2018 and 2020, Keller stumbled in 2021 to 8-12 and the 80 earned runs he surrendered in 133.2 innings gave him a 5.39 ERA, the worst of his five-year major league career.
Keller's 2022 really wasn't any better. Yes, he improved his ERA, but at 5.09 it remained far too high. And he lost 14 games, more than any other hurler on the staff, and won only six. Pitching badly in the rotation forced him to the bullpen in August; he fared no better there, going 0-1, 6.23 in 13 appearances.
"Improvement" is, of course, a relative term, but not much about Keller's last two seasons suggests he'll be significantly better in 2023.