The KC Royals have lost 146 more games than they've won since capping a two-season run of magic with a World Series title in 2015. Only the intervention of a pandemic, which shortened the 2020 campaign to 60 games, kept the club from losing even more.
Somehow, the Royals managed to avoid 100 losses last season (had they not, they would have reached the century mark for the third time in five years), but that they lost 97 times and didn't overhaul themselves means several assumptions about this season's team are safe to make.
For examples, Kansas City won't win the World Series, the American League pennant, or the AL Central. Nor will the club finish with its first winning record since 2015. No Royal will be named Most Valuable Player or win the Cy Young award. Offseason additions Aroldis Chapman and Jackie Bradley Jr. won't be Royals when the season ends Oct. 1 against the Yankees.
Other assumptions about this club, though, aren't so safe. Avoid them. Here are three.
Shaky KC Royals Assumption No. 1: Drew Waters will take over center field
That Waters would start the season in center field was a popular notion when spring training started. He wasn't great for the Royals after coming to them last July in exchange for a draft pick, but the promise he showed when the club called him up in late August was enough to convince many he was the man for center when KC traded Michael A. Taylor to Minnesota in January.
Unfortunately, the oblique injury Waters suffered before the Royals opened Cactus League play derailed any plans for him to be the Opening Day center fielder. He's not expected back until sometime in May.
Considering how long oblique strains can take to conquer, the Royals will be careful with Waters—expect at least a moderately long minor league rehab assignment to precede his return to Kansas City. Even then, the club won't rush him, and the demanding territory that is Kauffman Stadium's center field may have to wait awhile.
What else shouldn't fans assume?