One season after ending an agonizingly long playoff drought before losing the first World Series they'd played in since 1985, the KC Royals won the 2015 Fall Classic by beating the Mets in five games. Those two straight Series trips sparked talk of a Royal dynasty, or at least two deep postseason runs before the expected and dreaded post-2017 campaign, free agency-driven departure of the team's Hosmer-Moustakas-Cain core.
The dynasty and deep runs never materialized, and little has gone right for the Royals since 2015: they've lost 100 games twice and 97 once, finished last in the American League Central twice, and watched their talent diminish and pitching and hitting crumble.
Now, a new regime gives Kansas City hope. J.J. Picollo took over baseball operations from Dayton Moore last September, dismissed the embattled duo of manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred as soon as the season ended, and after two thorough searches hired Matt Quatraro and Brian Sweeney to take their places. Then he retooled the roster.
But a trip to the 2023 World Series those changes won't make; the Royals should be better, but will have to wait another year or two to contend.
What, however, could go wrong and give Kansas City another awful season? Let's look at three potential disasters.
To be better this season, the KC Royals must avoid more injuries
The Royals would welcome a season without the significant health issues that so often plague them. A string of maladies (two shoulder injuries in 2019, a pair of quad strains and a hamstring issue in 2021, and a torn ACL last year) cost Adalberto Mondesi too many games in three of the last four seasons. Josh Staumont's neck strain and biceps tendinitis forced him to the sidelines for over two months in 2022. A UCL issue and corrective surgery have prevented reliever Richard Lovelady from throwing a big league pitch since late in the 2021 campaign.
Last season, arm problems robbed starter Zack Greinke of almost six weeks, reliever Jake Brentz's flexor strain allowed him to pitch only eight times, and Salvador Perez, who missed the entire 2019 season recovering from Tommy John Surgery and had vision problems in 2021, missed almost two months with thumb problems.
Those are the kinds of injuries the Royals can't afford this year if they hope to improve significantly.
What's the second disaster KC must avoid?