Don't lose late-season momentum.
Outside of the free-agent signings, the Royals' successes following the trade deadline have fuelled optimism amongst fans.
Well, momentum may be a strong word, but it was a large improvement by Royals standards. Kansas City played .500 baseball in their final 30 games while ranking 10th in runs scored and keeping things even with a -2 run differential in that span. Like I said, not amazing, but a big improvement from how the Royals looked earlier in 2023.
Fans stopped caring about the win-loss column early in the season, so more of the improvement was from individual players. Ragans was inarguably the biggest success story since making his Royals debut on July 15. Since then, his 2.4 fWAR was fifth-best in MLB while hovering near the league's best in ERA, K/9.
The biggest improvement from the first to the second half was at the plate. Players like MJ Melendez, Dairon Blanco, and even Witt made notable improvements in that split. Blanco, especially, was underrated in the season's second half, with a 143 wRC+ in 50 games.
As a whole, the Royals offense jumped from 29th to 14th in its value, according to FanGraphs. That is a huge jump, and the sustained nature of Kansas City's improvement offered optimism that they could do it again in 2024, possibly for an entire season. That is likely one reason Kansas City has not added many position players, content to retain their young and controllable players, hoping they run it back.
The lineup gets Vinnie Pasquantino back, likely Kansas City's biggest off-season "acquisitions." From top to bottom, the 2024 Royals look like an improved team in all facets. Take the lessons from last year, move on, and improve. Sounds simple, right?