5 KC Royals who’ll be the difference between success, failure

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With four weeks until pitchers and catchers report to their respective spring training, KC Royals fans are beginning to stir. A nasty winter makes Opening Day seem like a distant milestone, but what is two more months after all?

Before spring training starts, let's look at a few integral KC Royals in 2024.

Any MLB roster starts at its 26-man roster, with the 40-man providing reinforcements if needed. But, every team has a handful of players that impact the season's performance more than most. The Los Angeles Dodgers notoriously added plenty of those impact players this offseason, but Kansas City already had some in-house options to drive the ship in 2024.

Let's take a look at five such players and how their roles affect the Royals so much.

Catcher Salvador Perez

What a tough 2023 season it was for catcher Salvador Perez. With the Royals captain returning, will fans see him rebound, or will it be another year in the inevitable decline?

Salvy posted the first negative fWAR of his career last year, thanks to baseball's new rules negating his defensive value behind the plate and struggling to produce with his bat. On a young team, Perez is the experienced veteran, the final reminder of the 2015 World Series championship. He has value in the locker room with his leadership and is still immensely popular among the fanbase. But his sizeable contract begs him to perform on the diamond, not just be a feel-good player.

Fans all know that Perez needs to turn things around at the plate. His 86 wRC+ was a career low but also showed a slugger performing well below league average. The hope is that Perez will find a sliver of the 2021 magic where he set career highs with 48 home runs and 121 RBI.

Frankly, all he needs to do is better than he was last year. This squad has players returning from injury, new blood in the lineup, and hopefully more consistency in the batting order. Perez is a cornerstone in all those facets. He is the captain; it's time to see why again in 2024.