Former KC Royals are in AL Central rival's disaster

Things aren't going well for the White Sox and their former Kansas City players.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

As they prepared to play Miami a year ago today, the KC Royals season was already lost. The Royals were 18-43, an astonishing 25 games below .500; their June 7 claim to the American League Central Division cellar was so firm it would never be relinquished.

So bad were, and would remain, the 2023 Royals that it was difficult to believe any big league club would be as bad a year later. But June 7 is here, and there really is such a team ... and it's even worse. Heading into tonight's play, the White Sox are 15-48, which renders their current 14-game losing streak believable and understandable. Not since they shut out Toronto 5-0 May 21 have the Sox won a game, and they'd lost four straight before then. The club is 2-18 in its last 20 tries, and stand 26 games out of the first place spot they have no chance to see until 2025, if then.

And right in the thick of the South Side's humiliating and disastrous ineptitude are some former KC Royals, none of whom seem on the verge of catching fire and helping the Sox to better times.

Chicago's unmistakable Royal imprint isn't working

Times haven't been great at Guaranteed Rate Field since 2021 when Tony La Russa returned to managing after a 10-year absence and led the Sox to their last postseason appearance. Health issues forced La Russa out 128 games into the 2022 campaign; the club finished 81-81 and missed the playoffs. The White Sox, with former KC bench coach Pedro Grifol getting his first shot at managing in the majors, were better than only the Royals in last year's AL Central.

Grifol could have been fired, but wasn't; instead, owner Jerry Reinsdorf canned general manager Rick Hahn and club vice president Ken Williams in late August, and gave the GM's chair to former Royals infielder Chris Getz. Perhaps not content to allow himself, Grifol and fellow ex-KC coaches Eddie Rodriguez and Mike Tosar to remain the only Chicago personnel with Royals pedigrees, Getz started adding others to the fold.

Whether Getz so likes the Royal way that he intentionally set out to imitate it in Chicago is unknown; what is certain today, though, is that the KC imprint isn't making a difference.

In fact, only second baseman Nicky Lopez, acquired by Getz in the Aaron Bummer deal with Atlanta in December, is having a serviceable season. He's hitting .244, just five points below the career average he bolstered in 2021 when he became the first Royal shortstop to hit .300. Defensively, he's made only two errors this year and is, like nine current Royals, on this season's AL All-Star Game Ballot.

Reliever Tim Hill, who went 3-4 with a 4.11 ERA and three saves in two KC seasons, is 1-0, 6.14 in 26 games for the Sox. He's given up 19 runs (four unearned) in 22 innings, and allowed seven of 17 inherited runners to score.

Catcher Martín Maldonado, the prime replacement for injured Salvador Perez during the 2019 campaign before a pair of trades landed him in Houston by season's end, is mired in a season-long slump — through Thursday, he's slashing .076/.124/.120 with a homer and four RBI in 33 games.

Left fielder Andrew Benintendi, winner of his first Gold Glove in 2021, his only full Kansas City season, was already with the Sox when Reinsdorf promoted Getz. He was hitting .195 with four homers before an Achilles issue forced him to the Injured List earlier this week.

And Mike Moustakas, an offseason signee who spent some time with the White Sox in spring training, was released before the season began.

The Royals, 6-1 against the Sox this year, play them six times in July. Perhaps Chicago, and the former Royals on the team's roster, will be better then.

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