Welcome back to our Kings of Kauffman offseason series analyzing the 2023 performances of various KC Royals players. Up for consideration today is pitcher Brady Singer.
No one, at least no one outside the protective confines of the KC Royals, knows exactly why Brady Singer isn't the Brady Singer everyone projected him to be when the club made him its first selection in the 2018 amateur draft.
And considering his four inconsistent major league seasons, no one knows if he'll ever be that Brady Singer. He's flashed signs of being that hurler, but those flashes never turn into the sustained bright light of a of a bona fide big league star.
The root cause of Singer's disappointing story, the latest chapter of which he crafted in the form of an 8-11, 5.52 ERA 2023 performance, continues to be the subject of much speculation. Some, if not most, observers identify Singer's failure to fully incorporate a third pitch into his small repertoire — the changeup he seems so reluctant to use frequently, they say, could transform Singer.
Others rely on the questionable theory that Singer's preseason stint with Team USA in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, contending that missing much of spring training and then pitching only two innings in the international tournament seriously hampered his preparation for the regular season. But pinning the blame on his partial absence from spring camp and light work at the WBC ignores the fact that an entire major league season followed and provided Singer ample opportunity to sharpen up.
But for now, and unless the Royals know and aren't telling, what specific malady underlies Singer's underachievement remains undiagnosed definitively and unfortunately uncured, and contributed to a disappointing 2023 campaign for the hurler who was the club's best pitcher just a year ago.
The 2023 season didn't start or finish well for Brady Singer
Singer set the stage for what many assumed would be a great 2023 campaign by going 10-5 with a career-best 3.23 ERA and excellent control (2.05 BB/9) in 2022. But a slow start some still blame on that trip to the WBC got in the way — Singer gave up 28 runs in 29.2 innings in April and 17 in 24.2 in May, and as June began was 3-4 with an ugly 7.12 ERA.
He lost three of his four decisions but posted his best monthly ERA (3.49) in June, then went 2-1, 4.35 in July and 2-2, 3.94 in August.
It was during that latter month, though, that Singer's work became especially suspect. He gave up six runs in only 3.2 innings against the Cubs Aug. 19, and four in four frames in Seattle six days later. The trend continued in September: over his three starts, opponents battered him for 16 runs in 16.1 innings. A lumbar issue forced him to the Injured List the day after his last outing, and he missed the rest of the season.
Despite losing a career-worst 11 games, Singer had his moments. He earned his second win by allowing Arizona only a run and no walks, and striking out five in six innings, pitched six scoreless innings against Cleveland (but didn't get a decision) in June, struck out 10 Twins in five innings in his last July start (but once again didn't get a decision), and in his first August start beat the Mets with eight shutout innings.
Still, Singer's season can't be termed a success. As it has throughout his short major league career, inconsistency haunted him and this time prevented Singer from giving his club the kind of stellar work he provided in 2022.
What grade should Brady Singer receive for his 2023 KC Royals season?
We're giving Singer a C.