What Happened to the Royals?

By: Art Aronson | Sunday, March 12, 2017

Remember us?

Before the Cubs we were the feel-good story of major league baseball - plucky overachievers who surprised a lot of people by winning the World Series in 2015. Now we get less respect than Rodney Dangerfield's ghost.

Such is the plight of the 2015-champion Kansas City Royals, who retreated to 81-81 mediocrity last season after their magic run to the year before. Now they are just another team trying to work its way back to the top, and the Indians' surge to the top of the division makes that job all the more difficult.

Lots of little things went wrong last season. Injuries. The power bullpen arms that transformed the game in 2015 were absent. Even with wunderkind Danny Duffy (12-3, 3.51 ERA) leading the rotation, the Royals gave up 73 more runs than they did the previous year.

Duffy is back, backed up by Ian Kennedy and Jason Vargas (recovering from 2015 Tommy John surgery). But the rotation suffered a blow when fireballer Yordano Ventura was killed in a January auto accident in his native Dominican Republic.

The bullpen which backboned back-to-back American League pennants has been transformed since the salad days two years ago, and former setup man Kelvin Herrera is the new closer as manager Ned Yost shuffles other bodies around to try to re-create the magic.

Yost figures his team will score more runs this season, and he loves his outfield of (left to right) Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Paulo Orlando. 

And no one doesn't like infield corners Eric Hosmer at first and third baseman Mike Moustakas.

But books don't much like the Royals' chances of vaulting past Detroit and Cleveland in a decent American League Central. KC is +1150 to win the division, 25/1 to win the American League and 50/1 to snag another World Series.

There is tremendous pressure on Yost to get the Royals off to a fast start this season. Ownership which allowed the GM to increase payroll last season didn't like the return it didn't get on its investment, and the budget has been trimmed for 2017. 

Most books have the Royals at about 81.5 wins this season, and a slow start followed by a mid-season fire sale of some key free agents could pay off big time for under players.


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