Well, the Royals embraced the “Who Really Cares?” of it all in 2020. In the midst of a rebuilding, while the World dealt with the pandemic, the Royals just sat back and let their kids play.
And what a welcomed distraction from the world it was.
The Kansas City Royals
2020: Record: 26 – 34
2020 Finish: 4th in the AL Central, 10th in the American League
Surprises in 2020
Let’s talk about the young pitchers the Royals showcased in 2020.
Brad Keller put up decent numbers in his first two MLB season, but he really turned it on for the 2020 season. Keller’s 2.47 ERA, 1.063 WHIP, and 186 ERA+ tell the whole story, but just a bit further under the surface you get a clearer picture of his dominance.
Keller’s 6.4 H/9 would have put him in the top 10 AL pitchers if he had started more than nine games. While his k/9 total is low by league standards, holding your opponents hitless is far more valuable than striking out 8 hitters over a game, but giving up runs. And he’s only 24-years-old? Look out AL Central.
Similarly, Brady Singer had an excellent 2020, his first season in the majors. Singer’s record makes it seem like he had a lot more trouble than the rest of his numbers would indicate. A 4-5 record with and ERA just above 4.00 make it seem like this season was middling success, but that’s not true. Singer had a great season dropping a 1.166 WHIP and a low 7.3 h/9, good enough for 7th in the AL.
If Singer and Keller keep progressing they’ll be a solid duo at the top of the Royals rotation.
We should also talk about Josh Staumont, but really… all you need to see are these two tweets to get the general gist.
Disappointments in 2020
There’s really no reason to be disappointed with the Royals last season. They were very upfront about who they were, about what they trying to achieve and how they were going about their season. Can’t really fault them for that.
Sure, we can be bummed that Jorge Soler wasn’t the same guy he was in 2019. We can be sad that Royals fans didn’t get to give Alex Gordon the send-off he deserved. But at the end of the day, what the Royals gave us in 2020 was the “Steve Winwood’s Greatest Hits” of a baseball season.
Put it on and don’t worry about anything.
Looking Ahead to 2021
The future of this team is bright, as we saw by way of the pitching staff in 2020. This is a bit of a change in organizational thinking from past years, where the Royals have relied on veteran arms and younger bats to get to their World Series appearances.
However, this time around we’re seeing a young core of players from all over the diamond coming up through the farm system. With these young players, like Bobby Witt Jr., coming onto a team that’s giving them ample time to mature, it’s possible that the Royals are creating another dynasty.
If there is a potential dark mark on the upcoming 2021 season, it’s the cloud hanging over a potential deal that sends Whit Merrifield packing. What could be the deal of the 2021 deadline could net the Royals multiple top prospects in exchange for Whit. While it’ll be tough to see Merrifield walk, it’ll make the Royals better in the long run. Think James Shields in 2012.
It’s a tough pill to swallow, for sure. But if that’s the only tough pill for a while, it’s very much worth it.
Projected 2021 Finish: 72 – 90, 4th in the AL Central
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