2019 Team Preview #16: Kansas City Royals
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On to the preview!
2018 Record: 92-70, 2nd Place AL Central, 6 Games Back.
2018 was a banner year for the Royals and their fans – they won a franchise-record 92 games, 13 better than their previous best. They challenged the 2017 Twins throughout, but still fell well shy of the post-season thanks to the very high bar that was set in the AL. Will 2019 be the year that the Paris of the Plains sees some October action?
A new GM!
SP Yu Darvish (FA)
RP Bobby Jenks (FA)
Kansas City was another team that kept it pretty quiet in the offseason – partly due to an influx of talent at the 2018 deadline, and partly due to new GM Rob Chapman taking over at the top spot. Offensively last year, they were top-3 in the AL in a number of categories, laeding the AL in HR at 216. 2018 AL MVP C Gary Sanchez (.321, 52 HR, 156 RBI) is the unequivocal star and a true force that any opposing starter needs to gameplan for. Folling him in the lineup are a pair of 20-HR guys, RF Jonathan Garcia (23 HR) and 1B/DH Jack Macneill (34 2B, 27 HR). Setting the table will be former Brave 2B John Ballard (.320 Avg) and young SS Trevor Story (11 HR in 284 PA as a rookie). Also seeing time in the starting lineup are RF Jason Heyward (.275, 11 HR), former Ray 1B Chris Fletcher (.299, 37 2B), 3B Travis Shaw (.256) and 2016 GG CF Ivan Chavez (18 HR, 15 SB).
Drew Childs (13-8, 197 K), leads the rotation and will be followed by some combination of Domingo Tapia (9-5, 15 Sv, 3.14 ERA), Ron Tillman (13-6), Gio Gonzalez (10-6), Noah Syndergaard (10-6) and James Paxton (3-14). Veteran Nick McCully (19 Sv) is currently the teams’ closer and will be joined in the pen by Mark Hamburger (12 Hld, 3.25 ERA), Paul Weaver (14 Hld, 3.43 ERA), Manuel Barreda (4.13 ERA), Jesus Torres (3.51 ERA) and the loser of the rotation battle royale.
The Royals certainly turned heads and surprised folks in 2018 – but in 2019, while most of the same team returns, it may be a different outcome as opponents are ready for them. Still, any team with Gary Sanchez is going to be a factor. The Twins were quiet in the off-season, but on paper already had the better team. The other 3 AL Central teams all had nice off-seasons, but the best of those didn’t even win 70 games last year.
I think it’s a 2nd place finish again in Kansas City, though not as rosy as last year. I think they’ll be out of the post-season again, at 86-76.