We continue picking the brains of our writing staff to preview the season. Today we ask -what would constitute a successful Royals season?
Jesse Anderson: 68 or more wins. Looking back at past teams who had 100+ loss seasons and ended up being good within a handful of seasons (Astros and Cubs, most recently) , improving by about 10 wins per season seems normal. 68 wins this season shows a massive step in the right direction, poises the team to hopefully play near .500 in 2020, and then with another 10 win improvement to be in contention with 88 wins in 2021. My own projection is for them to be better than 68 wins, but I’ll settle for 68.
Of course, there’s always that chance that everything breaks the Royals way and they end up contending. Say Bauer gets traded to the Padres right before the season starts, O’Hearn, Mondesi, Keller, Lopez, Zimmer, Junis, Dozier, and a few others all have significantly better returns than expected, and no further injuries.
Yeah, it could happen. And it’s spring, so I’m hopeful.
Matthew LaMar: A successful Royals season ends with Kansas City having at least five guys on the Baseball America top 100 prospect list, and with at least three inexperienced guys taking a significant step forward at the big league level (Kyle Zimmer, Hunter Dozier, Ryan O’Hearn, Jorge Soler, Adalberto Mondesi, Nicky Lopez, and Bubba Starling are prime candidates). While normally the Royals’ win-loss record would have no bearing on a successful season, I think that if the Royals do win more games than is expected--say, close to 80--multiple things have gone right. A terrible Royals team tells you something, but that thing is that the Royals are a long ways away from being competitive.
Alex Duvall: A successful season for me would consist of the following:
- • An end of the year rotation of five young arms (Keller/Junis/Fillmyer/Skoglund/Lopez)
- 600+ PA from Soler and Mondesi
- Find a long-term answer at third base
- 67+ wins
The Royals have to start figuring out their long-term plans. No more patchwork. Let the kids have at it. I don’t want to see any fliers on this roster from August on. Let the kids play.
Shaun Newkirk: If we assume Mondesi and Merrifield aren’t going anywhere, then they need guys like Wily Peralta, Jorge Soler, Martin Maldonado, Chris Owings, Billy Hamilton, Homer Bailey, Brad Boxberger, and Jake Diekman to provide flippable value. The 2019 Royals record doesn’t matter, just as the 2018 and 2020 records don’t/won’t either. If the Royals can have these one-year deal guys provide value in a trade for future assets, then that’s the only measure of success I’m concerned about.
Ryan Heffernon: In reality, a successful season is probably one that ends with the highest possible pick in the 2020 draft. With that being said, I think a successful season on the field looks like a .500 team. The Royals play in a truly atrocious division and the Jose Ramirez injury scare could make it worse. They will get to play the Twins, White Sox, and Tigers 57 times this season, which doesn’t hurt. If the Minnesota Twins didn’t exist in 2016, the Royals almost certainly wouldn’t have finished at .500.
I don’t think .500 will happen, but if everything went right, it could happen. If Mondesi continues to turn a corner, he and Whit are a pretty fearsome middle of the infield. If Soler stays healthy and hits, he brings a unique blend of power and plate discipline that the Royals don’t typically see. Maybe Kyle Zimmer becomes a force out of the bullpen. Getting to 80 or 81 wins would certainly make for a better summer in Kansas City.
Max Rieper: I think if Mondesi stays healthy and largely lives up to his potential, if a few younger players break through like Ryan O’Hearn and maybe Brett Phillips, and if the farm system vaults into the upper half of farm systems in baseball, then I think it will be a successful season. The wins and losses shouldn’t matter much, although I do expect them to be much improved in the standings (while still capable of losing 90+).
sterlingice: It’s not going to be all of these. In baseball, it never can be all of these. There’s just too much variability. But if I can have a few of these, it would be a nice year. Tops would be Mondesi turning into a star and signing a contract extension. Second would be continued development of the aforementioned starting pitching.
Hopefully we can get some clarity of the corner outfield and infield positions going forward. Who among this group is going to stick: O’Hearn, Dozier, Bonifacio, Phillips, Soler? I still think its likely that, in their heart of hearts, the front office knows that this current “wave” of players is just keeping the seats warm for the next one that’s down in A-ball right now. This is all just an exercise in seeing who can survive as a mortar guy at the major league level to plug in around the future bricks.
Have the #2 pick in the draft get off to a good start in the minors. Get some sneaky good return on veterans like Owings, Boxberger, and Peralta trades. If we really want to go wild, have Zimmer and Starling show something at the major league level befitting their pedigree and subsequent struggles, trade Kennedy without eating too much salary, and find a taker for Whit who gives prospects commensurate to his value even in a crowded second base market.
Hokius: If the team wins enough and has enough guys show some success in AA and AAA to make it seem plausible for the team to compete next year that’s probably the best-case scenario. But if they lose a whole bunch of games so they have another high draft pick next year and the guys on the farm have enough success to think a few might have an impact eventually that will work, too. The worst case scenario might be that the team is hot enough that Dayton Moore feels justified in trading some of the farm chips for mid-season rentals to see if they can sneak into the playoffs. That’s basically what happened in 2016 when Dayton Moore made perhaps the worst trade of his tenure in giving up Matt Strahm and Esteury Ruiz - a pair of guys the team sure seems likely to miss in the near future - for what ended up being absolutely no gain.
Another successful season scenario would be any result in which this whole speed thing looks like a good strategy. If Dayton Moore can show us all how stupid we were to doubt him for grabbing a bunch of low-OBP speedsters to put pressure on defenses or whatever that might end up looking like a success. Unless it works well enough to convince whatever teams out there who are still willing to spend to gobble up all of those speedsters before the Royals can in 2020 and/or beyond before the Royals have a chance to use the strategy to actually have a playoff run. Then it would be an unsuccessful season and we could spend the entire off-season blasting him for having a genius out-of-the-box idea but not implementing it in a way or at a time where it would actually do them any good.
Josh Keiser: I think a successful Royals season would need to look a lot like the 2nd half of last season, a few successful and impactful trades at the deadline, and hitting on the #2 pick in June. Most of those results will not be accurately judged until the next few years, but there is potential that they can be an exciting team to watch AND continue to rebuild the farm. Other teams can have their cake and eat it too, why can’t we?
What about you? What do you think would constitute a successful season?