Kansas City Royals: Where did it all go wrong in 2019?

Kansas City Royals mascots Sluggerrr (Photo by John Sleezer/Getty Images)
Kansas City Royals mascots Sluggerrr (Photo by John Sleezer/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire) (Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
(Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire) (Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images) /

The Kansas City Royals will end 2019 with their third straight losing season and second straight season of 90 or more losses. Where did it all go wrong in 2019?

The combination of poor offseason transactions, pitching, injuries, performance, and just flat out bad luck have contributed to another season of 90+ losses for the Kansas City Royals. The following is a detailed outline of all of the factors related to the disappointing 2019 season with some hope for the 2020 season.

FA Agent Signings and Transactions

In hindsight, the KC Royals had a disastrous off-season with five out of nine free agent signings decisions failing and one preseason decision to waive a player who would put together a breakout season in the outfield.

What went wrong:

  • Chris Owings (Utility) – Released 6/4/19, provided .133/.193/.222 in 135 ABs. Expected to be a super utility player with average defense at multiple positions and speed on the base paths. Wasn’t able to find his bat to necessitate any further at bats on a developing Royals roster. Failed to provide enough value to be a possible trade deadline option for a contender.
  • Lucas Duda (First Base) – Released 7/28/19, provided .171/.252/.324 in 105 ABs. Wasn’t able to find any of the success he had with the Mets as a power bat.
  • Billy Hamilton (Center Field) – Waived 8/19/19, provided .211/.275/.269 in 275 ABs. Provided outstanding defense, but wasn’t able to get on-base enough to utilized his game changing speed. Hamilton presented the Royals with the opportunity of cashing in big if he made adjustments to his offensive game to get on-base at higher rate, but those adjustments were fantasy as Hamilton produced similar to his career line.
  • Brad Boxberger (Relief Pitcher) – Released 7/1/19, had a 5.40 ERA and 1.575 WHIP in 26.2 innings of relief. Boxberger was never able to find the success he had in Tampa as a late inning reliever. An elevated walk rate and being removed from high leverage duty caused Boxberger’s value to plummet. The low-risk, high reward investment didn’t pan out for the Royals, who elected to release Boxberger.
  • Drew Storen (Relief Pitcher) – Released 6/19/19, never made it to MLB roster. Wasn’t able to throw strikes consistently and when he was able to throw strikes they tended to get hit hard. The Royals weren’t able to cash in on the low-risk, high reward investment.
  • Waived Brian Goodwin (Outfielder) prior to season start – Started season hot for Angels and has provided a .287/.349/.515 with 15 HRs (44 extra base hits) in 334 ABs as of 9/1/19. Unfortunately the Royals waived Goodwin in the preseason only to have him put together a breakout season statistically, making him the third most valuable Royal offensively and the fifth most valuable Royal overall.
  • Returned Rule 5 pick Chris Ellis (Pitcher) to Cardinals 4/9/19 – Lost roster spot in favor of retaining Homer Bailey and Brad Boxberger. Ellis deserved more of chance to stick on the roster based on the performance of the Royals bullpen and starting rotation this season. Ellis flashed some potential as a long innings reliever and could have provided some value to a battered bullpen.