The Kansas City Royals will begin the 2020 season with not only a new manager but also a new owner. After consecutive seasons of losing more than 100 games, what does the new season hold in store for the Royals?
Well, I’ve eight bold predictions for the Kansas City Royals in 2020. My predictions range from thoughts on the starting rotation to the bullpen to the manager to the front office.
Like I did last season with a mere five bold predictions, I’ll check back in after the season to see how I did. But for now, as they say, hope springs eternal, and with Spring sort of already here, I’m hoping for a number of these nine predictions to come true.
Let’s start with No. 56.
Bold Prediction No. 1: Brad Keller Receives a Cy Young Award Vote
I’m sure that you know, of course, that Zack Greinke is the last Kansas City Royals pitcher to win the Cy Young Award, having done so in 2009.
In fact, it turns out that Greinke isn’t just the last Royals pitcher to have won the award, but he’s also a) the last Royals starting pitcher to receive consideration and b) the last Royals pitcher to receive a first-place vote. The last time any Royals pitcher received consideration for the award came in 2015 when Wade Davis placed fifth.
Now, don’t expect Brad Keller to win the Cy Young Award this season, but I expect him to blossom into one of the American League’s top starting pitcher, and thus garner some national attention and receive consideration for the award. He may not even get a first-place vote, but that’s okay. His merely placing in, say, the top seven would be a major step forward for a rotation that’s been in the dumps lately.
Keller’s entering his third full season in the Majors as a 24-year-old who turns 25 in July. Last season, he digressed slightly as he threw about 15 more innings, which included making eight more starts than he had in 2018. Ignore his record and pay attention to his first- and second-half splits in 2019.
As you can see, his strikeout-to-walk ratio skyrocketed as opposing batters posted significantly lower cumulative batting average, on-base percentage, and OPS against him in the second half of the season. His strikeouts per nine innings also rose as his WHIP sunk. Oddly, in the first half last year, he hit nine batters. In the second half? That’d be a nice, round goose egg.
It will be important for Keller to start off 2020 stronger than he did last year. If he does that, and adds some more games started and innings to his ledger, he could surprise the entire league by getting that Cy Young Award attention.