Don’t sleep on the Kansas City Royals in 2021, folks. They could be sneaky good this year.
After trading for Andrew Benintendi and making some key free-agent signings this offseason, the Kansas City Royals have the ability to really surprise people this year. They were projected to win just 71 games by PECOTA, but that was prior to their trade for Benintendi and that’s going to add a few wins to their total.
David Adler of MLB.com put together a list of seven MLB teams who are going to be better than people think and the Royals came in at No. 3 on said list. Here was the first part of Adler’s blurb on the Royals
"Now that they’ve traded for Andrew Benintendi, they actually have a lot of good hitters in their lineup — Benintendi, Jorge Soler, Whit Merrifield, Carlos Santana, Hunter Dozier — plus the elite speed threat of Adalberto Mondesi. Think about this: the Royals’ lineup has a potential home run leader (Soler, the 2019 AL leader), hits leader (Merrifield, the MLB leader in 2018 and ’19) and stolen base leader (Mondesi, the 2020 MLB leader)."
I wrote an article the other day about how the Royals’ lineup is going to be sneaky good and I’m glad other people are picking up on it too. The addition of Benintendi makes it a pretty dang good lineup actually and while there are some not-so-good hitters in the lineup, every team has a weakling or two in their lineup.
Adler also discussed the pitching for the Royals and that’s most definitely a bright spot for this team.
"On the pitching staff, Brady Singer could be a breakout starter in 2021 (3.98 expected ERA as a rookie based on his quality of contact allowed), Josh Staumont is the hardest-throwing reliever in baseball right now (only pitcher with a 102 mph strikeout in 2020), Brad Keller is a ground-ball machine (2.47 ERA in 2020 thanks to a 53% ground-ball rate), and if the return of Mike Minor pans out like the return of Greg Holland did last year, this staff has potential."
It’s hard not to like what Dayton Moore has done with the pitching in Kansas City. He added a plethora of collegiate pitchers in 2018 and it’s leading to what we’re about to see now where they’re all getting ready to come up and make a statement in the big leagues.
Royals fans saw Singer and Kris Bubic in action last year, but the other three taken in that 2018 draft (at least in a row) are all top 10 prospects and could be making their debuts as early as this year. There’s also No. 4 overall pick Asa Lacey who is going to be a lot of fun to watch when he is ready to make his major league debut.
I didn’t even mention the bullpen yet, which looks to be on its way back to dominant form. When the Royals were in back-to-back World Series in 2014 and 2015, they did so on the back of their bullpen. It won’t have to be as solid this time around, as the starting rotation will be better, but it’s going to be fun to see guys like Jesse Hahn, Jakob Junis, Josh Staumont, Kyle Zimmer, and Tyler Zuber tear it up in relief. Greg Holland and Wade Davis returning to KC should also make for a good time.
The Royals might not be a playoff team in 2021, but they’re certainly going to be a hell of a lot better than people think and that’s really exciting.