As the 2018 season nears and the White Sox get ready to take on the rest of the American League, we're taking a team-by-team look at all 14 of their opponents.
What’s there to know about the Kansas City Royals?
When the Royals win, Kauffman Stadium plays the Beatles’ rip-roaring cover of Little Richard’s cover of “Kansas City.” When the Royals lose, Kauffman Stadium plays the Wilbert Harrison original, a more slow-paced version befitting the fans’ less-than-celebratory mood.
Expect to hear a lot more Wilbert Harrison than Paul McCartney this summer.
The Crowns got stripped of their finest jewels this offseason, Eric Hosmer departing for the San Diego Padres and Lorenzo Cain heading back to the Milwaukee Brewers. It seemed to signal the end of the Royals’ nice run in recent seasons that featured back-to-back trips to the World Series, a championship in 2015 and four straight finishes of .500 or higher, no small feat for a historically ill-fated franchise. The front office has already launched into rebuilding mode after a lengthy rebuild finally yielded not even a half decade of results. Back under .500 last season, Royals fans were left to saltening up their barbecue sauce. (With tears, get it?)
Mike Moustakas is back, a casualty of this weird offseason. One season after setting a Royals franchise record with 38 home runs, who knows how he’ll feel or perform after signing a one-year contract worth little more than 30 percent of the qualifying offer he rejected.
Jon Jay and Lucas Duda were other late-in-the-offseason signings that are supposed to slide right into the Crown’s less-than-terrifying lineup. Whit Merrifield and Salvador Perez ought to provide a decent-enough middle of the order alongside Moustakas. But beyond that? Jorge Soler was horrendous in a small 2017 sample size, slashing .144/.245/.258 in 110 plate appearances. Alex Gordon followed up his flop of a 2016 season with an even worse 2017: a .208/.293/.315 slash line with just nine homers in 148 games. Alcides Escobar wasn’t much better at .250/.272/.357.
No matter how much brisket fans are ingesting, they won’t be happy about a lineup that puts up numbers like that. It spells doom for the Crowns with two of their best players, Hosmer and Cain, playing elsewhere.
And a team that won a World Series just three years ago with a hodgepodge of pitchers who no longer play in Kansas City has few answers in the starting rotation, either. Returning all five starters from a year ago is, in this case, not a positive. Danny Duffy had himself a nice season. Ian Kennedy and Jason Hammel did not, both sporting ERAs north of 5.00.
So this could once more be an arduous rebuilding effort for the Royals, who have no prospects currently ranked in the game’s top 100. It worked out well the last time they did this, and bringing a World Series to Kansas City was previously believed to be near impossible. So the front office gets credit there. But will the fans be willing to put up with this whole thing again so soon after just completing it?
It doesn’t look like they have much of a choice.
2017 record: 80-82, third place in AL Central
Offseason additions: Jon Jay, Lucas Duda, Ryan Goins, Wily Peralta, Blaine Boyer, Justin Grimm, Burch Smith, Brad Keller, Jesse Hahn
Offseason departures: Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Jason Vargas, Melky Cabrera, Trevor Cahill, Mike Minor, Peter Moylan
X-factor: That Royals lineup has a lot of bad numbers in it, but Whit Merrifield was actually really good last year. The second baseman was especially good after the All-Star break, when he slashed .294/.328/.469 with 12 of his 25 homers, 45 of his 78 RBIs, 20 of his 34 stolen bases and 48 of his 80 runs scored. Way to go, Whit.
1. Jon Jay, RF
2. Whit Merrifield, 2B
3. Mike Moustakas, 3B
4. Salvador Perez, C
5. Lucas Duda, 1B
6. Jorge Soler, DH
7. Alex Gordon, LF
8. Paulo Orlando, CF
9. Alcides Escobar, SS
1. Danny Duffy
2. Ian Kennedy
3. Jason Hammel
4. Jake Junis
5. Nathan Karns
Prediction: Fourth place in AL Central
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