If you’re a Kansas City Royals fan, your thoughts are likely hovering around 2014 and 2015 still.
Who can blame you?
KC went to back-to-back World Series and beat the New York Mets in 2015 to win its second world championship. Those were magical seasons after so many that weren’t.
Heck, yeah, you want to think about them. Because you don’t want to think about the here and now.
The Royals are stuck at 5-18, and it’s probably not going to get much better. There’s a stark void in talent (thank goodness Mike Moustakas took a one-year deal to return) and hardly anything to pique anyone’s interest.
There are five months left in the MLB season and it feels like the Royals have been mathematically eliminated from the American League Central race.
I had to think long and hard about even writing about the Royals. It feels like even the strongest Kansas City fans have checked out, probably for the next two or three seasons while they put their faith in general manager Dayton Moore.
He was, after all, the architect of the team that spent a couple of Octobers exciting its fan base the way they hadn’t been excited in nearly 30 years. And now, he’s going to have to do it again.
Only one problem: The prospects who will lead what Kansas City hopes is another resurgence aren’t yet in place. The players who someday could lead the Royals to another World Series – that’s the hope, at least – are likely not currently in the organization. Or they’re at the very lowest levels.
Most are probably still playing college baseball. Or high school baseball. Or Little League baseball. Or still in their mother’s wombs. Or part of a futuristic society that will never know baseball, the Royals or the legend of Bo Jackson.
We cannot foresee the future when it comes to the Royals. We can only assess the present.
And man, it’s bad.
The Royals can’t hit, and they can’t pitch. Other than that, you should take in a game.
Moustakas (.309, seven homers, 18 RBIs), is setting himself up as a gem at the trade deadline where the Royals could extract much-needed prospects from a contending team. Same with closer Kelvin Herrera, who has four saves and hasn’t given up a run in nine appearances after a couple of spotty seasons.
Jorge Soler seems to be coming into his own as a hitter and starting pitcher Jakob Junis has had a few dominant starts already.
Otherwise . . . slim pickings.
The Royals plugged some lineup gaps with first baseman Lucas Duda and outfielder Jon Jay, but they’re not long-haul guys. The return of catcher Salvador Perez, who missed the first three-plus weeks with an injury, lifts spirits.
Mostly, though, the Royals are abysmal. Three of their five wins have come against fellow AL Central misfits Detroit and Chicago. But KC has lost six games against those teams.
It’s a shame. Kauffman Stadium has been such a fun place to be for the past several seasons, but tickets are going to be hard to sell. The team is bad, there are no exciting prospects to see and outside of Moustakas, Herrera, Perez, Alex Gordon, Danny Duffy and Alcides Escobar, the connection to the glory years of 2014 and 2015 has been severed.
Junis, Jason Hammel and Ian Kennedy all have decent ERAs. Duffy has struggled with control so far, though, and the Royals really don’t have a No. 5 starter.
The bullpen, outside of Herrera and young Tim Hill, has been a mess. Royals fans would just as soon never see the likes of Brandon Maurer, Blaine Boyer or Justin Grimm again.
Those three have combined for 19.1 innings while giving up 36 hits and 38 runs.
The Royals aren’t going to stop trying, but they rank last in the majors in runs and are 27th in total bases, 24th in OPS and 27th in home runs.
On the pitching side, Kansas City ranks 30th in strikeouts, 27th in ERA (5.21) and 26th in batting average against (.260).
Isn’t this depressing?
It’s so much fun to engage with a good baseball team in the spring and summer months. This team, though, is not engaging. This team makes you want to run into the woods and cover your eyes.
What does the future hold?
Will Moore stay and lead another reboot? Is he up to the challenge – and turning a bad team into a good one is a huge challenge.
What about manager Ned Yost? He’s at the point of his career now where he could decide managing a bad team trying to get better, again, isn’t something he’s cut out for. I wouldn’t be shocked, in fact, if Yost doesn’t last the season.
The Royals are bleak and many of their fans have already checked out. There’s not much to see here, even less to discuss. This very well could be the last time I write about the Royals this season.
Unless something unexpected happens, that is. I wouldn’t count on it.