KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Spring is in the air, the start of Major League Baseball’s regular season is just under a week away, and fans of every team are looking forward to the first pitch being thrown.
Some teams go into the season knowing they have a good chance of making the playoffs and, in some cases, even making it all the way to the World Series, but other teams hope to improve their play from the previous season.
One such team is the Kansas City Royals. They finished in last place in the American League Central Division in 2022 with a 65-97 record, just one game worse than fourth-place Detroit and their fans are just hoping the team can play competitive baseball.
On Thursday’s edition of the Locked On Royals podcast, host Rylan Stiles discussed what could be the best-case scenario for the 2023 version of the Kansas City Royals. Anyone who watches baseball knows that for a team to be successful, many things have to go right. But what will make 2023 successful for the Royals?
As we already mentioned, the Royals admittedly were not good last season. Still, Styles made it a point to say, “Look, if we’re not allowed to be optimistic, if we’re not allowed to have some positivity whenever we’re a week away from Opening Day, then we’re never going to be allowed to have positivity.” He added, “I know what realistically will likely happen this season, but let’s just close our eyes and enjoy that, technically, the Royals are 0-0.”
So what does Styles think has to happen in order for the Royals to have a better season than 2022?
“The best-case scenario is based upon that lineup putting together a great season," Stiles said.
Here is the Royals’ projected lineup, according to RotoChamp:
Bobby Witt Jr.
That’s a pretty good lineup up top, with Pasquantino cleaning up and hitting fourth. He hit 10 home runs in 72 games in 2022, batted .295/.383/.450 in his Royals debut season, and could get better. Another rookie Styles mentioned who could be even better in 2023 is Bobby Witt Jr., who is projected to be a superstar eventually. No pressure. He hit 20 home runs in his rookie campaign, batted .254/.294/.428 in 150 games, and finished fourth in the AL Rookie of the Year vote.
Then there’s veteran Salvador Perez, who is always a threat to hit home runs sliding in ahead of Pasquantino. He’s the grizzled veteran of the lineup who had his best season in 2021 when he clobbered 48 home runs.
Styles is also optimistic about the pitching. Brady Singer made strides in the second half of 2022 and finished with a 10-5 record with a 3.23 ERA in 24 starts. He also struck out 150 batters.
The Royals signed Jordan Lyles and Ryan Yarbrough this off-season. They also have veteran Zack Greinke returning, and while these guys, as Styles said on his show, won’t win you any Cy Youngs, they’ll keep you in games.
“When you have guys who can keep you in games, and you have a lineup that looks to be kind of explosive, it actually bodes well when you factor in the bullpen as well," Stiles said.
He mentioned Scott Barlow and Carlos Hernandez as guys to look out for in 2023. Hernandez posted a 7.39 ERA in 2022, but he looked good at the WBC when pitching for Team Venezuela, so a best-case for him is to build up that performance and carry it into the 2023 season.
Style reiterates a few times during the show that this is all speculation (obviously), and everything is, ‘if this happens’ or ‘if that happens,’ but you can say that for every other team in Major League Baseball, not just the Royals.
So what is the best-case scenario for the Royals in 2023? It’s everyone on the team playing to their potential, improving on 2022’s performance, and finishing in a higher position in the division standings when the end of the regular season arrives.
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