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(Kansas City Royals)

(Kansas City Royals)

2023 Season

Season Recap: The Royals lost 106 games to tie a team record, but there were a few highlights during a difficult season. Shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. became the first KC player with a 30-homer 30-steal season, while Zack Greinke won the final game of his 20-year career. The Royals have the makings of a solid offense, with Witt and emerging stars Maikel Garcia, Nelson Vealzquez, and Vinnie Pasquantino. Lefty Cole Ragans leads a pitching staff that needs some better arms before the team returns to its old winning ways.

August 4, 2023: Bobby Witt Jr. homered against the Phillies to become the first player in history with at least 20 home runs and 30 stolen bases in each of his first two seasons.

May 13, 2023: Zack Greinke struck out Joey Weimer of the Brewers, making him the 1,000th different batter Greinke has struck out in his career. Only four pitchers—Walter Johnson, Nolan Ryan, Greg Maddux, and Roger Clemens—have accomplished this feat.

Season Preview:  There are a lot of new faces in Kansas City, including a new manager, pitching coach, and team president. No one expects a trip to the playoffs quite yet, but the Royals made improvements to their pitching by signing free agents Aroldis Chapman, Ryan Yarbrough, and Jordan Lyles—as well as adding veteran hitters Jackie Bradley Jr. and Franmil Reyes. If they all perform like they can, the Royals have a chance to play .500 ball, especially if star shortstop Bobby Witt and his keystone partner Michael Massey continue to improve. Brad Keller and Zack Greinke round out an experienced pitching staff that must stay healthy from the team to improve.

2022 Season

Season Recap: Kansas City fans were preparing themselves to watch a 100-loss team, but it wasn’t quite that bad. The Royals went 65–97 and played very well at times. Rookie star Bobby Witt stole 30 bases and hit 20 homers, while Salvador Perez led the club with 23 round-trippers. Another rookie, MJ Melendez, showed good power while catching and playing the outfield. Andrew Benintendi was hitting over .300 when he was traded to the Yankees in July, after representing Kansas City in the All-Star Game. Brady Singer was the Royals’ best pitcher, going 10–5 with a 3.23 ERA.

Season Preview: What the Royals are missing in “star power” they make up for with hard work, solid talent, and a positive attitude. Catcher Salvador Perez, coming off a historic power season, leads a lineup that includes fellow slugger Carlos Santana and baseball’s brightest rookie star, Bobby Witt Jr. In an era of big bats, KC will win games with their legs, too. Speedsters Adalberto Mondesi, Nicky Lopez, Michael Taylor, and Whit Merrifield should create a lot of havoc on the base paths in 2022. Brad Keller leads a pitching staff that added six-time All-Star Zach Greinke over the winter.

2021 Season

Season Recap: Despite a monster year from catcher Salvador Perez, the Royals played so-so baseball much of the season. Whit Merrifield led the AL in stolen bases for a third time, Nicky Lopez showed he was a quality big-league shortstop, and Perez was tops in the majors with 121 RBIs and 48 home runs. Unfortunately, the team’s starting pitching was a mess at times because of injuries, and the KC bullpen wasn’t much better.

Season Preview: Carlos Santana and Andrew Benintendi join a lineup that stars sluggers Jorge Soler and Salvador Perez, and speedy Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi. Is this enough to play .500 baseball this summer? That may come down to pitching. Kansas City has lots of good arms, including Brad Keller and newcomer Mike Minor.

2020 Season

Season Recap: The Royals were a terror on the base paths, with Adelberto Mondesi leading the major leagues with 24 stolen bases. Their hitting and pitching did not get the job done, however. Among the standouts for Kansas City in a 26–34 season were young starting pitchers Brad Keller and Brady Singer, and catcher Salvador Perez. Jorge Soler, last year’s AL home run champion, hit only 8 in 2020.

Season Preview: The Royals will be swinging for the fences in 2020 with a power-packed lineup that includes Salvador Perez, Jorge Soler, Mikael Franco, and Whit Merrifield. Jakob Junis, Brad Keller, Danny Duffy and top prospect Brady Singer make up the starting pitching. Trevor Rosenthal, a former All-Star in the NL, will get the ball in the ninth inning when KC is in the lead.

2019 Season

Season Recap: The Royals lost 100 games for the second year in a row, but there are signs of better days ahead. Whit Merrifield was KC’s best player again, leading the league in hits for the second year in a row and making the All-Star Game for the first time. Jorge Soler got his first chance to play every day and became the AL’s home run king. And shortstop Adalberto Mondesi used his blinding speed to steal 43 bases and become the team’s most exciting young player.

September 29, 2019: Jorge Soler blasted his 48th home run to set a single-season record for Cuban-born players. The old record was held by Rafael Palmeiro.

Season Preview: New center fielder Billy Hamilton should put a charge into the Kansas City crowd and drive opposing pitchers crazy with his speed. He teams with Sal Perez, Whit Merrifield, and Alex Gordon to put runs on the scoreboard (and keep them off, too). The KC pitchers had a good September in 2018. If they continue to get big outs in 2019, the Royals could be a factor in the division race.

2018 Season

Season Recap: A disastrous April and even-worse June set the stage for a 104-loss season in Kansas City just three years after winning the World Series. As always, the hitters put the ball in play, but there were a lot more outs than hits. Whit Merrifield as the AL stolen base leader again, and was the lone Royal to hit .300. Their ace closer, Kelvin Herrera, was traded to the Nationals in July.

Season Preview: The team that won the World Series in 2015 has been broken up, and Royals fans wonder how long it will take to rebuild a winner. The team has a handful of quality players in the minors, as well as a tone of picks in the 2018 draft and a couple of valuable trading pieces in Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas, and Danny Duffy. Their best player, catcher Salvador Perez, will likely remain in Kansas City to lead the next version of the Royals over the next few years.

2017 Season

Season Recap: The Royals challenged the Indians for the AL Central lead in July, but in August the team’s hitting dried up at the same time Cleveland went on a big winning streak. Kansas City finished the year 80–82, five games out of the Wild Card. Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Whit Merrifield, and Lorenzo Cain had good years at the plate, but the pitching staff fell short of expectations.

September 19, 2017: Alex Gordon hit the 5,694th home run of the 2017 Major League Baseball Season. That broke the record for most homers in a year, set in 2000.

July 11, 2017: Catcher Salvador Perez started the 2017 All-Star Game. It was his fifth All-Star appearance.

2016 Season

November 1, 2016: The rest of the league finally figured out how to stop the Royals, who finished the year 81–81. Team leaders Salvador Perez and Eric Hosmer were good as always, but the team could not get big hits or big outs as it had in 2014 and 2015. Danny Duffy led the club with a dozen victories and Kendrys Morales was tops with 30 home runs.

August 1, 2016: Danny Duffy set a new club record when he struck out 16 batters in a victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

2015 Season

Season Roundup: The Royals began the year with the goal of reaching the World Series again—and winning it. The team used speed, defense and clutch hitting to win the AL Central. They scored amazing comebacks all year long, and continued to battle in the playoffs and World Series, where they beat the Mets 4 games to 1. Kansas City’s offense was led by Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Slavador Perez, and newcomer Kendrys Morales. Their main pitching strength was a bullpen full of flamethrowers. After their victory over the Mets, Perez was named World Series MVP, but there were at least 4 or 5 others who could have won the award in the Royals’ total team effort.

April 13, 2015: Rookie Paul Orlando became the first player in history to begin his big-league career with three triples as his first three hits.

April 5, 2015: The defending AL champs will have to play great ball to earn a berth in the playoffs this season. Ace James Shields is in the NL, and the batting stars of the playoffs and World Series have to prove they can do it over the course of an entire season. Kansas City will need another big year from their relief pitchers and defense, too.

2014 Season

November 15, 2014: Three Royals were honored with Gold Gloves for their fielding excellence—catcher Salvador Perez, first baseman Eric Hosmer, and outfielder Alex Gordon.

October 30, 2014: Kansas City’s young and talented core players came through to earn a Wild Card berth and then went on a roll that lasted all the way to Game 7 of the World Series. Among the team leaders were Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain. The Royals’ bullpen was practically unhittable, with great years from Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera, and Greg Holland. The Royals defeated the ‘s in the Wild Card game in 12 innings, then beat the Angels in the Division Series (with two more extra-inning wins), and finally swept the Orioles in the ALCS. Their great year came to end when they could not solve Madison Bumgarner of the Giants in the World Series, losing 4 games to 3—with three losses coming at the hands of the San Francisco ace.

March 31, 2014: The Royals’ young hitters are ready to become stars, and now they have a real leadoff hitter—Norichia Aoki—to set the table for them. Mike Moustakas, Billy Butler and Alex Gordon could all be All-Stars, and Salvador Perez might be the top catcher in the AL by the end of the year. KC’s pitching staff is led by James Shields and Greg Holland.

2013 Season

October 1, 2013: Kansas City fans got an unexpected surprise when the Royals had their first winning season in 10 years. James Shields was the ace of a pitching staff than included closer Greg Holland, who saved 47 games. The offense was a group effort that featured Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon, and Billy Butler. The Royals were in the Hunt for a Wild Card spot until the final weeks of the season.

September 26, 2013: Greg Holland broke the team record for saves with his 46th of the year. The old record was shared by Dan Quisenberry and Jeff Montgomery.

March 30, 2013: Kansas City fans are looking forward to their first winning season since 2003. They have young hitters and experienced pitchers, including newcomer James Shields, an All-Star for the Rays in 2011.

2012 Season

October 3, 2012: The Royals put one of baseball’s youngest and most exciting teams on the field in 2012. Billy Butler led the club in homers, RBIs, and batting average, while Alex Gordon led the AL with 51 doubles. Shortstop Alcides Escobar took a step toward superstardom with his excellent fielding, hitting and base running.

August 18, 2012: Alcides Escobar had four infield hits in a game against the Chicago White Sox. It marked the first time in nearly a decade that a big-leaguer had reached base safely four times without reaching the outfield grass.

April, 2012: The Royals added one of baseball’s premier left-handed strikeout artists over the winter, Jonathan Sanchez. It cost them Melky Cabrera, who had a career year for Kansas City in 2011. Lorenzo Cain will finally get a chance to be an everyday player in 2012, as he is the player most likely to succeed Melky in center field.

More Go-To Guys

Larry Gura was nothing special when he pitched for the Chicago Cubs in the early 1970s . After he joined the Royals, he became a terrific pitcher. (Kansas City Royals)

To this day, Mark Gubicza is one of the most popular Royals. He pitched his heart out for the team. (Topps, Inc.)

There’s something about this David DeJesus card I really like. It reminds me of the cards from the early 1950s. (Topps, Inc.)

The Royals saw star quality in Joakim Soria, and he didn’t let them down. Good going KC! (Author’s Collection)

  • Freddie Patek — Shortstop
    Born: 10/9/1944
    Played for Team: 1971 to 1979
    When the Royals traded for Freddie Patek, everyone thought of him as a utility player. Patek proved them wrong in his first season with Kansas City. He led the AL in triples and finished sixth in the MVP voting.

  • John Mayberry — First Baseman
    Born: 2/18/1949
    Played for Team; 1972 to 1977
    John Mayberry was the Royals’ first true power hitter. He slugged 25 homers and had 100 RBIs in his first season. In his second season, Mayberry led the league in walks. Altogether, “Big John” hit 143 homers for the Royals.

  • Larry Gura — Pitcher
    Born: 11/26/1947
    Played for Team: 1976 to 1985
    Larry Gura was part of the team’s starting rotation for seven years. During that time, he won 114 games and helped the team reach the World Series in 1980.

  • Mark Gubicza — Pitcher
    Born: 8/14/1962
    Played for Team: 1984 to 1996
    When Mark Gubicza had his best stuff, few pitchers in baseball were better. “Gubes” battled injuries throughout his career, but he still managed to win 132 games and pitch 16 shutouts.

  • Steve Balboni — First Baseman
    Born: 1/16/1957
    Played for Team: 1984 to 1988
    Steve “Bye-Bye” Balboni supplied the power for Kansas City in the mid 1980s. He led the team in homers three years in a row. Balboni also struck out more than 450 times in those three seasons.

  • Kevin Appier — Pitcher
    Born: 12/6/1967
    Played for Team: 1989 to 1999 & 2003 to 2004
    The Royals did not have much succees during Kevin Appier’s years with the team, but Appier was one of the best pitchers in baseball. In 1992, he won nine games in a row and had the AL’s second-best ERA. In 1993, he pitched 33 straight scorless innings and won the ERA title with a mark of 2.56.

  • David DeJesus — Outfielder
    Born: 12/20/1979
    Played for Team: 2003 to 2010
    David DeJesus took over center field after Carlos Beltran was traded in 2004. He became one of the team’s most consistent hitters and popular players.

  • Zack Greinke — Pitcher
    Born: 10/21/1983
    Played for Team: 2004 to 2010
    It took Zack Greinke a few years to become a complete pitcher, but once he did there was no stopping him. In 2009, he went 16–8 and led the league with a 2.16 ERA. Greinke won the AL Cy Young Award for his performance.

  • Billy Butler — Designated Hitter
    Born: 4/18/1986
    Played for Team: 2007 to 2014
    Billy Butler was Kansas City’s first pick in the 2004 draft. He made it to the majors at 21, and four years later he was one of the best all-around hitters in the American League.

  • Joakim Soria — Pitcher
    Born: 5/18/1984
    First Year with Team: 2007 to 2017
    Joakim Soria was unwanted by the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. The Royals grabbed him, and he quickly became one of baseball’s best closers. He was an All-Star in 2008 and 2010, and saved his 150th game in 2011.

  • Salvador Perez — Catcher
    Born: 5/10/1990
    First Season with Team: 2011
    Soon after joining the Royals, Salvador Perez earned a reputation as a clutch hitter and fine defensive catcher. “Salvy” led the team to the pennant in 2015 and was named MVP in Kansas City’s World Series victory over the Mets that fall.

More Fun Facts

This is one of the cooler Sports Illustrated covers I can remember. I think that it must have been a posed shot, not during a game. (Time Inc./Sports Illustrated)

    Many players have hit three home runs in a game, but only a few have hit all three off the same Hall of Famer. In 1975, John Mayberry blasted three homers in a game against Fergie Jenkins of the Texas Rangers. Jenkins was a top pitcher—he had led the AL in victories the year before.

    Zack Greinke finished the 2008 season with 14 scoreless innings in a row. He began 2009 by not allowing a run in his first 24 innings. His 38 consecutive scoreless innings set a new team record.

    George Brett won batting titles in 1976, 1980, and 1990. He is the only player in history to be a batting champion in three different decades.

    Fans of the University of Maryland football team probably don’t like the Royals very much. Two players recruited as running backs by the Terrapins ended up quitting football to play with the Royals—Willie Wilson and Dermal Brown.

League Leaders

You can really see how small Freddie Patek was on his 1973 baseball card. That baserunner is almost a foot taller than Freddie. (Topps, Inc.)

New York Yankees fans had no love for Dennis Leonard, but you had to admire his toughness. That man could pitch! (Fleer Corp.)

  • Home Runs
    2019 — Jorge Soler — 48
    2021 — Salvador Perez — 48*

    * Tied with another player

  • Batting Average
    1976 — George Brett — .333
    1980 — George Brett — .390
    1982 — Willie Wilson — .332
    1990 — George Brett — .329

  • Runs Batted In
    1982 — Hal McRae — 133
    2021 — Salvador Perez — 121

  • Stolen Bases
    1971 — Amos Otis — 52
    1977 — Freddie Patek — 53
    1979 — Willie Wilson — 83
    2000 — Johnny Damon — 46
    2017 — Whit Merrifield — 34
    2018 — Whit Merrifield — 45
    2020 — Adelberto Mondesi — 24
    2021 — Whit Merrifield — 40

  • Wins
    1977 — Dennis Leonard — 20
    1989 — Bret Saberhagen — 23
    2017 — Jason Vargas — 18*

    *Tied with two other players

  • Strikeouts
    No Royal has led the league in strikeouts.

  • Earned Run Average
    1989 — Bret Saberhagen — 2.16
    1993 — Kevin Appier — 2.56

Royals In The World Series

1980 Philadelphia Phillies Lost 4–2
1985 St. Louis Cardinals Won 4–3
2014 San Francisco Giants Lost 4–3

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