Royals continue struggles in lost season

Alex Burbidge, Reporter

The 2018 season has not gotten any better for the Kansas City Royals. Less than three years removed from a World Series championship, the Royals now have the second-worst record in MLB at 46-93, as of September 7.

If they keep up their pace, the final record will be 54-108, which would be the worst season in Royals history, besting a 56-106 finish by the infamous 2005 squad.

How did the Royals get to this point of futility? Awful performances from experienced veterans like Danny Duffy, Alcides Escobar, Jason Hammel and Brandon Maurer have lost more games than most people have expected. 2018 has been the worst year for many players’ careers, something that has all culminated in to one giant trash show.

However, there have been some bright spots this season. The rise of little-known players such as Brad Keller, Kevin McCarthy, Adalberto Mondesi and Ryan O’Hearn have been exciting to watch and offer a glimpse into what could very well be the future of Royals baseball.

O’Hearn in particular has been an interesting case; he’s only hitting .259 at the Major League level since his call-up on July 31, but he has a .960 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage), which is well above the league average of .729. He has also shattered Mark Quinn’s franchise record for most home runs in the first 25 games of a Major League career with 9 long balls.

Jorge Lopez, acquired in the Mike Moustakas trade, also thrilled Royals fans when he was three outs away from throwing the first perfect game in Royals history, and 24th in MLB history on September 8 against the Minnesota Twins. Had he kept the no-hitter, it would have been the Royals’ first since 1991, when Bret Saberhagen no-hit the Chicago White Sox. Though he lost the perfect game and no-hitter in the bottom of the ninth, it offered a glimpse into what could be the future of the starting rotation.

Many Royals fans feared that losing Eric Hosmer would put the team in this situation, however had he not left for San Diego the Royals would likely only have three or four more wins than they currently do. The same goes for Moustakas, who was traded on July 27 to the Milwaukee Brewers. Batting .249, he would have played major part in one or two more wins, which would not have been worth keeping.

However, an early-September surge by the team gave them a season-high six game winning streak, doubling the previous season-high of three. Powered by walk-off homers by Whit Merrifield and Hunter Dozier, the Royals won eight of nine games from August 24 through September 4.

September call-ups have also already made a major impact on the team. Jerry Vasto, acquired in the Drew Butera trade on August 31, was part of the bullpen that saved Danny Duffy after a horrendous outing. Meibrys Viloria smacked an RBI double for his first Major League hit, even though he never played a game above Single-A.

The good news is that the only way to go is up. Assuming the standings stay as they are, the Royals will have the second overall pick in the 2019 draft, with the first pick going to the even worse Baltimore Orioles, who are on pace to finish 48-114. Small market teams must rely on good draft positions to get better; hence why the 2016 and 2017 teams were not good because not only were multiple top prospects traded, but many have not worked out as planned, notably Christian Colon, Ashe Russell, Bubba Starling and Kyle Zimmer. To once again be on top of the baseball world, smart draft picks must be developed into future Major League stars.