2022 Kansas City Royals Preview

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2022 Kansas City Royals Preview

The Kansas City Royals are looking to contend with the added spots in the expanded playoffs. Do they have enough? Zack Greinke returns, and they have some young prospects ready to contribute. The success this year is going to be based on the improvement of their starting pitching and some of the players’ potential. However, that “potential” must manifest sooner rather than later.

2021 in Review

The Royals, surprisingly, had a great start in 2021. On May 1, they were in first place at 16-9. They proceeded to lose 11 games in a row and wound up finishing up the season with a 74-88 record. Overall, their pitching staff was the main culprit of the decline in 2021. They ranked in the bottom half of most pitching statistics. Out of the 30 MLB teams, their 4.65 ERA was 21st. The .251 batting average against their pitchers had them ranked 22nd. They also ranked 21st in runs allowed, with 4.86 per game.

There were a few bright spots for the team, however. One was catcher Salvador Perez, who had a tremendous season. Offensively, his 48 home runs tied for first in baseball. It also tied the franchise single-season home run total. He also set a career high in RBI, with an AL-leading 121. He also picked up his fourth Silver Slugger award.

There was also Nicky Lopez, who led all qualifying AL shortstops with a .987 fielding percentage. He set career highs in games played, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, and RBI. Lopez did all that while hitting .300.

Starting Staff 2022

Any preview of the Kansas City Royals needs to mention that the 2022 starting staff must be better if the Royals are going to be successful enough to contend. Zack Greinke, who returns to the Royals, should help with some of that. The team will rely on him to be the workhorse at the top of the rotation. Kris Bubic, Carlos Hernández, Brad Keller, and Daniel Lynch look to round out the starting staff.

Yes, bringing back veteran Greinke to anchor a young rotation was a great move. His experience and leadership should help the young starters take another step forward in their development. If this happens, the Royals pitching staff could surprise some people in 2022.

One pitcher to look at for a breakout season could be Hernández. He went 6-2 in 2021 with a 3.68 ERA. He pitched 85 2/3 innings and recorded 74 strikeouts. He needs to be that lock-down pitcher if the Royals want any success. With his four-seam fastball in the 96-98 MPH range on a regular basis and a sinker that keeps hitters guessing, he could do it.

The 2022 Bullpen

The Royals bullpen may have a lot of pressure on them, especially early in the season, and they must perform. With a young starting staff — other than Greinke — this relief corps will be called upon to bail out the starters and hold the lead for the win. The problem for them is that this might mean being called on for more innings leading to bullpen fatigue. They need to be ready for this.

Scott Barlow might be one of the most underrated closers in baseball. He quietly saved 16 games last season and has a 2.42 ERA. Though he did blow six saves, he converted ten of his last 11. Look for him to be the main closer for 2022.

Brady Singer was competing for a starting job. At this point, however, he will pitch in relief. Last season, he made 27 starts, the second most on the club, but he struggled. He went 5-10 with a 4.91 ERA in 128 1/3 innings. Opponents batted .281 against him. Singer will be called on in a variety of pitching situations from long relief to set-up and could see an occasional start.

The Offensive Outlook

On paper, we can see that the Royals have a well-rounded lineup with hitters that can provide power, extra base hits, and speed. But there are some questions that need to be answered. As mentioned, Salvador Perez was an offensive standout last season. Will be repeat his 2021 numbers? Can Hunter Dozier, bounce back from his .216 average? He also must improve on his strikeouts. Will shortstop Adalberto Mondesi, who impacts the game with his power and speed, stay healthy? The Royals need Carlos Santana to start off well and avoid the deep slumps. Can Santana, who just turned 36, hit better than the .214 he recorded. Will his age affect his ability to play another 150+ games — or play them effectively?

Bobby Witt, Jr.

Any preview of the 2022 Kansas City Royals must include Bobby Witt, Jr. He made the Opening Day roster and although he came up as shortstop, he will play third base. Considered the number two prospect in all of baseball, Witt immediately becomes a Rookie of the Year favorite in the AL. Witt is considered a power-hitting infielder. He hit 33 home runs in 124 games split between Double-A and Triple-A last season.

Witt is everything you need in a baseball player. He is considered a legitimate five-tool player. One that can hit for power, hit for average, has speed and is skilled in fielding and the throwing element. It could take time to adjust to third base, but he has a chance to become a top-notch fielder at third. He might struggle offensively some early on as he adjusts to MLB-level pitching, but he has the tools, the physical build, and the mind-set to become a superstar at the plate. The statement the Royals made by giving him a roster spot should excite not just Royals fans, but all baseball fans.

Good Dilemma to have for 2022

What do the 2022 Royals do with their plethora of shortstops? Even though his natural position is shortstop, the Royals chose to play Bobby Witt, Jr at third base. They did that move so they could keep Adalberto Mondesi, another excellent fielder, at short. The issue with Mondesi is his health. He must remain healthy and in starting condition. When he is healthy and on the field, he has shown moments of being an excellent player with his mix of speed, power, and excellent fielding. He just hasn’t been able to stay healthy.

Nicky Lopez played shortstop last season and wowed all with his defense. He moves to second base. However, Lopez’s return to second forces Whit Merrifield out of the infield. Merrifield will now see time as the starting right fielder. At age 33, the 2021 All-Star played in all 162 games. He set highs in at-bats, doubles, and stolen bases. A move to the outfield means less strain on his body over the long season.

The good news is that if Mondesi gets injured, shifts can be made back to shore up the infield.

2022 Kansas City Royals Outlook

Preview Kansas City Royals 2022: The Royals could sneak up on some teams and be competitive. The Royals play in a weak AL Central, which should help, especially with the expanded six-team postseason this year. They play great defense, with that Gold Glove-caliber feel. They steal bases more than other teams. If what we see on paper translates to the field during the season—and the team can avoid the long losing streaks—the Royals have a good chance to compete in late September and possibly make a playoff push.

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Players mentioned:

Zack Greinke, Salvador Perez, Nicky Lopez, Kris Bubic, Carlos Hernández, Brad Keller, Daniel Lynch, Scott BarlowBrady Singer, Hunter Dozier, Adalberto Mondesi, Carlos Santana, Whit Merrifield