The Kansas City Royals will be playing the 2017 season with a heavy heart, following the unexpected and tragic death of pitcher Yordano Ventura, who was killed in a car accident in his home country of the Dominican Republic back in January. With a massive payroll and the majority of their veteran core set to become free agents in 2018, this season is a must-win for Kansas City before their inevitable rebuild in the years to come. The Royals pitching rotation ended the 2016 season ranked 12th in the AL with a 4.67 ERA. Danny Duffy emerged as their top ace, and will be followed by Ian Kennedy and lefty Jason Vargas. They added Travis Wood and Jason Hammel, who both inked two-year deals right before spring training, with Chris Young and Matt Strahm all competing for whatever open spots are left in Kansas City’s rotation for 2017. The bullpen was once the greatest strength for this ball club, but times have changed. With stud Wade Davis dealt to the Chicago Cubs this offseason, Greg Holland sidelined with Tommy John surgery, and other guys no longer around, the makeup of the bullpen is new, but will hopefully still get the job done. Kelvin Herrera becomes the go-to closer with Joakim Soria and potentially Strahm, as the team’s set-up men.
Shortstop Alicides Escobar is incredibly consistent with his glove, and despite a slump at the plate, was effective for all 162 games last season. Kansas City is hoping to see the emergence of Raul Mondesi at second, but if his bat doesn’t come around, look for sophomore Whit Merrifield to step in. Eric Hosmer at first base and Mike Moustakas at third, are veterans this team heavily relies on and should provide leadership for the 2017 team. In the outfield, Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Paulo Orlando are extremely solid from left to right field, and should be a strength for this team. Former Cub Jorge Soler, who was acquired in the Wade
Davis trade, has the potential snag some right field time from Orlando, if he can show improvement defensively. Elite catcher Salvador Perez will return to his post behind the plate, and will be backed up by Drew Butera.
While the future is uncertain for this Royals team, 2017 should be an exciting one in the AL Central. Fans, you won’t want to miss any on-field action so be sure to secure your Kansas City Royals tickets now for all the games this summer. You can’t beat a day at the ballpark with a cold beverage, some peanuts and the Kansas City Royals.
The Kansas City Royals are one of those franchises that are deeply underappreciated. They do not have the pennant (2) or World Series totals (1) that particularly shines when compared to the rest of the MLB. Of course, the Royals are also one of the younger teams. They were added as part of the westward expansion of the league in the 1960s and the fans suffered through some difficult seasons, but the payoff was more than worth it.
From 1975 to 1985 the team never finished lower than second in the AL West and played in the postseason seven times. The Royals reached the World Series twice, winning one. These Kansas City teams enjoyed a roster with third baseman George Brett, second baseman Frank White, and an incredible starting rotation. Somehow the team ended up with Bud Black, Danny Jackson, David Cone, and Bret Saberhagen on the mound.
This collection of talent led to a 97-win summer in 1980 and a trip to the World Series, the franchise’s first. Unfortunately, though Kansas City was finally able to take down the Yankees in the ALCS (New York had beaten the club three times), they were not able to beat the Philadelphia Phillies. Five years later, the Royals won 91 games, Brett Saberhagen won the Cy Young Award, and KC beat the Cardinals in the I-70 Series.
In the years since, the Kansas City Royals struggled to produce the kind of offense that could take the baseball team back to the postseason. The team has, however, been able to develop great pitchers, such as Zack Greinke.
Never a big spender, the club has starting rebuilding through the farm system again. But, at least the team plays its home games at Kauffman Stadium, which remains one of the most exquisite venues in professional sports, even after the retro ballpark era.