Minnesota Twins: How the Rest of the AL Central can become Contenders
Minnesota Twins AL Central Competitor No. 3: Kansas City Royals
Lastly, we come down to the Kansas City Royals. Despite having a losing record for the last four seasons, the Royals still seem to be at the very beginning of what is likely to be a long rebuild. Despite winning the World Series just five years ago, no team in the division is in a worse spot.
How did this happen though? Simple. When their championship winning core started to fall apart in 2016, they never traded away assets like Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Danny Duffy before they hit free agency or lost value, meaning they had very little to build around.
To make matters worse, a lot of their first round picks haven’t panned out, and their farm system is just entering the Top 10 despite four really rough seasons. It’s finally turning around now though. With World Series winning manager Ned Yost riding off into the sunset after 2019, they are trying to turn the page with former Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.
Matheny, who was very solid with the Cardinals, has a few pieces that are useful on offense. All-Star Whit Merrifield (.282/.325/.440) and ageless wonder Salvador Perez (.333/.335/.633) are both in place, while Adalberto Mondesi (.256/.294/.416) continues to grow as a player. Jorge Soler’s power is one-dimensional, but he produces incredible numbers.
The biggest issue in Kauffman Stadium is on the mound. The pitching staff is ranked 19th in baseball according to FanGraphs, and while Brad Keller and Brady Singer look really promising, the rest of the rotation and bullpen is absolutely awful.
The chances of the Royals contending is virtually zero. Even if they find some good reclamation projects and add a couple more pitchers, the team would still need Brad Keller to win the Cy Young and for Brady Singer to make a monster step forward AND the offense would need a breakout from an unknown player to keep them competitive.
The Royals should forget competing with the Minnesota Twins for the Central in 2021, and instead try and compete for the number one overall pick in 2022 to bring in more elite young talent to go with Bobby Witt Jr. and Asa Lacy. Trading new acquisition Carlos Santana, Merrifield, Perez, and maybe even Duffy if he finds his form would be a big help. This team has a long way to go.