Kansas City Royals 2022 Season Preview

Kansas City Royals 2022 Season Preview

by March 30, 2022 1 comment

The Kansas City Royals are an up-and-coming young team that finished 74-88 last season after losing over 100 games in 2019. It has now been six years since the Royals defeated the New York Mets in the World Series, and they have been in a rebuild since. They made a couple of key moves in the offseason which could help them compete in the AL Central division that is well up for grabs. Even after the Minnesota Twins swung a deal for star-studded shortstop Carlos Correa, the division is anyone’s to take. 

Make sure to check out all of our other Season Previews.

Additions 

Kansas City is embracing the youth movement as much as possible as they look to build around their young core led by Bobby Witt Jr., who will make his debut this season. That being said, their goal for the 2022 season is to have a smooth transition to the major leagues for their young players. That includes players waiting on their debuts like Witt Jr. and Nick Pratto, as well as the young arms that made their debuts in Daniel Lynch, Jackson Kowar, and Jon Heasley. To help elevate that transition, they added a couple of veteran arms that will take some weight off the younglings’ shoulders. One of the moves was trading away aging and declining southpaw Mike Minor to the Cinncinati Reds for big bullpen arm Amir Garrett

Amir Garrett, LHP

The flamethrowing southpaw provides a solid, high-upside relief arm to pair with right-handers Josh Staumont and closer Scott Barlow at the back-end of the bullpen. While Garrett had a down 2021 season (6.04 ERA, 1.573 WHIP), a change of scenery could help him return to 2019 and 2020 form. Garrett exhibits high-strikeout stuff with a mid to high-90s fastball and a swing-and-miss mid-80s slider that has an 1807 RPM spin rate. In the shortened 2020 season, he held a 2.45 ERA and 0.93 WHIP, while striking out 26 over 18 1/3 innings. He also left every inherited runner on base.

Zack Greinke, RHP, One year/$13 million

You might think replacing a 34-year-old pitcher with a 38-year-old pitcher doesn’t make much sense. On one hand, you would be (somewhat) right. But on the other hand, Greinke has proven time and time again that he still has something left in the tank. While Minor has struggled to find consistency throughout his career, Greinke has maintained his pinpoint accuracy even after losing velocity on his fastball. On top of that, the righty returns to the team that drafted him and where he won his lone Cy Young. He will be a great veteran to help lead the young guns, as well as bring some postseason pedigree. The Royals have been eyeing a reunion for years and it has finally come to fruition. Fans will be excited to have him back in Royal blue.

Taylor Clarke, RHP, One year/$975,000

Before the lockout, the Royals signed Clarke to add to their bullpen. The right-hander was non-tendered by the Arizona Diamondbacks in late November and the Royals signed him just days later. The 2015 third-round pick pitched parts of three seasons with the Diamondbacks and recorded a 4.98 ERA, 3.54 FIP, 39 strikeouts in 43 1/3 innings in 2021. Clarke missed nearly two months with a shoulder injury. With the cheap deal, it is not a bad gamble for the Royals to make as it adds depth. On top of that, the 28-year-old’s peripherals show that he was better than his ERA, as he allowed a career-high .350 BABIP along with the 3.54 FIP. The injury also caused some of the numbers to balloon, as he never found it again when he returned.

Subtractions

Wade Davis, RHP, Retirement

A failed starter, Davis became one of the most dominant relievers over a three-year period for the Royals. In 182 2/3 innings from 2014 to 2016, the right-hander held a 1.18 ERA and converted 47 saves. He was a key reliever during Kansas City’s two playoff runs in 2015 and 2016, giving up just one earned run in 22 appearances. After one decent and two subpar seasons with the Colorado Rockies, Davis returned to the Royals in 2021. He was unable to return to dominant form and decided to hang it up after the season at the age of 35.

Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

The fifth overall pick by the Royals in the 2012 draft, Zimmer was released in November. His first two big-league seasons were cut short, 2019 because of injuries and 2020 because of the pandemic. But in the shortened 2020 season, he looked sharp. In 23 innings, he recorded a 1.57 ERA, 2.36 FIP, and 10.2 strikeouts per nine. The right-hander carried that over into the beginning of the 2021 season, with an ERA under 3.00 in July. But he couldn’t finish strong, as he ended the season with a 4.83 ERA, 4.82 FIP, and 20.6 percent strikeout rate to 13.5 percent walk rate. It’s possible Zimmer finds something again, but the risk outshines the reward for the Royals at this point.

Hanser Alberto, 2B, Los Angeles Dodgers

The Royals signed Alberto after he was non-tendered by the Baltimore Orioles last offseason and was a decent depth piece. The 28-year-old moved around the diamond, playing at second base, shortstop, and third base. He made his money against left-handers, as he slashed .286/.317/.454 against them in 127 plate appearances. Overall, he slashed .270/.291/.402 in 103 games while posting a 0.4 bWAR. With the young guys in Witt Jr. and Pratto on their way up, the Royals have no need for Alberto. Nicky Lopez also provides solid depth for both second base and shortstop, with Whit Merrifield also still on the team. Adalberto Mondesi will slide over to third with Witt Jr. at short.

2022 Outlook 

The rebuild could be coming near an end for the Royals as they have a lot of young promise. As previously mentioned, they have the top prospect in all of baseball in Witt Jr. making his debut this season, along with other young pieces surrounding him. The veteran additions could be exactly what this team needs to speed up the process and compete with the likes of the Twins and Chicago White Sox in the division. Depending on how the team performs along with the rest of the division, they could be seen as half buyers, half sellers at the deadline. The Royals have pieces that are expendable, such as Merrifield and Hunter Dozier, while they could look to add as well. 

Prediction: 79-83 

Maybe the Royals won’t be able to finish higher than third in the division, but they should very well improve their record and show a lot of promise. The AL Central is still up in the air, despite additions the teams have made. The Twins may have added a big fish in Correa, but their starting rotation is still a big question mark. The White Sox are still the strongest team in the division as they have the best pitching staff and a killer lineup. The Tigers are another promising young team but don’t expect much noise from them yet. The newly-named Cleveland Guardians have solid pitching, but outside a couple of names, their lineup is lacking. Kansas City could easily be right in the mix and with some luck could enter the dogfight with the Twins and White Sox. 


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