The 2023 season was a rough one for the Royals, as Kansas City finished with 106 losses, second-most in the MLB. However, Kansas City’s star shortstop did take a step forward in his development and several other youngsters flashed potential for the future. Here’s our recap of the 2023 Kansas City Royals.
The Offensive Numbers
The star of the show this season was Bobby Witt Jr., the former second-overall pick who had himself a very strong sophomore campaign. Witt Jr. hit .276/.319/.495 with 30 home runs, 49 stolen bases, and 69 extra-base hits in 2023.
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Outside of Witt Jr., there weren’t many notable standout performers at the plate. Catcher Salvador Perez did have himself a good season, though, as he hit .255/.292/.422 with 23 home runs and 80 RBI. Fellow catcher Freddy Fermin, meanwhile, posted a .781 OPS over 70 games.
Then, there was infielder Maikel Garcia. Garcia didn’t hit for much power but did play stellar defense (+15 OAA) at third and swiped 23 bases in his rookie campaign.
Pitching-wise, LHP Aroldis Chapman got his career back on track (2.45 ERA, 53 K in 29.1 IP) before he was flipped to Texas in June. In return, the Royals got back arguably their best starter this past season in Cole Ragans.
A former first-round pick, Ragans always flashed good stuff but struggled with command and didn’t perform well in a relief role with the Rangers this season. He did as a starter, as he posted the eighth-best ERA (2.64) in the second half and struck out 89 over 71.2 IP thanks in large part to a very good changeup.
Aside from Chapman and Ragans, one other notable performer late in the year was former Phillies prospect James McArthur. The Royals righty picked up four saves from September 1 onward and didn’t concede a run through 16.1 IP.
Greinke didn’t miss many bats in 2022 and that remained the case in 2023. However, luck was not on his side this past season. Journeyman Jordan Lyles, meanwhile, was brought in after what was a decent 2022 in Baltimore, but the results looked more like his production from 2021. Lyles conceded 39 home runs over 177.2 IP and led the league in earned runs (124) and losses (17).
Brady Singer, however, might have been the most disappointing starter. The former first-round pick pitched very well in 2022 but went backward in 2023 (5.52 ERA). Singer’s FIP (4.29) would indicate some poor luck, but the 26-year-old sinkerballer ranked among the worst in Hard Hit% this season.
As for the Royals’ bullpen, Kansas City relievers owned the second-worst ERA (5.23) behind only the Rockies.
Offensively, Bobby Witt Jr. and Salvador Perez didn’t receive much support. It didn’t help that 1B Vinnie Pasquantino, who underwent shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum this past summer, was out for most of 2023.
What to Look For in 2024
It’s clear that Witt Jr. is the face of the franchise in Kansas City. In fact, it’ll be interesting to see how the Royals handle Witt Jr. over the coming months, given that the star shortstop is one year away from arbitration.
At 23 years of age, a long-term extension makes sense for a litany of reasons. But, how much would it take to keep Witt Jr. in town for the next decade? It wouldn’t be a shock if it would look somewhat similar to the 14-year, $340 million deal — maybe not in years, but AAV — that Fernando Tatis Jr. got in 2020 when taking Witt Jr.’s production and future value into account.
Outside of Witt Jr., though, there are a number of question marks for this team. One is the rotation, which did not impress in 2023 despite the strong production of Cole Ragans.
Second, how will young hitters like Maikel Garcia, MJ Melendez, and Vinnie Pasquantino perform next season? All three have flashed talent over the past couple of seasons, but will 2024 be the year those three take a step forward in development?