The Kansas City Royals were one of the worst teams in baseball in 2022 when they won 65 games and finished bottom of the American League Central. Their improvement needs to be vast as they try to chase down a Cleveland Guardians team that finished 27 games ahead of them (92 wins) at the end of the season.
The Royals kick off the 2023 season with a homestand. They open on Thursday, March 30, with the first game of a three-game tilt against the Minnesota Twins. This is followed by welcoming the Toronto Blue Jays to Kauffman Stadium for four games beginning Monday, April 3. The Royals have two further home series in April, taking on the Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers, with that home stand beginning on Friday, April 14.
Here are three questions for the Royals ahead of the 2023 season.
Three Key Questions
How long will it take the youth movement to pay off?
The Royals will be a young team in 2023. Last summer, the team realized they were carrying too many players with skillsets (and salaries) that weren’t working out. As a result, the Royals will be attacking 2023 with a young, hungry team loaded with players in their mid-20s and younger. There are exceptions – franchise legend Zach Greinke at 39, was bought back for another year to both play and help the young arms in the rotation – but this is a fully-fledged youth movement that should only pay off for the Royals at some point in the near future. The question is when.
Is there an everyday DH?
The Royals have a big question mark over their DH slot coming into the season. Catcher Salvador Perez will certainly see time there – playing everyday catcher at 33 is a no-no – while Vinnie Pasquantino was great in 2022 but will likely need to spend more time at first base given the hitting struggles of other rostered players at the position. The addition of free agent Franmil Reyes further muddies the waters. Reyes blasted 27 home runs in 2019 but was so bad last year (.221/.273/.365) that the Guardians got rid of him midseason. He has to play if he finds his bat, but his defense means it can only really be at the DH spot.
Does Bobby Witt Jr. become a superstar?
The most hyped player part of the Royals’ turn to youth is Bobby Witt Jr. Witt will be the teams starting shortstop this season after flexing time at short and third base as a rookie. There had been 13 players in MLB history to be part of the 20-20 club as rookies until Witt made it an even 14 last season. His ability to hit home runs and steal bases were just two of the tools that made the Royals select Witt with the No. 2 overall pick of the 2019 MLB Draft. The Royals expect big things, it will be on Witt to deliver.