The 2023 season marks yet another year where the AL Central is completely up for grabs, with three teams legitimately in the hunt for the division title.
Let’s take a deep dive into how the AL Central shapes out for the 2023 season.
AL Central preview: 5. Kansas City Royals
We’re now several years into the Royals rebuild, with Kansas City still years away from contention. Perhaps we’re starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. The young lineup is highlighted by Bobby Witt Jr., M.J. Melendez, and Vinnie Pasquantino, all proven young studs with big league success. Then you have another group of young, highly-touted prospects like Nick Pratto, Drew Waters, Michael Massey, and Edward Olivares who will have to prove themselves this year. If a few of these guys can establish themselves as consistent MLB-caliber players, the Royals will have a nice group of pieces to build around. Most importantly, Kansas City has found a future franchise player in Bobby Witt Jr. The 22-year-old had a monster rookie season, notching 20 homers, and 57 overall extra base hits.
Brady Singer highlights a starting pitching staff that still has a very long way to go. After coming back from Triple A on May 17, Singer posted a 2.85 ERA over 23 starts. Singer became the first Royals pitcher to win 10 games last season, striking out 150 batters over 153 innings. In fact, Singer is really the sole young arm that Royals fans can look forward to seeing in the future. The rest of the rotation consists of veterans like Zach Greinke, Jordan Lyles, and Ryan Yarbrough that make this awfully below average. These three vets, along with Brad Keller and Jonathan Heasley, signify the glaring weakness of starting pitching that has to improve moving forward.
Aside from Singer, every other starter on this staff is heavily below average. I didn’t understand the signing of Jordan Lyles. Signing a guy who has never had an ERA below 4.10 to a multi-year deal is just foolish.
This year marks yet another year of investment for KC; investing in the farm and young MLB talent. Let’s not forget it’s been a very long time (probably 2016) since this team has been remotely close to contending. Sooner or later, this team must start spending money and acquiring more pieces if they are interested in competing in the Wild Card hunt.