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Kansas City Royals 2023 End-of-Season Recap

Cole Ragans throws a pitch for the Kansas City Royals in the first inning at Fenway Park.

To say the 2023 season for the Kansas City Royals finishes as a disappointment would be quite an understatement.

The Kansas City Royals finished at the bottom of the American League Central division for a second straight year. And there is some frustration beginning to set in for Kansas City.

The days of playoffs and a World Series memory appear to be well behind the franchise. A full rebuild appears to be looming, since they have not emerged from the last one.

Now, to be fair, the expectations weren’t all that high for Kansas City coming into the season. But tying a franchise record with 106 losses for a single season is not something that will make many fans so happy.

More to the point, the Royals did not show much improvement from their bleak position in the middle of the season.

So, what went wrong for the Kansas City Royals in the 2023 season? Let’s take a deeper look…

Offense Bleak, Leads to Bottom-Feeding Statistics

When the offense is not there, the team can’t build much momentum. Unfortunately, that was the case for the Royals in 2023.

One of the main reasons why the Royals struggled was because their offense ranked near the bottom of MLB in some high-value statistical categories. To explain further, Kansas City places third worst in team on-base percentage (.303), they drew the second fewest walks (411), and they hit the fourth fewest home runs (163).

The Royals also find themselves in the bottom half of the Junior Circuit for team batting average (.244), slugging percentage (.398), OPS (.701), doubles (258), and runs (676).

Does Kansas City Have Anything to Build Upon?

To answer that question, yes, there is one bright spot from the disappointing offense. One guy who is emerging into an electric offensive player is young SS Bobby Witt Jr. In just his second Major League season, Witt posted team-highs in hits (177), batting average (.276), home runs (30), RBIs (96), and multiple other stats.

Witt is turning himself into a potential five-tool star at the shortstop position, something that is becoming rarer in today’s sport.

However, the Royals have a veteran leader who is sticking through the down years. That guy would be none other than C Salvador Perez. Perez, who earned his eighth All-Star selection in 12 seasons, is a force at the plate as a power-hitting backstop. He matched his power output from 2022 with 23 home runs again in 2023, and the RBIs got a slight bump from 76 to 80.

If Perez can maintain his role, he will surely cross over the 250-career home run plateau next season.

Not only was the offense amongst the worst in the Majors, but the Royals pitching staff didn’t fare much better either.

Pitching Finds Themselves On The Skids

When the offense struggles, the pressure is on the pitching to step up. Well, the Royals staff didn’t exactly do that this season.

Looking at the statistics, Kansas City’s pitchers compiled the second-worst ERA in the AL (5.17), while allowing the second-most hits (1429), runs (859), earned runs (809), and fewest strikeouts (1270). It almost didn’t seem like the pitching could get a key out when they needed it.

One pitcher in particular who had a rough season was right-hander SP Jordan Lyles. In his first season with the Royals, Lyles posted some of the worst numbers of his twelve-year career. Lyles finishes the season with a career-worst 17 losses and a career-high 124 earned runs, which led to a 6.28 ERA. Ouch.

Midseason Acquisition Provides Some Relief and Success

However, there was one bright spot in Kansas City’s rotation. The guy who found success after being acquired via trade was lefty SP Cole Ragans. In 12 starts with the Royals, Ragans put together a respectable 5-2 record, a 2.64 ERA, and an impressive 1.074 WHIP.

After struggling at the beginning of the season, the change of scenery proved to be a beneficial one for the second-year pro. Ragans is proving to be a guy who does well at keeping traffic off of the basepaths. One number that proves the line more than others: when moving to Kansas City, opposing batters only hit .195 off of the lefty.

The Royals may have found themselves a diamond in the rough when they acquired Ragans at the end of June.

Where Does the Team Go from Here?

Overall, the 2023 season was a rather dismal one for the Kansas City Royals. The expectations to begin the season weren’t all that high. But finishing the season with the second most losses in the Majors is not something to write home about. A not-so-bright future appears to be on the horizon for the Royals. But if they can turn things around and build around Bobby Witt Jr., they may make some noise in what is turning into a weaker AL Central division.

Off-Season Plans

Of course, the main goal for the off-season is to build around Witt. But with SP Zack Greinke likely retiring, the rotation could certainly use some help. The Royals will have an intriguing approach to watch. Who knows what will happen next for Kansas City?

Nate Powalie is a contributor for Back Sports Page. A 2022 graduate of Ashland University (Ashland, Ohio), Nate has five years of sports writing experience, and has gotten the chance to call sporting events for radio and live stream. Nate also works as a cashier and can be found on Twitter (@PNate22) and Facebook (Nate Powalie).

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