Kansas City Royals
1968: After the Athletics bolted Kansas City for Oakland following the 1967 season, Major League Baseball, which was looking to expand to 24 teams, grants Kansas City one of its four expansion slots. The new team was to begin playing in 1969, due in part to pressure from Missouri Senator Stuart Symington who threatened to revoke baseball’s antitrust exemption.
1969: Playing their very first game in the place the Athletics once called home Kansas City Municipal Stadium, the Royals rally from a 3-1 deficit to win in extra-inning against the Minnesota Twins. The Royals would not win much that first season, but they would put a respectable 69-93 record for an expansion team. In fact, of the four new teams debuting throughout baseball, the Royals would post the best record, and would even see Lou Piniella get individual honors by winning the Rookie of the Year.
1970: In their second season, the Royals take a step backward, finishing in fourth place with a 67-95 record.
1971: In just their third year of existence, the Royals post their first winning season, finishing in second place in the American League Western Division with an 85-76 record. This is the fastest an expansion team at that time accomplished such early success.
1972: The up and coming Royals take another step backward, and fall to fourth place again, with a disappointing 76-78 record.
1973: The Royals move into their very own stadium called Royals Stadium. The stadium’s prominent feature is water fountains beyond the outfield fence. They are added to the stadium because Kansas City is known as the city of Fountains. That first year at the stadium, the Royals also host the All-Star Game, which is won by the National League 7-1. The new stadium is installed with Astroturf, and Royals management begins to build a team around speed and pitching, a move that would pay off within a few years. The year also sees the debut of a young Third Baseman named George Brett, who would become the centerpiece of Royals baseball for the next 20 years. The Royals would show some of that promises in that first year, finishing in second place with a solid 88-74 record.
1974: The Royals take another step backward as they finish the season in a tailspin after playing above .500 for most of the season as they win just nine of their last 26 games on the way to finishing in fifth place with a 77-85 record.
1975: After a disappointing finish, the Royals were off to a slow start, when Manager Jack McKeon was fired and replaced by Whitey Herzog. The move pays off as the Royals get back in the race before settling for second place with a 91-71 record. With a team built around developing players like George Brett, Frank White, Willie Wilson, and Dennis Leonard, the Royals put together a solid nucleus that will stay together and remain mostly intact for the next decade, in which the Royals were a perennial playoff contender.
1976: With Whitey Herzog taking the reigns from the start of the season, fans throughout Kansas City were optimistic that the Royals were ready to take the next step. Led by George Brett, who wins his first Batting Crown the Royals would not disappoint, winning 90 games to beat out the Oakland Athletics by three games to claim their first division title, with a 90-72 record. In the ALCS, the Royals would be matched up against the New York Yankees who’s postseason history is unmatched by anyone in baseball history. In the first postseason game in Kansas City, a pair of George Brett misplays and Catfish Hunter’s dominating pitching handcuffed the Royals. The Royals would bounce back in front of their home fans the next night as Paul Splittorff’s five and two-thirds innings of scoreless relief enabled the Royals to tie the series at one game apiece heading to New York. After losing Game 3, the Royals would bounce back to rough up Catfish Hunter in Game 4 to send the series to a fifth and deciding game. In Game 5, the Royals and Yankees would each trade two runs in the first inning. The Yankees would score two runs in the third inning and twp in the sixth to take a 6-3 lead into the eighth. The Royals would not show any quit as George Brett blasted a three-run homer down the Rightfield line off Yankees Reliever Grant Jackson to tie the game. Unfortunately for the Royals, Chris Chambliss would end the Royals season with a leadoff series-winning homer in the bottom of the ninth.
1977: The Royals as a team don’t have any one-individual player put up spectacular numbers. Instead, they have the whole team contribute to substantial numbers, as the team wins it’s second straight American League Western Division Title with a franchise-best record of 102-60. The Royals would move on to face the New York Yankees again in the ALCS. The Royals would get off to a fast blowing out of the Yankees 7-2 in Game 1 at the Bronx. However, the Yanks would bounce back to win Game 2 and send the series to KC tied at a game apiece. In Game 3, lead by the hitting of Hal McRae and the pitching of Dennis Leonard, the Royals won 6-2 to get within one game of their first trip to the World Series. However, the Yankees would bounce back behind the relief efforts of Sparky Lyle to force a fifth and deciding game. In Game 5, the Royals would take a 1-run lead to the ninth inning, but the Yankees would score three times, to beat the Royals for the second straight season.
1978: For the third year in a row, the Kansas City Royals are masters of the American League West domain with a 92-70 record, as everyone seems to contribute again. In the ALCS for the third year in a row, the Royals opponents are the New York Yankees. Going into this year’s series the Royals have an advantage since the Yankees had to battle through a tough one-game playoff against the Boston Red Sox the day before the start of the ALCS. The Royals are unable to capitalize as the hitting of Reggie Jackson, and two hit pitching of Jim Beattie and Ken Clay combine to beat the Royals in Game 1. The Royals would bounce back to take Game 2 to even the series at one game apiece, meaning for the third year straight year the series would be tied after two games. In Game 3, thanks to three home runs from George Brett, the Royals would lead 5-4 into the eighth inning of a back and forth affair in the Bronx. However, a two-run home run by Thurman Munson would doom the Royals. The next night the Royals would only manage one run on seven hits as they watched the Yankees advance to the World Series for the third straight season.
1979: Royals pitching struggle and the Royals manage to the only post an 85-77 record. However, they would stay in the race until the final week of the season, falling only three games back of the California Angels. After the season, Royals management determines a change is needed, and Jim Frey replaces Whitey Herzog as manager.
1980: The change of managers seems to work as the Royals bounce back to dominate the American League Western Division again with a 97-65 record, winning the division title by comfortable 14 games. Leading the way is George Brett, who was hitting over .400 as late a Labor Day. Brett would fall off only a little and end the season with an outstanding .390 Batting Average earning him the American League MVP. In the ALCS, the Royals would face the New York Yankees for the fourth time in five years. The Royals would get off to a fast start as Larry Gura allows only two runs despite giving up ten hits in the Royals Game 1 victory. In Game 2, the Royals would stay hot as four straight third inning hits led to a 3 -0 lead. The Yanks would cut the lead to one, and the game went to the ninth inning with Royals leading 3-2. In the ninth inning Royals relief ace Dan Quisenberry came on to save the game, but it would be a bumpy ride. With two outs Yankees 2B Willie Randolph raced home with what seemed to be the tying run. However, he was out, and the Royals took a 2-0 series lead heading to the Bronx. In Game 3, the Royals would complete the sweep, and dust off the monkey on their backs thanks to a majestic seventh inning three-run Homer by George Brett. After finally beating the Yankees, the Royals face the Philadelphia Phillies in their first trip to the World Series. In Game 1, the Royals would take an early 4-0 lead, but could not hold it as the Phillies erupted for five runs in the 3rd to beat the Royals 7-6. The Royals would grab a lead in the Game 2 as well, but even Dan Quisenberry could not hold it as the Phillies took a 2-0 lead with series heading to Kansas City. In Game 3, the Royals would take 3, 1-run leads only to be tied the very next inning, as the game went deadlocked into extra Innings. The Royals would win the game in the 10th inning thanks to Willie Aikens’ game-winning triple. In Game 4, the Royals would take an early 5-0 thanks to Aikens’ second two home run game of the series. The Phillies would make it close, but Quisenberry would hold them off to knot the series at two games apiece. In Game 5, the Royals would take a 3-2 lead to the ninth inning, but Quisenberry was unable to hold it as Del Unser, and Many Trillio drove in the tying and go-ahead runs in the ninth inning. However, The Royals would load the bases in the bottom of the inning off a tiring Tug McGraw, but Tug would harness every bit of his strength to strike out Jose Cardenal to send the series back to Philly with the Phillies leading 3-2. The loss in Game 5 would end up being the end, as the Royals would fall 4-1 in Game 6.
1981: The Royals would get off to a bad start losing 30 of their first 50 games when the season was halted because of a player’s strike. When play resumed two months later, Major League Baseball decided to have a slit season, and the Royals were given new life. Through the first 20 games, they were only at .500, and manager Jim Frey was fired and replaced by Dick Howser, who was fired by the Yankees after the 1980 ALCS. The moved paid off, as the Royals would win 20 of their last 33 to win the division by a game over the first half winner Oakland Athletics, despite a mediocre overall record of 50-43. In the Division Series between two American League Western Division Champs, the Royals would put up little challenge falling in three straight games.
1982: Led by Willie Wilson, who leads the American League in hitting, and Hal McRae, who leads the league in RBI, the Royals win 90 games again. However, it is not enough as the Royals fall three games short of the Division title.
1983: On July 24th in a game in New York against the Yankees, George Brett hits a two-out home run in the ninth inning to give the Royals a 5-4 lead. However, Yankee catcher Rick Cerone and manager Billy Martin argue that Brett had too much pine tar on his bat. (Pine Tar is a sticky substance that batters use to get a good grip on the bat.) The Umpires examine the bat and determine that there is more than the allowable 18 inches of pine tar on the bat and use on an obscure rule to overturn the home run and give the Yankees the game 4-3. Seeing this makes Brett go ballistic, and he runs out of the dugout to argue with umpires. Brett is so enraged he has to restrained by several players and coaches. The Royals would protest the umpire’s decision, and the American League agrees, and the call is overturned, and the game is resumed three weeks later. In the resumption, Dan Quisenberry sets the Yankees down to win the game 5-4. The Yanks make a mockery of the league’s ruling by playing several players out of position, including Pitcher Ron Guidry in Centerfield. However, the season would otherwise be a big disappointment for the Royals, who finished 20 games out of first place in second place with a disappointing 79-83 record. Off the field, the Royals had a bumpy season as Willie Aikens, Vida Blue, Jerry Martin, and Willie Wilson spent part of the season in a Florida prison on drug charges.
1984: Despite only posting an 84-78 record, the Royals finish in first place in a mediocre season for the American League Western Division. Highlighting the season is Dan Quisenberry, who saves a then-record 44 games. In the ALCS, the Royals would face a juggernaut team in the Detroit Tigers who make quick work sweeping them in three straight games.
1985: The Royals led by 30 home runs from Steve Balboni, and George Brett, find themselves in a tight pennant race throughout the season. On the mound, Bret Saberhagen wins 20 games and the Cy Young, as Quisenberry leads the American League in saves yet again. The battle for the division would go down to the wire as the Royals won 91 games to beat the California Angels by one game. In the ALCS, the Royals would face the Toronto Blue Jays. Things get off to a rocky start when the Royals are blown out in Game 1, and Dan Quisenberry blows Game 2 to give the Jays a 2-0 series lead. In the third game, the Royals bounce back to win, behind the 4-for-4 efforts of George Brett. A 1-0 lead in Game 4 disappears as Al Oliver drives in three runs of Dan Quisenberry. Had the loss occurred a season before the series was over, the Blue Jays would be off to the World Series with three games to one series victory. Fortunately for the Royals, Baseball moved the ALCS from a best-of-five to a best-of-seven, and the Royals still had faint life. In Game 5, the Royals sent the series back to Toronto with a complete game shut out by Danny Jackson. The Royals would show even more life in Game 6 when George Brett delivers a home run to put the Royals ahead to stay to force a seventh and deciding game. In Game 7, the Royals would stun the Jays again as Jim Sundberg’s bases-loaded triple broke the game wide open and sent the Royals off to their second World Series. In the World Series, Missouri became the center of the sport’s world as the Kansas City Royals met up with their Show Me State rival St. Louis Cardinals in the I-70 World Series, named for the highway linking the two cities. In Game 1, the Cardinals get off to a fast start beating the Royals 3-1. The Royals would fall further behind after Dan Quisenberry blew another ninth-inning lead. This would put the Royals in a position no team has ever come back from losing the first two World Series games at home and coming back to win the series. The Royals would gain some revenge winning Game 3 in St. Louis 6-1. However, the Cards bounced back to take Game 4, and the Royals faced another 3-1 deficit. As he did in Game of the ALCS, Danny Jackson kept hope for the Royals alive pitching a complete game victory to send the series back to Kansas City. Game 6 would start as a pitcher’s duel between the Cards Danny Cox, and Charlie Leibrandt, it would end as one of the most controversial games in World Series history. The game was scoreless until the Cardinals broke on top 1-0 in the 8th inning. The game would go to the bottom of the ninth inning with Cards leading 1-0 and being just three outs from a championship. Jorge Orta would lead the inning off by beating out an infield single despite replays showing he was out. The Royals would then capitalize after a single and a passed ball set up runners on second and third, as Dane Iorg hit a game-winning single to force a decisive seventh game. Ironically, Orta would be erased on a fielder’s choice. Despite the frustration of the St. Louis Cardinals, the umpire’s mistake was only a small part of the Royals game-winning rally. With the Cardinals still frustrated over Game 6 the Royals, would take full advantage and romp to an 11-0 victory to claim their first World Championship.
1986: Coming off their championship, the Royals get off to a rough start and fall way behind the eventual division Champion Angels early. Things would only get worse as manager Dick Howser left the team after managing in the All-Star Game. Howser, who had been expiring headaches for most of the season, discovers that he has a cancerous brain tumor. After undergoing radiation and brain surgery, Howser attempts a comeback in the spring of 1987, but he was forced to leave again in mid-March. The news would only get worse as cancer would come back and claim his life at the young age of 51. Howser’s number 10 would be retired, and his leadership of the 1985 Championship team would never be forgotten. Without Howser, the Royals would finish in third place with a 76-86 record. The Royals send a shockwave that is felt in baseball and the NFL, as Bo Jackson the NFL’s number one draft pick, and Heisman Trophy winner refuses to sign with Tampa Bay Buccaneers and announces he will play baseball with Royals. Bo will make his debut, and despite looking overmatched at times, showed a pure raw talent.
1987: One year after spurning the NFL Bo Jackson signs a deal with Los Angeles Raiders. He does not quit the Royals instead stating football would be his hobby Bo Jackson makes history by becoming a two-sport athlete. The move angers some in the Royals front office who suggest it would slow down the development of his baseball skills, which show signs of a bust out as he smacks 22 home runs. The Royals battle the Minnesota Twins all year before falling two games short of a division Championship with an 83-79 record.
1988: The Royals would post an 84-77 record finishing in third place as Bo Jackson’s raw talent continued to develop.
1989: The raw talent of Bo Jackson reaches its potential as he has a break out year. With 32 homers and 105 RBI, Bo becomes a nationwide phenomenon. His outstanding All-Star Game MVP performance and the launching of his national “Bo Knows” commercials aid the budding phenomenon. “Bo Knows” would even outgrow the world of pro sports and become the most popular commercial catchphrase since “Where’s the beef?” With Bo becoming a vital cog of the offense, the Royals would finish in second place with a 92-70 record.
1990: The Bo Jackson phenomenon continues to grow, but signs of physical burn out begin to appear. Highlights of Bo’s season come when first he catches a ball in Baltimore and proceeds to run up and down the Centerfield fence, His next highlight comes in Yankee Stadium when he smacks three home runs in his first three at-bats. However, Bo would get injured, and would not get a fourth At bat. The injury came when he dove for a ball that would become an inside the park HR. In an ironic twist, the ball is hit by Deion Sanders, who himself makes a name by playing both baseball and football. Three weeks later, as almost like the fates meant it, Bo Jackson hits a home run in his first At bat after getting off the Disabled List. Bo is not the only Royal to have individual success. George Brett captures his third batting title with a .329 average, making history by becoming the first player ever to win batting crowns in three different decades. Despite the individual success, the Royals would struggle to finish in sixth place with a 75-86 record.
1991: On January 13th, in an AFC playoff game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Raiders, the worst fears of the Royals becomes a reality, when late in the third quarter Bo Jackson is tackled from behind by David Fulcher. At first, the injury does not appear that serious, but Bo would miss the rest of the game and the following week’s AFC Championship game in Buffalo. A few weeks later, before the start of spring training, Bo was still hurting. Royals’ team doctors would quickly discover that Bo’s hip was completely ripped out of his socket. The injury would lead to a hip replacement. The Royals, who had only allowed Bo to play football if he agreed any injury caused by the NFL, could lead to the termination of his contract cut ties with the star outfielder. Bo Jackson would later attempt a comeback with Chicago White Sox, but he would never be the same and quietly retired after the 1994 season with California Angels. Without Bo, the Royals would finish in sixth place again with an 82-80 record.
1992: On September 30th in Anaheim, George Brett becomes the 22nd player in baseball history to get his 3,000th career hit. The Royals would still struggle and finish in fifth place with a 70-92 record.
1993: The end of two eras in Kansas City Baseball highlights the season. The first end comes when team founder Ewing M. Kauffman passes away after a long illness. Before he passed on, the city of Kansas City renamed Royal Stadium (which will soon be renovated and turned into a grass field). The other change will come when George Brett retires after 20 years of great baseball in Kansas City. Brett’s career would end with 3,154 hits and a lifetime 305 average. In Brett’s swan song, the Royals would finish in third place with an 84-78 record.
1994: A decade after the Royals run of six division titles in ten years with a World Championship, the Royals would become the symbol of small market woes in baseball, despite David Cone winning the Cy Young and leading Royals into contention for the Central Division Championship with a 64-51 record. Owners would use the Royals as a prime example of a team that will be unable to compete if the game’s economics go unchanged. The owners go into discussions over a new collective beginning. The players arguing the owners are lying, and go on strike August 12th, and eventually led to the cancellation of the World Series. The strike would not end until April 1st when a judge finally orders an injunction, and after replacement players are used in Spring Training.
1995: Despite labor peace, the economics go unchanged, and the Royals find themselves slipping into baseball’s abyss. With the team losing money, the Royals are forced to trade away Cy Young-winning pitcher David Cone. Despite the loss of Cone, the Royals would hover around the .500 mark all season before finishing in a distant second place with a 70-74 record.
1996: For their first 27 seasons, the Royals were able to avoid finishing in last place. In the Royals 28th season, the Royals would no longer be able to avoid the cellar finishing 75-86 and 24 games out of first place in the American League Central Division.
1997: The Royals who did not finish in last place for their first 27 seasons finish in the cellar for the second straight season with a 67-94 record.
1998: The Royals escape last place, but continue to struggle to post an awful 72-89 record, for their fourth straight losing season.
1999: On April 30th, during a game against the World Champion New York Yankees, a group of frustrated Royals fans staged a protest over the economic state of baseball. The fans bring signs to the ballpark blaming the Yankees’ spending and the economics of baseball for ruining the Royals’ chances of competing. The fans also throw fake dollar bills on the field and turn their backs away from the field when the Yankees take their turn at-bats. The group would make one more clear statement by staging a mass walkout after the fifth inning. However, it would have little effect on the season as the Royals suffered an awful 64-97 season, and the Yankees won another World Championship. One star Kansas City fans could enjoy was Carlos Beltran, who won the Rookie of the Year with 22 homers and 108 RBI.
2000: The Royals show some promise as young players like Johnny Damon, and Jermaine Dye begins to make a name for themselves, and help lead the Royals to make a run at finishing .500, before finishing with a 77-85 record. However, economics would step in again as the Royals are forced to trade Johnny Damon in the off-season.
2001: The Royals new closer Roberto Hernandez struggles early as the Royals get off to a terrible start. Things would only get worse, as the team was forced to trade Jermaine Dye before the trade deadline. The Royals would on to match their franchise worse 64-97 record, on the way to finishing in last place again.
2002: The Royals would get off to a lousy 8-15 start as manager Tony Muser is fired. Eventually, Muser would be replaced by Tony Peña as the Royals were well on their way to an eighth straight losing season. However, one bright spot would be Mike Sweeney, who was near the top of the American League in batting all season with a .340 average. However, Sweeney would miss most of the last two months as the Royals hit the century mark in losses for the first time finishing in fourth place with a 62-100 record.
2003: Coming off a 100-loss season, not much was expected out of the Royals. However, they would break out of the gate like gangbusters winning their first nine games on the way to a tremendous 16-3 start. In May, the Royals would hit a wall posting just a 10-19 record as they found themselves below .500 in early June, as their pitching staff, which was sharp early, was now besieged with injuries and poor performance. Just as it looked as if the Royals were heading back to the reality of losing baseball, they rebounded thanks to the addition of Jose Lima, who helped stabilize their rotation by winning his first four decisions after starting the year with the independent Newark Bears. The Royals would end the first half as the surprise of baseball leading the American League Central Division by seven games with a 51-41 record. In August, the dog days of summer would begin to take their toll as the Royals lead melted away with Lima breaking down physically. To replace Lima, the Royals would reacquire Kevin Appier, a star pitcher for the Royals for a decade. It would not prevent the Royals from losing their grip on first place as they entered September a game and a half out of first in a three-team race. The Royals would never regain their lead as they faded in September, finishing in third place with an 83-79 record. However, there was still plenty to celebrate in the Royals’ first winning season in nine years as Tony Peña was an overwhelming selection for Manager of the Year. Angel Berroa was selected the Rookie of the Year, with 17 homers and 73 RBI, with 92 runs scored.
2004: After their surprising season, the Royals entered the season with a renewed sense of optimism. They were a favorite in the American League Central Division. Opening Day would only heighten those good feelings as the Royals used a stirring six-run ninth Inning rally topped by a walk-off home run by Carlos Beltran to beat the Chicago White Sox 9-7. The joy would be short-lived as the Royals suffered through an awful April that immediately sank their playoff hopes, as the team’s struggling finances forced them to shop around Carlos Beltran, a free agent following the season. As the Royals struggled, Beltran remained the Royals lone bright spot with a team-high 15 homers and 51 RBI when he was traded to the Houston Astros in a three-way deal, which also involved the Oakland Athletics for prospects. Things would only get worse as the Royals won just one of their next 14 games after the June 24th trade on the way to finishing in last place with the worst record in franchise history at 58-104.
2005: The Royals’ struggles continued as they got off to another miserable start posting an 8-26 record through their first 34 games when manager Tony Peña resigned. Under interim manager Bob Schaefer the Royals would not fair much better winning just 5 of 16 before Buddy Bell takes over on May 31st. The hiring of Bell seemingly sparked some life in the otherwise comatose Royals as they won their first four games, including a three-game sweep of the New York Yankees. Injuries would take their toll again as Ken Harvey was limited to just 45 games while Mike Sweeney spent time on the Disabled List for the fifth year in a row. After playing better under Bell for nearly two months, the dog days of summer had a brutal bite on the Royals as they lost 19 straight in August, as the Royals ended up in last place again with a franchise-worst 56-106 record.
2006: Before the season to try and make the Royals somewhat better, they signed several proven veteran role players, like 2B Mark Grudzielanek, OF Reggie Sanders, 1B Doug Mientkiewicz, and pitchers Mark Redman, Joe Mays, and Scott Elarton. These spare parts were not nearly enough to bridge the talent gap the Royals had with the rest of the American League as they got off to another horrendous start losing 20 of their first 25 games. As May came to an end, the Royals languishing in last place again with a record of 13-38 shook up the front office firing General Manager Allard Baird and replacing him with Dayton Moore, who was working alongside John Schurholtz with the Atlanta Braves. As June came to an end, the Royals took advantage of interleague play. They started to play a better baseball brand, winning 10-of-15 games, including two of three against the eventual World Champion St. Louis Cardinals. The Royals would never make any run, and pretty much was an unwatchable disaster once again. At times they relished in the role of spoiler as they swept the Boston Red Sox in a three-game series in August, then swept the Detroit Tigers in the season’s final three games, forcing them to settle for the Wild Card. However, with a 62-100, becoming the 11th team in baseball history to lose 100 games three years in a row.
2007: After three straight 100-loss seasons, the Royals had just one place to go, and that was up, as they signed free agent right-hander Gil Meche, signing him to five-year, $55 million contract to give stability to their pitching staff. While the lineup had some blue-chip stars like Ross Gload, Alex Gordon, and Mark Tehan working their way up, Meche would impress in his debut as the Royals beat the Boston Red Sox 7-1 on opening day. It would be the only day they could say they were better than the eventual World Champs as the Royals won just two of their next 13 games, on the way to poor April record of 8-18. May would bring more struggles as the Royals were on track for 100 losses again in the Central Division basement with a record of 19-35. In June, the Royals would show some signs of life posting a winning record, highlighted by a three-game sweep of the Western Division-leading Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim. In July, the Royals would post another winning record as they took two of three from the Red Sox in Fenway. The Royals would even briefly escape last place in August. However, a mediocre September would drop the Royals into last place again, although they did avoid 100 losses by posting a record of 69-93, as Trey Hillman replaced manager Buddy Bell following the season.
2008: Under new manager Trey Hillman the Royals had a good start as they swept the Detroit Tigers on the road and took two out of three against the New York Yankees a week later in their home opener to get off to a 6-3 start. Without much talent, the Royals found themselves in last place again by the end of May, after posting a terrible 10-19 record in the season’s second month. They would post a winning record in June, as they proved a sometimes pesky opponent to their American League Central Division rivals. A peskiness that would come through in September as they had a significant influence on the winner of the division title while escaping last place for the first time in five years in the final week of the season. First, it was another three-game sweep of the Tigers; then it was winning two of three on the road against the Minnesota Twins. This forced a chaotic ending a one-game playoff, that would cost the Twins the division title, as the spoiler Royals posted a 75-87 record and finished in fourth place.
2009: Celebrating the newly renovated Kaufmann Stadium, the Royals get off to a solid start, posting an 18-11 record through 29 games that had them on top of the American League Central Division on May 7th. Pacing the solid play for the Royals early in the season was Zack Greinke, who posted a 5-0 record with a 0.50 ERA. The Royals would not be able to maintain their start as they lost 11 of their next 14 games and suffered losing month and losing month the rest of the way, as they once again were a non-factor in the playoff chase, finishing in a fourth-place tie with an awful record of 65-97. Despite the Royals’ struggles, Zack Greinke remained the best pitcher in baseball, posting a 16-8 record with an ERA of 2.16 that was the lowest in all of MLB, which would be good enough to earn him the American League Cy Young Award.
2010: The Royals looked for Zack Greinke for a repeat performance as they hoped to turn things around. Greinke and the Royals would get off to a slow start as the Royals again found themselves at the bottom of the American League Central. Greinke would not get his first win of the season until May 13th as the Royals got off to a 12-23 start. That day would be the final game managed by Trey Hillman as he was fired following the 6-4 win over the Cleveland Indians at Kaufmann Stadium. Under new manager Ned Yost, the Royals would win six of their first eight games. The Royals would thread water under Yost as they climbed into fourth place and held a 39-49 record at the All-Star Break. However, in the second half, the Royals pitching would falter, as Zack Grienke finished the season with a disappointing 10-14 record, with an ERA of 4.17. During a three-game span in July, the Royals set a franchise record allowing 42 runs. The Royals would finish for the sixth time in seven years with a record of 67-95. Following the season, after requesting a deal, the Royals would deal Zack Greinke to the Milwaukee Brewers along with Yuniesky Betancourt and $2 million for Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Jeremy Jeffress, and Jake Odorizzi.
2011: The Royals turned the page after another last-place season as they sent Zach Greinke to the Milwaukee Brewers along with Yuniesky Betancourt and 2 million dollars for Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Jeremy Jeffress, and Jake Odorizzi. The Royals also dealt away David DeJesus to the Oakland Athletics for Vin Mazzaro and Justin Marks. Despite losing the season opener at home to the Los Angeles Angels, the Royals got off to a good start as they won their next three games against the Angels, on the way to winning 10 of their first 14 games. Among the Royals starting the seasons strongly were pitcher Bruce Chen, who won four of his first five decisions. The Royals would not be able to sustain the start as Chen spent some time on the disabled list. With Chen on the DL, the Royals recalled Vin Mazzaro. However, the pitcher acquired for David DeJesus struggled and was quickly sent back to the minors. While Mazzaro struggled when he was called up from Omaha, Eric Hosmer excelled and showed flashes of a bright future, as he hit 19 home runs with 78 RBI, while hitting .293 after making his debut in May. While Hosmer made an immediate impact, one-time prospect Alex Gordon, who thus far had a disappointing career, finally showed the promise the Royals have been waiting. Gordon had career highs with 23 homers, 87 RBI, and a .303 average while winning a Golden Glove for stellar outfield defense. Despite the bright spots, the Royals continued to be a non-factor in the playoff race, as they finished in fourth place with a record of 71-91.
2012: It was an All-Star summer in Kansas City as the Royals hosted their first All-Star Game in 39 years. The Royals hoped to have some of their players as part of the American League team with a talented young lineup leading the way. Any hopes of contending seemed to be wiped away in April. The Royals suffered through a 12 game losing streak, which included a 0-10 record at home against the Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, and Toronto Blue Jays. The Royals would manage back-to-back winning months in May and June, but July brought more struggles as they won just seven games and lost 19. The most prominent bright spot for the Royals was Billy Butler, who was picked to represent the Royals at the All-Star Game and led the team with 29 home runs, 107 RBI, and average at .313. Mike Moustakas also had a solid season with 20 homers and 73 RBI, while Alex Gordon had 14 home runs and 72 RBI with a solid .294 average. Eric Hosmer struggled most of the season with 14 home runs, 60 RBI and a .232 average. The Royals’ most significant problem was pitching as they one of the worst starting staffs in all of baseball, with only Bruce Chen winning more than ten games, as he finished 11-14 with an ERA of 5.07. A particular disappointment was Jonathan Sanchez, who the Royals acquired from the San Francisco Giants in the off-season for Melky Cabrera. Sanchez would post a terrible 1-6 record with a hideous 7.76 ERA before he was traded to the Colorado Rockies for Jeremy Guthrie on July 20th. Meanwhile, Cabrera returned to Kansas City during the mid-summer classic and was named the All-Star Game’s Most Valuable Player. The trade would end up working out better in August, as Guthrie was the Royals’ best pitcher in the last two months, with a record of 5-3 with an ERA of 3.16. The Royals would have a strong August, posting a 17-11 record while playing havoc with the two leading teams in the Central Division, as they swept the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers in consecutive weeks. The Royals would finish the season in third place with a record of 72-90. Following the season, the Royals looked to improve their pitching staff by acquiring James Shields and Wade Davis from the Tampa Bay Rays for top prospect Wil Myers and three others.
2013: With a solid young lineup, the Royals spent the off-season addressing their pitching problems, as they acquired James Shields and Wade Davis from the Tampa Bay Rays. To get two solid starting pitchers, the Royals needed to part with their top prospect Wil Meyers and three others. Shields would get the opening day start, and pitched well but had nothing to show for it as the Royals lost a pitcher’s duel to Chris Sale and the Chicago White Sox 1-0. After splitting their first six games on the road, the Royals came home and swept the Minnesota Twins, as they did not make an error in their first six games. April would be a good month for the Royals, as they spent most of it in first place, posting a record of 14-10. In May, the Royals returned to Earth, losing 20 games, including three out of four to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Royals would get back on track in June, as they started the month by winning 12 of 16 to get back to .500. Over the next month, the 500 mark would become a barrier for the Royals, as they reach it and suffer another losing streak. With the help of an eight-game winning streak at the end of July, the Royals finally climbed above .500 to stay. While they never made a serious push for the Wild Card, the Royals were not eliminated until the final week of the season. The Royals posted their first winning record in a decade at 86-76. James Shields would be the Royals’ most reliable starter, winning 13 games with an ERA of 3.15. At the same time, Greg Holland was nearly flawless in the pen, saving 47 games. The Royals offense was led by Alex Gordon, who had 20 homers and 81 RBI, while Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez each drove in 79.
2014: After posting a record of 86-76, the Royals looked to continue to move forward in the American League Central. The Royals would drop their first two games against the Detroit Tigers, before beating the Chicago White Sox 7-5 in their home opener. The Royals would have their ups and downs in April, posting a record of 14-12. Four runs were the magic number for the Royals early in the season, as they were 14-0 in their first 29 games, scoring four or more runs. At the same time, they were 0-15 when they scored less than four runs. The offense was tricky for the Royals, as the team did not hit many home runs, ranking last in the American League with 95 on the season and thus needed to be creative in getting offense. The Royals were terrific at building runs, taking the extra base and creating havoc on the base paths, as they led the league with 153 steals. The Royals also had an outfield defense that was second to none and played the fundamental baseball brand that was more like a team of 1914 instead of 2014. Not all was well for the Royals offense as they sent down Mike Moustakas to Omaha after hitting .152 through his first 139 plate appearances. Moustakas’s stay in the minors would be a short one after returning. He showed more consistency at the plate. At the same time, the Royals began to heat up, winning ten straight in June. However, the Royals would not maintain the pace and struggled into the All-Star Break. The Royals would slip under .500 after the All-Star Break, after being swept by the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Following a 3-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on July 21st, coach Rusty Kuntz called for a team meeting. Kuntz had grown angry at the team for playing games on their cellphones after the loss. Kuntz, along with manager Ned Yost demanded the players reassess their priorities and focus on winning baseball. Most team meetings have little effect on a team’s fortunes, but he was just what the doctor ordered for the Royals, as they started a five-game winning streak and posted a 25-9 record over their next 34 games. The streak took the Royals from third place to first place and put them right in the thick of the playoff race as September began. A key to the Royals success was a shutdown bullpen, led by Closer Greg Holland, who won the Mariano Rivera award by saving 46 games, in 48 save opportunities, while compiling a 1.44 ERA. Helping Holland be the best closer in the American League was Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis. They often pitched the seventh and eighth innings and were nearly flawless all season, helping the Royals shorten games, as all three pitchers had ERA’s lower than 1.50. The Royals remained in first place as September began with five straight wins. The Tigers regained the top spot by taking four of six from the Royals. The Royals would rebound to win six of their last games and clinched a Wild Card birth on September 26th with a 3-1 win over the Chicago White Sox. The Royals would finish the season with a record of 89-73 their best win total since 1989.
2014 Postseason: The Kansas City Royals would host the Oakland Athletics in their first postseason game in 29 years. Things looked bleak for Kansas City when the A’s erupted for five runs in the sixth inning to take a 7-3 lead. The Royals would get back into the game by scratching out three runs in the eighth inning but still trailed 7-6 entering the bottom of the ninth. Pinch Hitter Pinch-hitter Josh Willingham led off with a single off Athletics Closer Sean Doolittle. Willingham was replaced by pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson, who was moved to second on a successful bunt by Alcides Escobar. Dyson then proceeded to steal third base and scored the tying run on a sacrifice fly by Nori Aoki. After two scoreless innings, the A’s regained the lead with a run in the 12th inning. After Lorenzo Cain grounded out to start the bottom of the 12th, Eric Hosmer lined the ball to deep leftfield and reached third base thanks to poor fielding. Hosmer would score to tie the game on a Christian Colon single. After Alex Gordon popped out, Colon stole second base off Jason Hammel. Salvador Perez would follow that up with a single to score Colon as the Royals won the game 9-8, sending Kaufman Stadium into a state of delirium. In the ALDS, the odds appeared to be stacked against the Royals as they faced the Los Angeles Angels, who finished the season with the best record in baseball. However, the Royals would once again get stellar relief and won the opener 3-2 in 11 innings on a home run by Mike Moustakas, as Kelvin Herrera, Brandon Finnegan, Wade Davis, Tim Collins, Jason Frasor, Danny Duffy, and Greg Holland each shutdown the Angels after replacing Jason Vargas. The Royals continued to frustrate the Halos in Game 2, as the game went into extra innings tied 1-1. The game remained tied because of an outstanding play by Jared Dyson, who ran down a blast by Chris Iannetta and threw a perfect throw to Eric Hosmer, who tagged out Colin Cowgill attempting to tag up from second base. In the 11th inning, Royals magic would strike again Hosmer hitting a two-run home run off Kevin Jepsen. The Royals would add an insurance run and win the game 4-1 to take a 2-0 series lead home to Kansas City. MVP Mike Trout, who had not gotten a hit in the first two games, hit a solo home run off James Shields to open Game 3 at Kaufman Stadium. However, the Royals quickly answered back with three runs of C.J. Wilson in the bottom of the inning. Shields was sold, as Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer each homered to break the game open. The Royals complete the sweep of the ALDS with an 8-3 win. The Royals would face the Baltimore Orioles in a matchup of teams looking to end prolonged World Series droughts. Like Game 1 of the ALDS, Game 1 of the ALCS at Camden Yards would go to extra-inning, where Royals found more power, with Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas each going deep to lead the way to an 8-6 win in the tenth inning. The Royals postseason power was just a big part of the Royals magical October, as they had won three extra-inning games on the ball with long balls in a season in which they hit just 95 homers as a team fewest in all of baseball. Moustakas and the Royals would win with small-ball in Game 2, scratching out two runs in the ninth inning to win the game 6-4. After a rainout, the series resumed two days later with Lorenzo Cain looking like a windshield wiper as he ran down several long drives further to frustrate the Orioles in 2-1 win at Kaufman Stadium. Looking for a sweep, the Royals scratched out two runs in the first inning. It would be enough as Jason Vargas was solid, allowing just one run in six innings, before giving way to the three-man finishing core of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland. Lorenzo Cain, who frustrated the Orioles all series in the field, would be named ALCS MVP with a .533 batting average in the four-game sweep with eight hits, five runs.
2014 World Series: Facing the San Francisco Giants in the World Series, the Royals had become America’s favorite underdog. Game 1 at Kaufman Stadium would be a rough one for the Royals, as they could not solver Madison Bumgarner. The Royals did not score until Salvador Perez ended Bumgarner’s postseason road scoreless streak in the seventh inning. By then, the Giants already scored seven runs, starting with threes in the first inning on the way to an easy 7-1 win, ending the Royals eight-game postseason winning streak. The Royals would bounce back in Game 2, breaking open a 2-2 tie with a five-run sixth inning, as Omar Infante followed a two-run double by Salvador Perez and an RBI single from Lorenzo Cain with a two-run blast. As the series shifted to San Francisco, the Royals bullpen brought home another win with Kelvin Herrera getting Pablo Sandoval to ground out to halt a two-run rally in the sixth inning. The Royals would win the game 3-2, as Brandon Finnegan, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland shut the door. Finnegan made history becoming the first player in history to play in the College World Series and the World Series in the same year, earlier pitching in Omaha with TCU. Things looked good early in Game 4, as the Royals held a 4-1 lead after scoring four times in the third inning. However, the Royals would not add any runs, as the Giants roared back battering Finnegan for five earned runs to even the series with an 11-4 win. With Madison Bumgarner on the mound in Game 5, the Giants were able to regain control of the series with a 5-0 win, as the Giants ace went the distance, allowing just four hits for his second win of the series. Back in Kansas City for Game 6, the Royals came out swinging erupting for seven runs in the seventh inning to send the series to a seventh game with a 10-0 win as Yordano Ventura pitched seven shutout innings. Going into Game 7, one man overshadowed the Royals hopes, and that was Madison Bumgarner whom the Giants planned to use in long relief. The Giants scored first with two runs in the second inning. The Royals would answer back right away Billy Butler and Alex Gordon each driving in runs. The Giants would regain the lead, scratching out a run in the fourth inning. After failing the Royals failed to score against Jeremy Affeldt in the fourth inning, Bumgarner entered the game. Omar Infante would great the Giants ace with a leadoff single in the fifth inning but retired the next 14 batters before Alex Gordon came up as the Royals last hope with two outs in the ninth inning. Gordon would rip the ball to centerfield, where Gregor Blanco misplayed it. Gordon would reach third base but was held up by third base coach Mike Jirschele. Salvador Perez was not able to get Gordon home, popping up to Pablo Sandoval to end the game as the Giants won the World Series with a 3-2 win.
2015: After losing the World Series in a classic seven-game battle the Kansas City Royals still had their doubters as many thought their run to the Fall Classic was a fluke. Other than James Shields and Billy Butler, the Royals did not lose any significant players. To replace Butler, as their Designated Hitter, the Royals made an upgrade in power signing Kendrys Morales. Morales would go on to lead Kansas City with 22 home runs and 106 RBI. The Royals would get off to a fast, winning their first seven games, including a 10-1 win over the Chicago White Sox to open the season. The Royals again had one of the best bullpens in baseball as Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland continued to allow them to shorten the game. The Royals rotation was led by Yordano Ventura and Edison Volquez, who was signed to replace Shields. Each would win 13 games, while Chris Young expected to just be a long man out of the bullpen, won 11 games. The Royals would spend much of the first half in first place, as they went into the All-Star Break with the best record in the American League at 52-34. While the Royals were proving themselves as the team to beat, management was not satisfied and made some big moves at the trade deadline. After losing starting pitcher Jason Vargas to Tommy John surgery, the Royals’ priority was landing another starting pitcher that would see them land Johnny Cueto from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Brandon Finnegan and minor leaguers John Lamb and Cody Reed. The Royals landed utility man Ben Zobrist from the Oakland Athletics for Sean Manaea and Aaron Brooks to get another bat. Zobrist would be a terrific pick up for the Royals, hitting .284, with seven home runs, 37 runs scored, and 23 RBIs in 49 games with Kansas City. Cueto did not pitch well, as he struggled to adjust to the American League posting a record of 4-7 with an inflated ERA of 4.76. Despite Johnny Cueto’s struggles, the Royals pulled away in August, posting a record of 19-9. The Royals would struggle in September as Closer Greg Holland was lost to an elbow injury that would need Tommy John surgery. However, the division title was already wrapped up as Wade Davis assumed the closer’s role to perfection. The Royals would go on to finish the season with an American League-best record of 95-67.
2015 ALDS: In the Division Series, the Royals would take on the upstart Houston Astros, who were just two years removed from three straight 100-loss seasons. In the series opener at Kaufman Stadium, the Astros jumped out to an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura. Meanwhile, Colin McHugh was able to silence the Royals bats as the Astros won 5-2. Game 2 appeared to be a mirror image as the Astros again jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead and were in front 4-2 in the sixth inning. The Royals would begin their first postseason rally with a one-out double by Lorenzo Cain, who scored on an Eric Hosmer single. Hosmer himself would score to tie the game on a bases-loaded walk. The Royals would then take the lead in the seventh inning after Ben Zobrist singled home Alcides Escobar to even the series with a 5-4 win. The Royals faced a tall order in Game 3 as the series shifted to Houston, as Dallas Keuchel, who was the best pitcher in the American League, struck out seven to lead the Astros to a 4-2 win to regain control of the series. Things began to look bleak for the Royals as they trailed 6-2 after seven innings while facing elimination in Game 4—the Royals than found their October groove with five straight singles to cut the deficit to two runs. Kendrys Morales would then deliver a hard shot off the glove of reliever Tony Sipp to even the score. Alex Gordon’s RBI groundout would give the Royals the lead, while Eric Hosmer’s homer an inning later provided some insurance to send the series to a decisive Game 5, with a 9-6 win. In Game 5, at Kaufman Stadium, the Astros again drew first blood, with a two-run homer by Luis Valbuena in the second inning. That would be all the Astros could get off Johnny Cueto, who was otherwise dominant, allowing just two hits while striking out eight in eight innings pitched. The Royals would eventually take the lead during a three-run fifth sparked by Alex Rios’ double down the third baseline as Kendrys Morales put the game out of reach with a three-run blast in the eighth inning as the Royals won the game 7-2.
2015 ALCS: The Royals would face the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series. In Game 1, Edison Volquez was effectively wild pitching in and out of trouble all game, but keeping the Blue Jays big bats silent. Volquez combined with three relievers for a three-hit shutout as the Royals took the opener at Kaufman Stadium 5-0. The Blue Jays would get on the board in Game 2, as they took held a 3-0 lead with David Price in firm control after six innings retiring 18 batters in a row. In the seventh inning, the Royals would begin a rally with a seemingly innocent pop fly by Ben Zobrist that was fell between Ryan Goins and Jose Bautista. Four of the next six Royals would reach base as they scored five times to take the lead and win the game 6-3. As the series shifted to Toronto, the Blue Jays thunder finally showed up as Toronto pounded Johnny Cueto to win the game 11-8. Game 4 would be the Royals offense showing off the power as they scored four times in the first inning, with Ben Zobrist starting things off with a two-run blast off R.A. Dickey. The Royals would then blow apart the Jays bullpen with nine runs over the last three innings to win the game 14-4. The Blues Jays would not go down without a fight, winning 7-1 in Game 5 to send the series back to Kansas City. In Game 6, Zobrist would open the scoring again with a first-inning homer with Mike Moustakas adding a solo shot in the second to give Kansas City a 2-0 lead. The Jays would rally to tie the game 3-3 as Jose Bautista, who was thus far silent hit two long balls. After a 45-minute rain delay, Lorenzo Cain led off the bottom of the eighth with a walk. Eric Hosmer followed it up with a single left when Bautista threw the ball to second to hold Hosmer to a single, Cain hustling all the way came into score the go-ahead run, running the bases in 10.5 seconds. Wade Davis, who came on to pitch in the eighth, stayed in the game despite the long delay and struggled as the Toronto got the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position with one out. Davis would strike out Ben Revere and get Josh Donaldson to ground out to preserve the 4-3 win and send the Royals to their second straight World Series. Alcides Escobar, who hit .478 and led off four consecutive games with a base hit, would be named ALCS MVP.
2015 World Series: In the Fall Classic, the Kansas City Royals would face the New York Mets in the first-ever World Series to feature two post-1960 expansion teams. Things started great for the Royals when Alcides Escobar led off with an inside-the-park home run. It was the first inside the park home run in the World Series since 1929. The Mets behind the pitching of Matt Harvey would rally to take a 3-1 in the sixth inning. The Royals would tie the game on singles by Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. Hosmer would give it back misplaying a ground ball in the eighth inning to allow the Mets to regain the lead at 4-3. With Closer Jeurys Familia on the mound, the Royals again rallied as Alex Gordon tied the game with a one-out home run to straightaway center in the ninth. From there, the game would go long into the night, with each side making big plays in the field to keep the game tied 4-4. Finally, in the 14th inning, Escobar got a rally started by reaching base on a David Wright throwing error. He would go on to score the winning run on a sac fly by Alex Gordon. The Royals 5-4 in 14 innings matched the longest game’s record in World Series history and the longest ever series opener. Game 2 would see a battle of smoke as Johnny Cueto faced Jacob deGrom. Cueto was nearly flawless, allowing just one run on two hits as he went the distance in a 7-1 win. As the series shifted to New York, the Mets came out angry in Game 3 as Noah Syndergaard sailed the first pitch over the head of Alcides Escobar. The Mets would take out even more frustration on Royals starter Yordano Ventura scoring five times in four innings on the way to winning the game 9-3. With the Mets looking to even the series, the Royals were held off-balance all night by Rookie Lefty Steven Matz. The Royals thought would rally again, taking advantage of a Daniel Murphy error to score three runs in the eighth to win Game 4 by a 5-3 score. Late inning magic would be needed again in Game 5, as Matt Harvey dominated the Royals for eight innings. With Citi Field in an uproar and Harvey looking for a complete game, Lorenzo Cain led off the ninth with a walk. Eric Hosmer would follow it up with a double, scoring on two ground outs, including one where he broke late from third after David Wright threw out Moustakas at first. The game would go into extra innings with the Royals blowing things open with five runs in the 12th inning to win the game 7-2 and claim their first World Series crown in 30 years. Salvador Perez, who hit .364 in the series and drove in the go-ahead run in Game 5, would be named World Series MVP.
2016: After winning the World Series, the Kansas City Royals began the season with a World Series rematch on Opening Day as the hosted the New York Mets at Kaufman Stadium. With interleague play now ongoing throughout the season, it marked the first time that the teams that played in the World Series met to begin the following season. With a strong start by Edison Volquez, the Royals edged the Mets 4-3 in a nationally televised Sunday Night game. The Royals would get off to a strong start, winning eight of their first ten games. The Royals spent most of April in first place, before losing five straight to close the month with a record of 12-11. May would be a full reversal as they struggled at the start of the month, falling below .500, but ended the month with five straight wins and regained first place with a record of 29-22. May, however, would be a month to forget for Mike Moustakas after injuring his thumb at the start of the month, tore his ACL after coming off the 15-day disabled list, and was lost for the season. Moustakas’s loss would catch up with the Royals in June, as they suffered an eight-game losing streak. The Royals would finish June strong but found themselves six games behind the Cleveland Indians with a record of 42-36. However, July would see the Royals hopes of a return trip to the World Series fade away, as they suffered through a terrible record of 7-19, losing 11-of-13 on the road. Injuries and fatigue seemed to be the culprit in the Royals struggles, as nearly the entire pitching staff underperformed, with Edison Volquez posting a record of 10-11, with an ERA of 5.37. At the same time, Yordano Ventura went 11-12 with an ERA of 4.45. One pitcher who did not have a letdown season was Danny Duffy, who posted a record of 12-3, with an ERA of 3.51. The Royals would nearly get back in the race, with a strong August, as they won 20 games, highlighted by a nine-game winning streak. However, they could not carry the momentum into September, as they lost the first five games of a critical eight-game homestand. The Royals would go on to finish the season with a record of 81-81. One Royal who had a big season was Eric Hosmer, who played in his first All-Star Game and won the MVP with a home run off former teammate Johnny Cueto and hit 25 home runs with 104 RBI.
2017: One year removed from winning the World Series, the sun had set on this era of Kansas City Royals baseball as they had several expiring contracts, with it being unlikely that would re-sign their top stars. In stark contrast to the previous opening day, when their championship was celebrated, the start of the 2017 season was a somber one as the Royals ace pitcher, Yordano Ventura, was killed at the age of 25 in a car accident in the Dominican Republic on January 22nd. The Royals missed Ventura sorely as they no longer had a frontline pitcher they could rely on. As the gloomy April came to an end, the Royals found themselves amid a nine-game losing streak that saw them finish the month with a record of 7-16. After a posting a 15-14 in May, the Royals clawed their way back to .500 in June as they won 17 games. A big key the Royals turnaround was Jason Vargas, who posted a 12-3 record in the first half of the season to earn his first-ever All-Star Game appearance. Vargas went on to lead the American League in wins, posting a record of 18-11 with a 4.16 ERA. The Royals continued to play solid baseball after the All-Star Game, as they reeled off a nine-game winning streak and finished July in contention for the Wild Card with a record of 55-49, which prevented the team from making any type of fire sale. In hindsight, that may not have been the best thing for the Royals future, as the team also failed to make any additions and went into a month-long slump in August, losing 18 games. The month was marked by a 45 inning stretch where they Royals failed to score, as the first-place Cleveland Indians outscored them in a three-game series at Progressive Field 20-0. The bad August ended any hope of returning to the playoffs, as Kansas City finished the year in third place with a record of 80-82. Mike Moustakas was the Royals top power hitter with 38 home runs and 85 RBI. Salvador Perez meanwhile had 27 home runs with 27 home runs and 80 RBI. In their final seasons with the Royals, Eric Hosmer batted .318 with 25 home runs and 94 RBI, while Lorenzo Cain hit .300 with 15 home runs, 49 RBI and 86 runs scored.
2018: Just a few years removed from their 2015 World Series title, the Kansas City Royals hoped to make one more October push before entering another inevitable rebuild. The team lost starting first baseman Eric Hosmer to the San Diego Padres and center fielder Lorenzo Cain to the Milwaukee Brewers in free agency. The Royals were able to bring back Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar. Kansas City’s plans to compete quickly became a pipe dream as they started the season at 7-21. After a decent May, the Royals season spiraled out of control in June as they went 5-21 on the month and fell to 25-57 on this season. The lousy play carried to July as they suffered a ten-game losing streak as July began. Catcher Salvador Perez served as the Royals lone representative at the 2018 All-Star game, and not long after, the team started to trade away pieces. Moustakas was traded to the Brewers for Jorge Lopez and Brett Phillips. At the same time, reliever Kelvin Herrera was dealt to the Washington Nationals for minor leaguers Yohanse Morel, Blake Perkins, and Kelvin Gutierrez. Despite the trades, the Royals finished the season on a higher note as they won a season-best six straight games as September began and posted a 15-13 record over the final month. This kept them from posting baseball’s worst record as they finished 54-104 and in last place in the American League Central. Despite the lost season, second baseman and outfielder Whit Merrifield led the majors in hits while Perez took home the gold glove and silver slugger awards.
Written by Aaron Gershon
2019: It was another long season for the rebuilding Kansas City Royals, who lost their best player Salvador Perez to an elbow injury at the start of Spring Training. The catcher would miss the entire season after needing Tommy John surgery. The offseason was relatively quiet for Kansas City. They did add a pair of former Cincinnati Reds in Billy Hamilton and Homer Bailey and signed reliever Jake Diekman who would all turn into trade chips come summertime. The Royals won their opening series with Chicago White Sox to start the season and move above .500 for the first time since 2018. March 30th would be their last day above .500 as they went a horrid 7-19 during April 10-18 in May and 10-17 in June to enter July with a record 29-55. Whit Merrifield served as the Royals lone All-Star representative in Cleveland. Before the stretch run, the Royals traded Hamilton to the Atlanta Braves and both Bailey and Diekman to the Oakland A’s in separate deals. The Royals would never finish a month above .500 as they went onto finish the year with a record 59-103. On September 23rd, long-time manager Ned Yost who led the Royals a World Series championship in 2015, announced he would retire after the season. The most significant bright spot of the Royals season was outfielder Jorge Soler who broke out with a 48 home run season to lead the American League.
Written by Aaron Gershon
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Page created on June 14, 2001. Last updated on July 2, 2020, at 12:55 pm ET.