The Royals are reaping the benefits of an offseason spending spree

As I stated in my latest article on SB Nation’s Mothership, my personal rule of thumb when it comes to early season baseball standings is that it’s not worth stressing about the results until Memorial Day at the earliest. . That being said, that day is right around the corner, and there’s one story in particular that needs to be talked about.

everyone, Kansas City Royals is good. They currently have his fourth-best record in the American League, with a significant gap over the team currently in fifth place. This is a very special year for the Royals, his best start to a season since 2015, when he won his second consecutive American League championship before winning the World Series. Yes, this actually happened. It was shot in 4K. If you look hard enough, you can find Blu-Ray online.

Regardless, the Royals are on track to start the season and are already some distance away from the Twins, who are barely above .500 at this point in the season. Meanwhile, the Royals are 31-19, just 1.5 games behind the Guardians for first place in the AL Central Division, and this impressive start has done wonders for their outlook for the rest of the season.

Before the season started, FanGraphs predicted the Royals had just a 7.5% chance of winning the division and a 13.2% chance of making the postseason. Now, the chance of winning the district has jumped to 30% and the chance of making the postseason has increased to 57.4%. For comparison, the Astros have a 34.1% chance of winning the American League West and a 53% chance of making the postseason. Yes, that’s right. Right now, the Kansas City Royals have a better chance of making the playoffs than a team that has reached the American League Championship Series for seven straight years.

That being said, I think the person least surprised by this development is actually the Kansas City Royals organization itself. They were definitely a team that expected to have a good season and spent money. Last offseason, they had a top-five spending spree, which is unusual in all of baseball. They also paid big money to Bobby Witt Jr. and worked hard to ensure that the cornerstone of this franchise remained that way for the next 11 seasons. It’s no exaggeration to say that the superstar has lived up to the Royals’ trust. produced a wonderful work Here in Kansas City in 2024.

Witt has a batting average of .304/.362/.546, wOBA of .345, xwOBA of .428, wRC+ of 147, 7 home runs, and 16 stolen bases. He’s doing everything he can for the Royals, and that includes defense – Witt is currently in the 100th percentile Regarding outs above average He’s in the same position when it comes to sprint speed and base running value. It seems like Witt is going to shatter any expectations he had going into this season, which is saying something considering those were lofty expectations. The Royals believe 2023 breakout Witt is the real deal, and now he’s on a mission to prove it.

Witt isn’t the only one getting excited. Salvador Perez has had a bounce-back season and is now on track to have the best season of his career – and at 34 years old, no less! Perez’s BABIP of .378 this season is clearly an outlier compared to his career BABIP of .291, but it’s possible that a hitter of Perez’s caliber can get back to form like Perez did here. It’s not completely gone. It also helps that Perez currently has a 7.3 percent walk rate and is on track to beat his career-high walk rate (4.2 percent in 2021). It was a seasonal renaissance. Salvador Perez is having a great season so far, and the Royals are certainly hoping he can continue that form and ultimately have his best season yet.

Witt and Perez have been outstanding at the plate and in the field for the Royals, but much of their offseason investment has paid off on the mound. The Royals spent a lot of money to strengthen their pitching staff, and so far it seems like the money has been well spent. His current ERA for Kansas City’s pitching staff is 84 (3.41 ERA) and his FIP is 93 (3.68 FIP). Both of these numbers are good enough to rank in the top five in all of baseball. On to pitching.

Seth Lugo and Michael Wacha are two of Kansas City’s top rotation signings this offseason, and so far they’ve delivered exactly as expected. Lugo is currently tied with Cole Lagance in terms of fWAR. Lagance has a 91 ERA (3.70 ERA), a 64 FIP (2.57 FIP) and a 1.6 fWAR in 10 starts, while Lugo holds his place. He had a 44 ERA (1.79 ERA), 81 FIP-81 (3.20 FIP), and a good 1.5 fWAR in his first 10 starts.

Michael Wacha wasn’t that great of a player (as evidenced by his 110 ERA and 99 FIP), but they didn’t need him to be that. Instead, Wacha will be a steady presence in the rotation to ensure there is no significant drop-off from what young big guns like Ragans, Brady Singer, and Alec Marsh have been doing on the mound thus far. ing. Wacha and Lugo gave this Kansas City rotation exactly what it needed heading into this season. And now, suddenly, the Royals have gone from a team with poor pitching to one of the most formidable rotations in all of baseball.

Now, with KC’s record, you might think this is not a case where the pitchers were responsible for everything. Now we need to take a closer look at Kansas City’s batting record. With a slightly below average team wRC+ of 99, you might think this team won’t be able to hit consistently. According to Jon Becker of FanGraphs, It was pointed out on May 15th, This is a team that has figured out how to break through in the clutch.

94 wRC+ overall? Forget it. Their wRC+ was 132 when he had runners in scoring position, 131 when he was on base, and 137 when he came into a dozen at-bats with the bases loaded. They weren’t much better at high-leverage spots (101 wRC+), but it’s still clearly better than their wRC+ in all other situations (94).

Becker was sure to point out that clutch hitting isn’t something to be trusted long term, but as long as it is for the Royals, it should continue for as long as possible. Bobby Witt Jr. and Salvador Perez are the real deal, and if they can get a little more consistency from guys like Michael Garcia, Michael Massey and Vinny Pasquantino, it’s easy to see the Royals staying on track through this marathon regular season.

In summary, if you’re a Royals fan and are happy with how this season has gone so far, you have every right to be optimistic. The pitching is definitely there, the hitting is opportunistic enough to make an impact, and the star players who needed to perform are certainly doing their jobs. I’m not exactly going to start planning things like Kansas City parades, but at least the Royals seem to be involved in the race to the postseason this season. Considering how everything has gone for Kansas City all but a few seasons since the turn of this century, that’s all you can hope for as a fan.