Spring offers hope for every team, yet only a few of them can have realistic hope at contention. While the Kansas City Royals might not fit into that category, here are three reasons why they will hit the over on their projected 68.5 wins.
3 Reasons Why The Royals Will Hit The Over
The Royals have developed a solid core of young hitters to set the foundations of this roster. Bobby Witt Jr, one of the most exciting young players in baseball, is set to take another step forward after an impressive rookie campaign. His on-base skills will need to improve after posting a .294 OBP with a chase rate in only the 16th percentile, according to Baseball Savant. However, he showcased several other skills to hint at his potential. He was in the 93rd percentile for max exit velocity, as well as the 100th percentile for sprint speed as he made his way to thirty stolen bases. With the new rules implemented this season, he might even be inclined to surpass thirty bags.
M.J. Melendez is another interesting case for a breakout season. Melendez was essentially league average last season, with a 99 OPS+, but some key numbers suggest there is more to come. His on-base percentage was almost one hundred points higher than his average, even with a significant number of strikeouts. His underlying power metrics are a sign he could build on his home run total of eighteen from last season.
And, of course, Vinnie Pasquantino. The industry is high on Pasquantino becoming a star, and for good reason. Across 72 games last season, he slashed .295/.383/.450. He even walked 35 times, compared to 34 strikeouts. His first full season will offer a tantalizing taste of what is to come for Royals fans.
These three players are good enough to form a threatening lineup to win on any given day. They will have the chance to exceed expectations this year as the Royals look to compete in the next few years with a talented, young core of hitters leading the way. The youth this team possesses is why Kansas City will hit the over in 2023.
The most disappointing aspect of the Royals franchise over the past few years has been the inability to develop pitching, despite investing so many resources. However, significant changes to the coaching staff should alter the outlook for the rotation and developing prospects, causing the Royals to hit the over in 2023.
While there are plenty of mixed opinions about Brady Singer, he is certainly capable of being an above-average pitcher. The supporting cast around him should be much improved, too. Returning pitchers are adding new pitches to their repertoire and adjusting their pitch mix. Veterans such as Jordan Lyles and Zack Greinke will keep games competitive. There might not be much star power in the rotation, but it should be an improvement from last year if veterans provide consistent performances and some of the former top prospects can turn around their careers.
Progression From Last Season
The Royals Over/Under is 68.5 wins. Last season, they won 65 games. It is easy to buy into the idea of a team with so many young players and interesting veterans jumping up just a few wins. While the balanced schedule will mean playing more of the elite teams around baseball, the American League Central is still far from the most threatening.
There are a handful of players who could make a significant difference if they bounce back from a poor 2022. For example, Kyle Isbel posted a 70 OPS+ after showcasing some potential in his rookie campaign. Nicky Lopez‘s on-base percentage dropped from .365 to .281, equating to a 58 OPS+. If players like this rebound as the young stars find their breakout years, the Royals will hit the over on 68.5 wins.
Main Image: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports