Category Archives: Custom Kansas City Royals Jerseys

Frank White Jersey

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Another offseason, another Gold Glove nomination for Kansas City Royals left fielder Alex Gordon, who is vying for his seventh award.
From the department of “Have we been here before?” it was announced today that Alex Gordon is up for another Gold Glove nomination. If he were to win this season, this would add to his 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2018 crownings as a member of the Kansas City Royals.

This will be his highest fielding percentage for a year since 2013, when he made one error in 341 chances for a .997 mark. He also only made one error in 2019 but with only 276 chances his percentage dropped to .996. His lone error was not fielding a baseball but on a throw way back on May 8th at the Los Angeles Angels.

His seven outfield assists are the lowest since 2016 but that is a combination of fewer chances hit his way and teams not being willing to run on Gordon despite his aging arm. Compared to other outfielders, he fielded his position 11 points higher than league average which is an amazing difference.

Congrats on being named a Rawlings #GoldGlove Award finalist, Gordo! #AlwaysRoyal

He also started two double plays for the Kansas City Royals and on all plays hit his direction that had a 40-60 percent chance of being fielding successfully, he closed the deal a ridiculous 88.9 percent of the time. If he were to win, Gordon would tie Frank White for most Gold Gloves in Kansas City Royals franchise history. Overall he would only be behind Ken Griffey Jr. for placing in the top three overall in outfield Gold Gloves won.

Not bad for a player who did not begin playing the outfield full-time until his fifth year in the majors converting from third base. He was 27 years old when that happened and the next season he won his first Gold Glove. On top of all the Gold Gloves won, in 2014 Gordon received the American League Platinum Glove which is an award from the fans who vote on the best defensive player from that season’s Gold Glove winners.

Imagine if Gordon came up with the Kansas City Royals playing left field the entire time and his bat was producing to keep him in the lineup. He could easily be challenging for the all-time lead in this award for outfielders.

Larry Gura Jersey

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The summer of 1980 was one of the hottest summers on record. The blazing summer heat gave way to three brilliant pennant races in major league baseball. In the National League East, it took a two-run home run in the top of the 11th inning in the second to last game of the season to propel the Philadelphia Phillies, past the people’s choice, the Montreal Expos by one game. Peine d’amour in Montreal. In the National League West, the Los Angeles Dodgers went into the final series of the season needing to sweep the division leading Houston Astros, and they did just that, winning each game by one run which forced a one-game playoff. The Astros prevailed in the playoff game, 7-1, to earn the first division title in the team’s history.

In the American League East, the New York Yankees needed 103 wins to best the runner up Baltimore Orioles, who stayed home despite having the second-best record in all of baseball at 100-62. The only division that did not generate any late summer heat was the American League West, where the Royals, powered by the virtuoso performance of George Brett easily outdistanced the Oakland A’s, winning the West by a 14-game margin.

The fireworks continued into the National League Championship Series, as the Phillies advanced to the World Series for the first time since 1950 by beating the Astros three-games-to-two. Just saying it like that makes it sound pretty boring, but the truth was, this was one of the most exciting five games series ever played. Philadelphia took game one, 3-1 behind a strong performance by Steve Carlton. Houston captured Game Two with a 7-4 ten inning win. The series shifted to Houston for Game Three, which went to the Astros by the score of 1-0, as the Astros scrapped together a run in the bottom of the 11th against Tug McGraw. In Game Four, the Phillies held a 3-2 lead going into the bottom of the ninth before the Astros rallied for a single run to send the game to extra innings. The Phillies answered in the top of the tenth, with hits from Pete Rose, Greg Luzinski and Manny Trillo to stake them to a 5-3 lead. McGraw put the Astros down in order in the bottom of the 10th to tie the series at two games apiece.

The series spun on Game Five. The Phillies started Marty Bystrom, while the Astros countered with Nolan Ryan. You’d have to assume the Vegas odds-makers favored the Astros in this one. The game was tied going into the bottom of the 7th before the Astros broke loose, capitalizing on three hits, a walk and a wild pitch to push across three runs. With the score 5-2 and Nolan Ryan throwing heat, it looked bleak for the Phillies. The Philly bats woke up and chased Ryan with three singles and a walk. Then the flood gates opened. With two outs, Del Unser stroked a single to right and Manny Trillo followed with a triple into the left field gap. When the dust settled, the scoreboard read Phillies 7, Astros 5.

In the bottom of the 8th, the Astros managed to string together four singles, good for two runs and a tie ballgame. In the top of the tenth, the Phillies Del Unser hit a one out double and Garry Maddox grooved a two-out double for the RBI to put Philadelphia ahead 8-7. Dick Ruthven set the Astros down in order in the tenth to deliver the Phillies to the World Series. The series remains to this day one of the most exciting series I have ever seen.

Over on the American League side, it was déjà vu all over again. For the fourth time in five years, the New York Yankees and the Kansas City Royals would do battle. Game One, played at Royals Stadium, went to the Royals 7-2 behind a strong pitching performance by Larry Gura. Gura was a Yankee castoff and usually reserved his best for his former team. In this game he scattered ten hits while pitching a complete game. There was some tension early on as Rick Cerone and Lou Piniella tagged Gura for back-to-back home runs in the top of the second, giving the Yankees a quick 2-0 lead. Kansas City got one back in their half of the second on a Frank White double, which brought home Amos Otis.

The Royals took the lead in the third with Brett working Ron Guidry for a one-out walk. Amos Otis came through with a two-out ground rule double to score Brett. After intentionally walking John Wathan, Willie Mays Aiken dropped a single into left field to score Brett and Otis and give the Royals the lead. The score stayed 4-2 until Brett mashed a one-out home run off Yankee reliever Ron Davis in the 7th. The Royals added some security in the 8th when Darrel Porter reached on a two-out error. Frank White singled to left and Willie Wilson brought them both home with a double to center.

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Here are your 1980 Kansas City Royals
Game Two was played Thursday evening, October 9th in Kansas City. The Yankees started left-handed Rudy May and the Royals countered with their workhorse, Dennis Leonard. May went the distance for New York and only allowed six hits. Unfortunately for him, four of them were consecutive hits in the Royals third. With one out, Porter stroked a single to right. Frank White followed with another single. Willie Wilson then delivered the big blow, a triple into the right field corner. U.L. Washington followed with a double to center, giving the Royals a 3-0 lead.

Leonard was cruising until the Yanks nicked him in the fifth. Graig Nettles, who always seemed to be a burr in the Royals saddle, hit a one-out inside the park home run. Leonard got Bucky Dent on a ground out but gave up a two out walk to some stiff named Bobby Brown. Willie Randolph, another Royal burr, made him pay when he delivered a double to right. 3-2 Kansas City. Dan Quisenberry came on to work the ninth and with two Yankees on base, induced Nettles to hit into a game ending 4-6-3 double play, much to the relief of the 42,633 partisans in attendance. Upon further review, Brown wasn’t quite the stiff I recall. He managed to stay in the league for seven seasons, getting 1,277 at bats with four teams, and delivered a .245/.295/.355 slash line.

The series shifted to New York for Game Three, which was played on Friday evening, October 10th. 56,588 fans packed into Yankee Stadium for the game and it was a classic battle of crafty lefties: Paul Splittorff against Tommy John. The Royals struck first, grabbing a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth, thanks to a Frank White home run. New York answered with two runs in the bottom of the 6th. Reggie Jackson hit a one out double, chasing Splittorff. Royals manager Jim Frey went to his best reliever, calling on Quisenberry to get the final 11 outs.

It didn’t start out too promising. Oscar Gamble and Rick Cerone hit consecutive singles off Quiz to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead as the crowd roared its approval. This set the stage for perhaps one of the most famous innings in Kansas City baseball history. Tommy John got John Wathan on a ground out and set down Frank White on strikes before giving up a double to Willie Wilson. Yankee skipper Dick Howser walked to the mound and gave the ball to Goose Gossage.

The Goose was the epitome of a bad-ass reliever. Gossage stood 6’3 and sported wavy hair and a Fu Manchu mustache. His demeanor on the mound suggested a man who was perpetually pissed off and just looking at him was enough to frighten most sane people. He had a high leg kick which helped propel his fastballs toward the plate in the upper 90’s. Between 1975 and 1986, he was one of the best relievers in the game and in 1980 he was in his snarling prime.

In this game it didn’t matter. U.L. Washington coolly beat out an infield single, which brought George Brett to the plate. Watching the game on television in my parents living room, I had the feeling that the entire series hung on this at bat. George didn’t disappoint. 1980 was his year and no one could stop him. Brett knew a fastball was coming. Power vs. power, mano a mano.

George didn’t miss, depositing the ball into the upper deck of Yankee Stadium. Announcer Al Michaels said that over his entire career, this moment was the quickest transition from a loud ruckus to absolute silence that he’s ever experienced at a sporting event. Just to remind the Yankee fans and Gossage who their daddy was, Brett took 23 seconds to round the bases. Believe me, I timed it. After his leisurely stroll around the bases, Brett was mobbed by his teammates. Quisenberry worked a clean 7th, then escaped a bases loaded, no out jam in the 8th, thanks to a sweet 6-4 double play, which froze the Yankee runner at third. Howser went with Tom Underwood in the 8th, sending Gossage to the showers to search for his missing testicles. In the ninth, Quiz sat down Nettles and Brown on fly balls before getting Willie Randolph looking and the party was on.

Dennis Leonard Jersey

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In 1982, Dwight Clark launched the 49er’s football dynasty with “The Catch”. The baseball season got off to a cold start when an April 6th blizzard dumped up to 24 inches of snow on most of the Northeast, delaying Opening Day for several teams. The music scene didn’t improve much in 1982, but John Cougar had a couple of decent hits. He wisely went back to his birth name, Mellencamp. Journey released a little ditty called “Don’t Stop Believing” which is still sung at karaoke parties, weddings and bar closings across this great nation. The song only peaked at #73, as American listeners were enthralled by classic hits like Physical, Centerfold and Don’t you want me. Looking at the Billboard Top 100 for 1982 makes me question the musical taste of my brothers and sisters. Things were a little brighter at the theater with hits like ET, Diner, Porky’s, 48 Hours and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The Dow Jones Average closed the year at 1,046.54, the first time it ended a year above 1,000.

In baseball, Gaylord Perry won his 300th game, Rickey Henderson stole a record 130 bases and Hank Aaron was elected to the Hall of Fame. To this day I’m still astounded that nine writers did not vote for the then all-time home run king. Who are those guys? Carl “bleeping” Yastrzemski finally retired, and Satchel Paige passed away. Whitey Herzog won a World Series…with St. Louis, which defeated Milwaukee in a fine seven game series. Former Royal Darrel Porter was the MVP of the Series.

After their strange playoff appearance of 1981, the Royals made several off-season moves in an attempt to take advantage of their window. General Manager Joe Burke made seven trades in the off-season, of which only one paid off. That was the first trade he made in October of 1981 when he sent Manny Castillo to the Mariners for a player to be named later, which ended up being pitcher Bud Black. Black had a nice seven-year Royal career, winning 56 games while throwing 977 innings, good for almost 13 WAR and an ERA+ of 111.

The other trades? Not so hot. In three separate trades, Burke gave away talented youngsters Rance Mulliniks, Atlee Hammaker and Ken Phelps in return for aging pitchers Grant Jackson and Vida Blue and some spare parts.

Burke fared better in the June amateur draft. Their first-round pick, outfielder John Morris, was later traded to St. Louis in May of 1985 for Lonnie Smith, who played an integral role on the 1985 Championship team. They blew their second and third round picks before selecting a high school first baseman named Will Clark in the fourth round. Unfortunately, they couldn’t sign Clark and he went to Mississippi State and became a first-round pick with the Giants.

Burke scored big in the 19th round, when the Royals selected a high school shortstop out of Reseda, California named Bret Saberhagen. The 1982 draft wasn’t loaded with future stars, but it did produce many serviceable players. The lowest drafted player to make the majors was a young outfielder chosen by Cincinnati in the 42nd round with the 823rd pick named Jeff Montgomery. Yes, that Jeff Montgomery, who made his debut with the Reds in 1987 as a pitcher and was traded to the Royals in February of 1988. Monty as you well know, went on to save 304 games in his Kansas City career which earned him induction in the Royals Hall of Fame. The Montgomery trade remains one of the greatest heists in Royals history. Monty accumulated almost 21 WAR in his 12 year Royals career while garnering an ERA+ of 138. The player traded for Montgomery, Van Snider played in 19 games over parts of the 1988 and 1989 seasons for Cincinnati, picking up 7 hits in 35 at-bats.

In the secondary phase of the draft, the Royals used their fourth round pick on a young man named Cecil Fielder. Unfortunately, they gave up on Fielder before he matured into a home run mashing star. They traded him to Toronto for outfielder Leon Roberts. Fielder played parts of four seasons in Toronto then spent a season in Japan before turning into a star in Detroit as a 26-year-old, leading the league in home runs twice and in RBI three times. Roberts, meanwhile, hit eight home runs and 27 RBI in 112 games as a Royal.

The Royals finished the 1982 season at 90-72, which in some years would be good enough for a playoff berth, but not in 1982. They finished second to a 93-win California team.

From 1976 to 1985, The Royals won at least 90 games in six seasons. They made the playoffs in each of those seasons…except for 1982. They spent 53 days in first place, the last of which was September 19. They had a two-game lead on September 17 but lost 11 of their final 17 games to kill any hopes of a Western Division championship. There’s nothing that really stands out about their record or why they couldn’t win the division. They played well in close games, winning 26 of 43 contests decided by one run. In the end California was just a bit better. The Angels were legit. They had Bob Boone, Fred Lynn, Bobby Grich, Rod Carew, Doug DeCinces, Brian Downing, Reggie Jackson and Don Baylor. That’s eight solid bats. Their staff ERA was 3.82 and they got career years from a few pitchers, most notably Geoff Zahn, who went 18-8. The Angels picked up Tommy John from the Yankees at the trade deadline and John delivered, beating Kansas City twice in the last 11 games of the season.

The Royals had some hot bats of their own. Hal McRae had a monster year for the Royals, slashing .308/.369/.542 with 27 home runs, a league leading 46 doubles and a league best and club record 133 RBI’s. Mac had a career best 332 total bases which was good for 4.1 WAR, a 4th place finish in the league MVP race and a Sliver Slugger award.

George Brett had a down year by his standards, but still put up a .301/.378/.505 line with 21 home runs, 82 RBI, and 101 runs scored. Willie Wilson blossomed into a full-fledged superstar by racking up 194 hits while winning the A.L. batting title with a .332/.365/.431 slash line. Wilson led the league with 15 triples and stole 37 bases while winning a Silver Slugger. Frank White also had an excellent year, with a .298/.318/.469 line which included 45 doubles. The batting average and doubles were career highs for Frank. He also led American League second basemen with 361 putouts and won his sixth consecutive Gold Glove. John Wathan set a major league record with most steals by a catcher by swiping 36 bags.

Kansas City Royals v New York Yankees
The pitching staff was led by Larry Gura, who won a career best 18 games. Injuries limited Dennis Leonard to 130 innings and a 10-6 record. Dan Quisenberry led the league with 35 saves and posted a 9-7 record. Quiz appeared in 72 games and threw 136 innings all of which helped him finish third in the Cy Young voting and ninth in the MVP tally.

The Royals had some interesting games in 1982:

McRae and Willie Mays Aikens both had five hit games, McRae’s coming on May 29th at Texas and Aiken’s on June 6 versus the Yankees.
Frank White hit for the cycle against the Tigers on August 3 and did it in dramatic fashion, delivering a two-out triple in the bottom of the ninth to score Onix Concepcion to give the Royals a 6-5 victory.
Aikens tied a club record with seven RBI in an 11-4 Royal victory over Oakland on September 30th.
The highlight of the pitching staff was a one-hitter thrown by Vida Blue on September 13 in a game at Royals Stadium against the Seattle Mariners. He only blemish on Blue’s night was a two-out single by former Yankee Bobby Brown in the sixth inning. Blue struck out six and only walked two in a game that scored an 89.

Kansas City Royals v New York Yankees
On the Royals roster that summer was a young first baseman named Dennis Werth, whose stepson, Jayson Werth, would later go on to star for the Phillies. The community supported the Royals with almost 2.3 million fans going through the turnstiles. George Brett was the highest paid Royal, at a salary of $1 million, which seems quaint by today’s inflated standards. It’s almost laughable when compared on a salary/production basis to what some of the floating turds on the 2019 roster are making.

Five Royals made the All-Star team in 1982: Brett, McRae, White, Wilson and Quisenberry.

As for the Angels, they lost a five game Championship Series to the Brewers, who were also loaded with talent. The Brew Crew had mashers Ted Simmons, Cecil Cooper, Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Ben Oglivie and Gorman Thomas. Their pitching staff was led by Pete Vuckovich and Mike Caldwell, who won 18 and 17 games respectively. Rollie Fingers had 29 saves. Vuckovich deserves special mention as he played one of the all-time great baseball movie characters, the arch villain Haywood, in Major League. Has there ever been a better line than “How’s your wife and my kids?” Also, on that 1982 Brewer team was a 27-year-old backup catcher who hit a career high .276/.324/.429 in 98 at-bats. His name? Ned Yost.

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Thursday’s press conference and announcement of Mike Matheny as the 17th manager of the Kansas City Royals was not a surprise.
The surprise is the reaction from a Kansas City Royals fan base that should be excited about the future of the organization rather than question the decision.

Mike Matheny was hired at the end of the 2018 season as special adviser for player development. Ironically, it was the same position Ned Yost had prior to replacing Trey Hillman at the beginning of the 2010 season.

For those that forget, Yost was fired by the Brewers with just 12 games remaining in the 2008 campaign. That same year the Brewers made it to the NLDS where they lost to the eventual World Series Champion Phillies in five games.

Both managers have taken the same path to becoming managers of the Royals to include being the only managers ever fired during the season with winning records.

Thursday’s press conference gave most us the first chance at hearing from Matheny since he was relieved by the Cardinals. His message was very clear; Mike Matheny loves the game of baseball. Not only did he loved it as a player, but he loves to manage. That is important to winning in Kansas City.

The majority of the criticism that has been placed on Mike Matheny has come from the fans of the St. Louis Cardinals, who have grown accustom to being over critical and quick to place blame when their team doesn’t win.

We have heard all the stories that Matheny was fired by the Cardinals because the culture in the clubhouse eroded. He was criticized for what was believed to be hazing towards younger players and being stubborn to make changes in the lineup.

Hazing has no place in today’s society period, but being stubborn describes most managers in MLB. Not just Mike Matheny.

As the special adviser for player development, Matheny has had the chance to reflect and decide if he indeed was ready to make the return to the dugout. He has had the ability to spend time in the Royals farm system to evaluate and be a part of the development of some of the younger players that are critical to success of the franchise’s future.

It’s a future that appears very similar to a decision to hire Ned Yost in 2010. It was a decision by Dayton Moore that ultimately landed Kansas City a World Series and most likely the number 3 retired next to Dick Howser‘s number 10 in left field.

Matheny spent nearly six seasons as the Cardinals’ skipper and had a winning percentage of .555 with appearances in four playoffs to include one World Series in 2013. Not a bad resumé if one simply ignores all the critics.

Thursday, Matheny was quoted as saying “I don’t think you can ever trust a leader without a limp.” Royals fans shouldn’t give him a cane or crutch, but rather give him a chance. He has probably learned from his mistakes and might just get the Royals back to the playoffs sooner rather than later.

Remember that the Cardinals and their fans also ran off a guy by the name of Joe Torre.

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Highly touted pitching prospect Brady Singer impressed in his first full season of professional baseball, surpassing many expectations the Royals set for his first season in the minors.

Kansas City’s first-round draft pick from 2018 has lived up to his reputation as a polished pitcher and intense competitor with dynamic stuff, but he also did his share of learning and even hit a few minor bumps in the road on his fast track to the majors.

His first season in the minors added to the intrigue surrounding the former national college pitcher of the year and provided a clearer picture of the strides he still needs to make before he’s ready to become a mainstay in the Royals’ major-league rotation.

“When you reflect on the year he had, he met all expectations and probably exceeded expectations,” Royals assistant general manager/player personnel JJ Picollo said. “He didn’t get the chance to compete in 2018 just because of that groin issue he had going. We decided to go slow with that. He didn’t have the benefit that some of the other guys had in ‘18 of getting his feet wet.”

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Baseball America and MLBPipeline.com each rank Singer, who turned 23 in August, among the top 100 prospects in baseball. MLBPipeline ranks him the top pitching prospect in the Royals’ farm system.

This season, between High-A and Double-A, Singer posted a 12-5 record with a 2.85 ERA in 26 starts (148 1/3 innings). He struck out 138, walked 39 and posted a 1.19 WHIP and an opponent’s batting average of .247.

He earned Carolina League midseason All-Star honors and finished the season by garnering the Royals’ Double-A Pitcher of the Year award.

“One of the things that has been emphasized to Brady — and he’s done a good job embracing it and trying to get better with it — is the development of his changeup,” Picollo said. “His usage (of the changeup) went up as the year went on, which is a great sign that he was gaining confidence in using that pitch.”

Singer’s fastball and slider have been viewed as major-league-caliber pitches since he was coming out of the University of Florida.

While Singer has shown ability to dominate in the minors with those two pitches (though left-handed hitters batted 100 points higher against him in his 10 starts in High-A), the third pitch will be crucial as he faces more advanced and experienced hitters.

By the end of the season, Singer felt like he’d gained a consistent feel for the changeup.

“I could throw it in the zone and out of the zone when I wanted to, just kind of like my slider,” Singer said while in Kansas City at the end of September. “I could get ahead with my slider and then I could throw it out of the zone. I feel like I could do that with my changeup as well.”

Singer credited both Wilmington pitching coach Steve Luebber and Northwest Arkansas pitching coach Doug Henry for working through Singer’s growing pains with the changeup as he tried different ways of throwing it.

“We made a little bit of adjustments, grip-wise and where to put some pressure on. I think a lot of it is just the way I’m thinking of throwing it — throw it just like a fastball,” Singer said.

Henry described Singer’s changeup as “a little firm” at times, meaning it’s harder than ideal to create the desired separation between it and the fastball to a hitter (he’s thrown a low- to mid-90s fastball and a changeup in the upper 80s at times). But Henry contends that Singer just needs to trust it down in the strike zone.

“It’s a plus pitch,” Henry said. “It’s not something he’s going to have to take a whole lot of time working with again. It’s a big-league pitch. It’s definitely not just a show pitch. He can use it to get outs, and he realized that by the end of the year.”

Henry, who spent 11 seasons as a pitcher in the majors, served as the Royals’ bullpen coach for five years prior to 2018. That included the AL pennant run in 2014 and the World Series championship run in 2015.

The pitching coach in Wilmington in 2018, Henry hadn’t worked with Singer until this summer. Singer quickly confirmed everything Henry had heard about his character, off-the-charts work ethic and competitive fire.

“He’s an incredible competitor. As a coach, he’s fun to work with,” Henry said.

When Singer arrived after his promotion from Wilmington, Henry sat him down in front of a computer video system. At the time, Singer didn’t know much, if anything, about all the video and information available to him.

While that could’ve been overwhelming or daunting, Singer deciphered what he needed and didn’t to prepare effectively and efficiently inside of his first two weeks. To Henry’s surprise, he simplified things in a way his old-school pitching coach appreciated.

“He just goes, ‘I’m here to get people out,’” Henry said. “I just thought: ‘I think I like this guy.’”

STUBBORNLY STELLAR
Henry noticed while working with Singer and his former Florida teammate and right-hander Jackson Kowar that they’d been wired the same way from their college days. Their approach simply centered around getting outs.

If that meant they threw their best stuff repeatedly, the results mattered infinitely more than the route taken to get there.

“Singer’s competitive edge puts him at an elite level,” Henry said. “That’s the key for me.”

Of course, being that fiery can lead to some interesting interactions.

One day about four innings into a start at Double-A in which Singer hadn’t thrown his changeup more than twice, Henry pulled aside Singer and catcher Meibrys Viloria and implored them to work the changeup into the sequencing.

The next inning started off with about 12 changeups in a row from Singer. Henry fumed, because that was not the intent of his advice — nor would using the changeup that way help Singer.

Henry “aired out” both pitcher and catcher when they got to the dugout to make his point crystal clear.

Henry chuckled in conveying the story and admitted, “The thing is, he went out there and threw those changeups and I don’t think he gave up a hit on them.”

The Royals believed Singer could’ve probably began this season at Double-A and handled the transition, but the organization decided not to rush his development and thus started him at High-A Wilmington.

Picollo indicated there will likely be spirited discussion about whether Singer begins next season back in Double-A or at Triple-A Omaha and the scoring-heavy Pacific Coast League.

Part of the decision will depend on the need for Singer to strengthen certain areas of his game, such as holding runners on base and fielding his position — as well as the continued progress of his changeup.

Other factors taken into account will include maturity, building confidence, dealing with adversity and learning against higher-level hitters, the environment he’ll be in just two years into his professional career.

“The goal of this isn’t how quickly he gets to the major leagues, it’s how prepared he is when he does get to the majors leagues,” Picollo said. “Whether or not he starts the year in Double-A or Triple-A really shouldn’t impact how quickly he get to the major leagues.

“He’ll put it together when he puts it together. We’ll know when he’s ready.”

Steve Balboni Jersey

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Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas has a great chance to break Steve Balboni‘s franchise record for home runs in a season. That is, as long as he stays healthy.
The Kansas City Royals single season home run record may well be one of the more pathetic marks in baseball. Set by Steve Balboni in 1985, the burly slugger hit 36 home runs as the Royals won the World Series. While a few players have come close, no one has surpassed Balboni’s mark, leaving the Royals as the only team without a 40 home run hitter in their history.

That could be changing this year. Third baseman Mike Moustakas already has 32 homers on the season, and seemingly has Balboni dead to rights. It would take an injury or a sudden power outage for Moustakas to keep from passing Balboni, and possibly becoming the first Royal to get that elusive 40 homers. Well…

Mike Moustakas was battling a sore knee after the fluid drained from getting hit by Bruce Rondon. Something appears to be hindering him.

It appears as though the Ghost of Steve Balboni will not go down without a fight. As Moustakas was in the lineup on Tuesday, albeit as a designated hitter, that soreness from being hit by a Bruce Rondon pitch does not appear to be serious. But, if there is something hindering the Royals slugger, Balboni Watch may bear watching for another reason.

At this point, Moustakas is the Royals best, and likely, only chance to end Balboni’s reign of terror. Salvador Perez, the only other member of the Royals with more than 20 homers, is on the disabled list with an intercostal strain. It is all up to Moustakas if the Ghost of Balboni will finally be exorcised.

Fortunately for the Kansas City Royals, Mike Moustakas’ injury does not appear to be major. But it does serve as a reminder that Steve Balboni will not go down without a fight.

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Acquiring major-league caliber pitching clearly sits atop the list of offseason priorities for the Kansas City Royals.

Constructing a staff deep with quality arms capable of consistent performance in the rotation and bullpen will be crucial to pulling the club out of the malaise of three consecutive losing seasons and back-to-back 100-loss seasons.

The rules of baseball mimic those of real estate with a slight twist. Instead of location, location, location being the mantra, it’s pitching, pitching, pitching.

Royals general manager Dayton Moore and the baseball operations staff aim to address a pitching staff that ranked near the bottom of the majors in opponent’s batting average (.273, 28th), WHIP (1.48, 29th), ERA (5.20, 27th), and opponent’s OBP (.348, 29th) and strikeouts per nine innings (7.8, 29th).

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The Royals have potential bullpen help in the former of like Jorge Lopez and Glenn Sparkman, both who’ve spent time in the starting rotation, as well as fireballer Jesse Hahn coming back from injury. Their targets in free agency will be starting pitchers, and there will be an abundance of options.

“There’s a lot of championship-caliber starters on the market,” Moore said this week at the MLB general managers’ meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona. “We’re certainly going to explore that market. I can’t sit here and tell you that we’re going to be in a position to execute anything, but we’ll explore that market.”

In recent years, the Royals have established a willingness to take fliers on veteran pitchers on low-risk short-term deals, such as Homer Bailey last offseason. They signed him to a one-year deal, knowing he’d serve as a potential trade chip late in the season.

Will they aim this offseason to sign more stop-gap type remedies or might they go after a free-agent worthy of a multi-year deal?

Moore has left the door open for either or perhaps both.

“A value-based signing like Homer Bailey, you always have room for that,” Moore said. “But we’re going to look, and we’re going to try to add a starter or two if possible.”

Other Royals takeaways from the GM meetings:

EASING IN SALVY
Multi-time All-Star and Gold Glove Award winning catcher Salvador Perez remains on schedule with his recovery from Tommy John surgery in order to be ready for spring training. He’ll work go through his usual offseason workouts in Miami with catching coach Pedro Grifol and several of the young catchers in the farm system such as Meibrys Viloria and MJ Melendez.

Don’t be surprised if the Royals give Perez more days off or get him in the lineup at designated hitter or first base early in the season as he gets re-acclimated to the routine of playing daily.

Manager Mike Matheny, Grifol and head trainer Nick Kenney will collectively manage Perez’s usage during the season.

KEEPING SOLER IN-HOUSE
American League home run champion and franchise single-season record setter Jorge Soler reportedly switched agents this past week to the same agency, Excel Sports Management, that represents Alex Gordon.

Royals star Jorge Soler has fired ACES and moved to Casey Close of Excel

— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 12, 2019
Soler can opt for arbitration this offseason, which will increase his salary significantly. He’ll still have two more seasons remaining under control with the Royals after having hit 48 homers, collected 117 RBIs, scored 95 runs and posted a slash line of .265/.354/.569 in 2019.

While Moore wouldn’t speak specifically to any negotiations future or otherwise regarding Soler, it’s clear he’d be a candidate for an extension before he hits free agency.

“Historically, we’ve always shown a willingness to sign our young players to long-term contracts, and we’ve had our share of success doing that,” Moore said. “I don’t anticipate not trying to lock up some of our young players long-term. We were successful last year with Whit Merrifield, and that proved to be beneficial not only with Whit but for us. We’ll explore those opportunities with the players who are currently on our roster.”

Dynamic shortstop Adalberto Mondesi has been rehabbing in Kansas City this offseason with the team’s physical therapist Jeff Blum. Mondesi had shoulder surgery Oct. 2, but remains on pace to be ready for opening day. All indications thus far have been encouraging.

While the Royals signed Chris Owings last season in part as insurance at shortstop in case Mondesi’s injury history cropped up again, they feel they’re better suited with internal candidates to cover the position if he misses extended time next season. Nicky Lopez and Humberto Arteaga give the club options to handle the position defensively.

The Royals may look this offseason for minor-league depth at the spot.

STILL BELIEVERS IN O’HEARN
First baseman Ryan O’Hearn has had wildly variant results in the majors since late in the 2018 season. Through his first 49 games, the left-handed hitting slugger racked up 34 RBIs, tied for the second-most in franchise history to start a career. He also had 26 extra-base hits, including 13 home runs, in that span.

This past season, he struggled to the point that the club demoted him to Triple-A mid-season. He returned to the majors in late July. Overall, he batted .195 with a .281 on-base percentage and a .369 slugging percentage to go with 14 home runs in 105 games.

He showed signs of improvement in the season’s final month when he slashed .250/.283/.536. The Royals are not ready to give up on him being a contributor to the big-league club, and have seen him make strides defensively.

“I believe in him as a hitter,” Moore said. “He works too hard. He’s too smart. He’s extremely competitive. There’s no reason for us not to believe in Ryan O’Hearn.”

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The Kansas City Royals missed their All-Star catcher during the 2019 season, but how much of a difference would he have made offensively?
It was a strange year for Kansas City Royals fans with the Gold Glove backstop out for the season. Salvador Perez is highly regarded amongst most Royals fans and he is the heart and soul of the team throughout these seasons where there isn’t a lot to be excited about.

Perez brings a high level of defense and consistent batting to the team whenever he is healthy, and the Royals knew that having to play a year without him could be bad. They quickly went on the search for a free agent catcher, understanding the options they currently had were still young and needed some time.

The Royals quickly found a replacement in Martin Maldonado. Maldonado had nowhere near the offensive ability of Perez, but his defense was on par, having won a Gold Glove in 2017. Maldonado also brought a veteran presence to the young Royals team, helping the young pitchers find their way on the mound.

As Maldonado was not with the Royals for the entire year, the team saw multiple catchers, working through Cam Gallagher, Meibrys Viloria, and Nick Dini. While all of these catchers have great defensive abilities, they all seem to struggle when they are at the plate to bat.

Understanding this, the thought came to mind about what the team really missed during the 2019 season with Perez sidelined. In comparing the stats of the 4 catchers the team used to Perez’s 2018 stats, there are some interesting differences that make one wonder if the Royals would have done better if Salvy were available even half the year.

RELATED STORY: Candidates to hit 20 home runs in 2020
Defensively, there is little to talk about. Perez had an outstanding year in 2018 with a 1.000 fielding percentage and caught stealing percentage of 48. The 4 pitchers for 2019 saw a combined fielding percentage of .995 and a caught stealing percentage of around 34. While there is an obvious difference, Perez’s 2018 numbers were some of the best of his career, and it’s likely he could have dropped a little in 2019.

The difference is found in the offensive stats. Again, Perez’s 2018 stats will be used for offense. While there is always the chance he could have had a bad year, he is fairly consistent with his numbers, and as 2018 was a down year for him in some areas, it will work for this comparison.

Salvador Perez 2018 offensive stats:

Games: 129; Plate Appearances: 544; Runs: 52; Hits: 120; 2B: 23; HR: 27; RBIs: 80; Slash: .235/.274/.439

Combined 2019 stats of Maldonado (during time with the Royals), Gallagher, Viloria, and Dini.

Games: 180; Plate Appearances: 617; Runs: 58; Hits: 123; 2B: 32; HR: 12; RBIs: 50; Slash: .218/.283/.345

These offensive stat lines show some interesting points. It’s likely that when the Royals were looking for someone to replace Salvy as the full-time catcher, they weren’t as focused on someone to replace him offensively, but instead someone that could hold the same caliber defense.

There are a lot of similar numbers in the offensive lines above, runs, hits, and doubles all come in a little higher for the 2019 catchers, while home runs, RBI’s and the BA and slugging percentages are better for Salvy. The problem with this is that Salvy’s numbers are over the course of 129 games, while the others are for the entire year.

In all of the categories where the 2019 catchers “beat” Salvy’s numbers, they only did so by a small margin, but they also had 33 more games to do so. Salvy’s 30 extra RBI’s could have made all the difference in some of those close games the Royals had in 2019 and could have kept them out of the 100 loss club.

Of course, all of this is speculation. There is no way to know if Salvy would have put up the same numbers in 2019, but the fact remains that 4 combined catchers for the entire 2019 season were unable to match Salvy’s numbers over 75-80 percent of the 2018 season.

The argument could be made that these catchers are primarily young and still trying to find their way at the major league level and to expect them to replace a multi-year All-Star, Silver Slugger and Gold Glove winner is ridiculous, and it’s definitely true.

The purpose of this comparison, though, is to point out what the Royals really missed in 2019 with Salvy on the side. The Royals offense showed in 2019 they are on the upside of the rebuild and have made great strides to improve. Having Salvy in the lineup, though, could have pushed them over the top.

Speculation can be a dangerous hole to dive into but for “Royals Optimists,” it’s a constant. It will be interesting to see how the Royals offense changes with Perez in the lineup in 2018. If he can continue to produce, the Royals could potentially have a power hitter every other batter and strike fear into pitchers everywhere.

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Richard Lovelady has the talent to be a successful big-league reliever. The Kansas City Royals need to find a way to make that happen.
We recently learned that the Kansas City Royals’ young left-handed reliever, Richard Lovelady, has undergone successful knee surgery and will be out 6-8 weeks. He should be more than ready by the time Spring Training rolls around. And, assuming he is, we need to use him more this year.

I know it may seem counterintuitive to claim we need to pitch a young man more when his WHIP was 1.9 and he gave up enough hits (more than 13 per 9 innings) to make Glenn Sparkman or Jorge Lopez blush. But I believe there are reasons to trust Richard Lovelady to perform at a high level with more of an opportunity.

Last season Lovelady spent his age 23 season traveling back and forth between Omaha and Kansas City. His numbers in Omaha were very good. His numbers in Kansas City were very bad.

Over 26 innings in Omaha, Lovelady struck out 10 per 9 innings. He had 4 strikeouts for every walk issued. And his ERA was right at 3. Very impressive in the Pacific Coast League. In Kansas City, over 20 innings, he walked 3.6 per 9 innings. He barely struck out 2 for every walk he issued.

Lovelady will need to pitch better in the big leagues, but 20 innings is still a very small sample size. And some of his peripheral numbers seem to suggest he will do better. His BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) was .412. That is a huge number when the average is usually closer to .300. Even though his ERA was a miserable 7.65 for the Kansas City Royals, his FIP was 4.16. That is a rather huge gap between the likely outcome and the actual outcome. Again, that seems to suggest some degree of bad luck.

It is hard to remember now, but Greg Holland had a similar introduction to the big leagues. At age 24, Holland was called up and pitched a total of 18.2 innings. His ERA was nearly 7 but his FIP was right at 4. And even though he struck out guys that season he also gave up too many hits and his BABIP was through the roof. Sound familiar?

There will probably need to be some adjustments for Lovelady next year. He must walk fewer guys and he needs a few more strikeouts. He may have to throw even fewer sinkers and work almost exclusively with his fastball and slider. Both of those pitches look big-league ready. With our bullpen issues, he should also merit a longer look than 20 innings.

Lovelady was near dominant for his first few years as he worked his way through the minors. He may never be that dominant in the big leagues. But his stuff is there. He will still only be 24 this season. These are the kinds of bullpen arms that the Kansas City Royals must be able to develop if we ever want to have a bullpen that can, again, be counted on to close out games.

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A midseason trade brought the Kansas City Royals a veteran and versatile player who helped them to the 2015 World Series title. Four years later, he’s a free agent again. Should the club pursue him?
After a 30-season absence from the postseason, the Kansas City Royals came agonizingly close to winning the World Series in 2014. Some nine months later, determined to return to and win the Series, the Royals beat out other trade deadline suitors to land veteran infielder-outfielder Ben Zobrist for the stretch run. Zobrist, an instant fan and clubhouse favorite and vital component in the club’s march to a World Championship, so enjoyed the Kansas City experience that his daughter, born five days after the Series, was given “Royal” as her middle name.

But the end of the 2015 season meant free agency for Zobrist; although the Royals clearly wanted him back, the mutual admiration society that was the Kansas City-Zobrist relationship wasn’t quite enough to overcome the Chicago Cubs’ four-year, $56 million offer and a reunion with manager Joe Maddon, for whom he played at Tampa Bay. Zobrist left to help the Cubs to their first World Series appearance since 1945 and first championship since 1908.

Now a free agent once again, Zobrist finds himself on the cusp of his age-39 season. He will be in demand–even at his age, Zobrist can still play, can still handle the bat, and can still play almost anywhere on the diamond. But after a 2019 season interrupted by a leave of absence for personal reasons, apparently spurred by divorce proceedings, Zobrist’s future is undetermined even after a late-season return to the game. He isn’t certain he will play again and may retire. Until he decides, though, interested clubs won’t close the book on him.

Royals General Manager Dayton Moore keeps his free-agent interests close to the vest, so it isn’t surprising that Zobrist’s name isn’t drawing much attention around Kansas City–it isn’t likely Moore would confirm or deny interest in Zobrist this early in the free-agent process, especially when the club doesn’t know Alex Gordon‘s intentions and needs pitching more than anything.

But the notion of Zobrist returning to KC shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. His acquisition from the A’s was widely lauded and his contribution to the 2015 championship season matched the expectations that motivated the club to give up a top pitching prospect, Sean Manaea, to get him. At age 34, Zobrist slashed .284/.364/.453 with seven homers in 59 games, and he hit .333 in the ALDS and .320 in the ALCS. He dipped to .261 in the World Series, but played in all five games and scored the Royals’ final run in the championship-clinching game against the Mets.

A solid and versatile player even before joining the Royals–he has regularly played left and right fields, first and second base, and shortstop–and despite joining the Cubs in his age-35 season, Zobrist flourished in the Windy City. He hit it off immediately with his teammates and fans; in his first Cubs season, he slugged 18 home runs–the third-highest number of his career–drove in 76 runs, had 31 doubles, and slashed .272./.386/.446. Although he hit only .232 in 2017, he rebounded to .305 in 2018.

Zobrist hit an acceptable .260 in 2019, but it was a campaign not easily susceptible to meaningful evaluation. He took his leave of absence in May and returned in September; the lengthy absence reduced his season to 47 games and just 176 plate appearances. But Zobrist and Maddon believe he can still play and perform.

If Zobrist and his former manager are right–and his consistency and durability over 14 big league seasons suggest they just might be–the former Royal favorite could be a valuable addition to any club searching for a versatile, reliable and popular veteran. A return to the Cubs is certainly possible.

But the Royals may not be the best fit for Zobrist. He won’t come cheap, and owner-in-waiting John Sherman‘s financial priorities won’t be known until he officially takes the club’s reins. While Zobrist’s physical abilities aren’t in question, his age (39 in May) may limit playing time on a club increasingly committing itself to younger players. And the presence of Whit Merrifield, another premier player capable of playing several positions well and who, like Zobrist, probably does his best work at second base, would further limit Zobrist’s playing time.

Ben Zobrist helped bring the World Series trophy back to Kansas City in 2015. Although his stay was short, he was immensely popular with fans and teammates alike. Should he delay retirement for another year, his talent and versatility will pay dividends for some team. But that team probably isn’t the Kansas City Royals: he may command too high a salary, the club is relying more on younger players, and the presence of Whit Merrifield in a role otherwise suited for Zobrist makes the veteran free agent an unlikely choice for a return to Kansas City.