Three Takeaways From the Royals’ Rough April Record

The Royals lost another brutal one on Sunday to the Twins, as Brady Singer spotted Minnesota an eight-run lead en route to an 8-4 loss in the series finale at Target Field.

Kansas City’s loss to the Twins today brought their record to 7-22 for the month of April. As of Sunday, the Royals sit in last place in the AL Central, 10 games behind the division-leading Twins. They also have the second-worst record in baseball, only one game better than the Oakland Athletics, who are currently 6-23 and sit at the bottom of a difficult AL West.

Safe to say, it’s been a rough month for the Royals and Royals fans in April. While the postseason was a far-fetched idea this offseason, I do not think any Royals fans foresaw a brutal April that may have been one of the worst months record-wise in franchise history.

With that said, is there any room for hope for the remainder of the 2023 season? Or should Royals fans buckle up for what could be one of the worst seasons in Royals history record-wise (which they set not too long ago in 2018 with a 58-104 mark)?

Here are three initial takeaways from what was a difficult month of Royals baseball to watch and follow.

Expect a Lot of 40-Man Roster Moves Next Month, Especially With Hitters

Even though it is hard to focus on the positives, it does feel like the Royals experienced a lot of bad luck during the first month of play.

Granted, I am not excusing the Royals’ poor play by any means. This is going to be a team with a losing record by the end of the 2023 season. That said, are they going to be a 7-22-esque team for the remaining months of the season? I am not so sure.

For one, the Royals have a run differential of -64, as of Sunday. That’s slightly better than the 8-21 White Sox (-65) and considerably better than the A’s (-117). It’s also not that far off from the Colorado Rockies, who have a 9-20 record and a -54 run differential. The Royals probably should be a team with eight to nine wins based on the expected W-L record rather than seven, and it will be interesting to see if the Royals’ luck could change starting in May.

Nonetheless, even if the Royals can get a little luckier on the field, the fact of the matter is this roster needs major changes, even to see minor improvement on the field.

JJ Picollo won’t make wholesale changes overnight. However, Picollo has promised to be a more “transactional” general manager than his predecessor Dayton Moore. In order for him to live up to that reputation, some moves will need to happen as soon as next month.

Honestly, the offense is in dire need of a “jolt” and it’s unlikely that Franmil Reyes and Jackie Bradley, Jr. are going to provide that anytime soon. While Reyes does have two home runs, he’s hitting .186 with a .519 OPS and has 24 strikeouts to only four walks in 59 at-bats. As for Bradley, he’s hitting .159 with a .450 OPS in 44 at-bats. Even though he provides solid defense in center field, it’s not enough to make up for his poor hitting off the bench.

It would not be surprising to see both Bradley and Reyes with other organizations before the end of May or the start of June, especially once Drew Waters returns from the IL. It sounds like Waters will be starting a rehab assignment soon in Omaha, which is a positive sign that his return to Kansas City is coming soon.

The Royals’ call-up of Nick Pratto has had positive results, as Pratto is hitting .368 in 19 at-bats this season (though he does have 10 strikeouts). It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Royals make similar call-ups soon, with Samad Taylor being a prime candidate.

In 98 at-bats, Taylor is hitting .337 with a .884 OPS with the Storm Chasers this April. He also has two home runs and 12 stolen bases and can play multiple positions in both the infield and outfield.

In addition to Taylor, Maikel Garcia could also be an option, though a cold recent stretch could keep him in Omaha a bit longer. As for Logan Porter, he’s been hitting well, but he’s not on the 40-man roster, so he may not be a call-up until more major moves are made after the All-Star Break.

Also don’t be surprised to see catcher Freddy Fermin get another call-up, especially if MJ Melendez’s lower back issue continues to be a problem. Fermin is not a high-upside player, but he provides solid defense behind the plate, and he has shown some hitting ability in Omaha as well.

The Royals may not make any major trades over the next couple of months.

That said, it is likely that we will see a lot of movement among the 40-man roster, with some call-ups from Omaha looming in the next couple of weeks, which could hopefully shake things up on a hitting end.

Do Michael Massey and Brady Singer Need Resets in Omaha?

It was expected that Massey and Singer were going to be key pieces to the Royals’ rebuilding process in 2023. Unfortunately, both have gotten off to brutal starts.

In 78 plate appearances this season, Massey is hitting .167 with a .352 OPS. He also has an incredible 31 strikeouts to only one walk, which came yesterday on a pitch-clock violation by Twins closer Jhoan Duran.

Massey has some batted-ball potential, as he is sporting an average exit velocity of 88.6 MPH and a hard-hit rate of 42.9 percent, according to Fangraphs. His hard-hit rate is better than the rates of Salvador Perez, Bobby Witt, Jr., Matt Duffy, and even Edward Olivares, as of Sunday.

Nonetheless, it’s going to be difficult for Massey to succeed at the Major League level with a strikeout rate of 38.1 percent and a paltry walk rate of 1.2 percent.

It may be time for Massey to spend a month or two in Omaha to not just work on his plate discipline, but also boost his confidence as well. It’s obvious that he’s pressing at the plate, and it’s only going to get worse with more 0-for performances at the Major League level.

As for Singer, an already rough 2023 season got worse after a brutal outing on Sunday against the Twins.

In six starts and 29.2 IP, Singer is sporting an 8.49 ERA and 1.52 WHIP. His line for the year includes 36 hits and six home runs allowed, with the latter being the third-worst mark for Royals starters this year behind Jordan Lyles (nine) and Zack Greinke (seven).

When Singer’s command of his pitches is on, especially his slider, he can be one of the nastier pitchers in Major League Baseball.

On the other hand, his command has not been consistent or sharp this year, and that was fully evident in his most recent start against the Twins. Here’s a look at the line Singer produced on Sunday:

It appears that Singer is working on tweaking his slider in order to generate better command on the pitch. It worked okay in his first start, but not so much today.

Thus, it may be worthwhile for Singer to work on this revamped slider, and perhaps a new “sweeper” which debuted today, in Omaha against Triple-A competition. Singer could also work on continuing the development of his changeup with the Storm Chasers, which has seen an uptick in usage from a year ago but hasn’t been a consistently effective pitch at the Major League level.

Last year, the Royals sent Singer to Omaha for a handful of starts, and he came back to Kansas City as a rejuvenated and improved pitcher at the Major League level.

Perhaps going back to Omaha could help Singer “restart” his pitching mindset and work on a couple of minor adjustments to his pitch mix and shape, which could have major benefits down the road for the Royals.

Hunter Dozier’s Tenure With Royals Needs to Be Over Soon

I don’t have anything personal against Dozier as a person or even a ballplayer.

While his contract hasn’t worked out, it isn’t nearly as “bad” as many frustrated Royals fans make it out to be. In addition, he is widely liked and respected by his teammates, and it’s easy to root for him, even amidst his struggles over the past few seasons.

But let’s face it, his tenure with the Royals is not only a hotbed issue among Royals fans, but he is also once again failing to do much at the plate this season.

In 62 at-bats, Dozier is hitting .161 with a .438 OPS. He has accumulated 23 strikeouts to only four walks, and he also only has one home run and five RBI. That isn’t ideal for a middle-of-the-order hitter who was expected to be a run-producer when the Royals signed him to an extension prior to the 2021 season.

In addition to his meager numbers, Dozier’s zone chart is also a depressing picture. The 31-year-old former Royals first-round pick has struggled against a lot of pitches on the edges of the strike zone, which can be seen in the wOBA zone chart below, via Baseball Savant.

I am not going to be a dead horse with Dozier, especially since many Royals fans do it on a regular basis on Twitter, Reddit, and other forms of social media.

Nonetheless, it seems like Dozier needs a reset with his MLB career, and I am not sure he’s going to get that with the Royals. There’s just a long history of frustration with Dozier since 2021, and no matter what Dozier does at this point, I don’t think he’ll ever get in the good graces again with Royals fans.

And the Royals could use his roster spot and the third base position to give someone in Omaha like Taylor or Garcia regular playing time.

Would Taylor or Garcia be huge upgrades at the hot corner than Dozier or the Royals’ other options (like Nicky Lopez or Matt Duffy)? That’s hard to say, but bringing either player up would continue to follow that “youth movement” blueprint that Picollo and the Royals have tried to implement this year to various levels of success.

I don’t know what Dozier’s MLB outlook will be, even if he leaves Kansas City. His swing has too many flaws and holes to be consistently successful, and while he has natural speed, he struggles at nearly every position he has played defensively in his MLB career.

That being said, it would be better for Dozier and the Royals to finally separate just so both parties can start afresh.

Doing so sooner in the month of May rather than later would be a win-win for not just Dozier, but Picollo and the Royals as well.

Photo Credit: Duane Burleson/Getty Images


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