Expect The Unexpected: Kansas City Players Not Shocked By Hot Start

The Royals have been one of the hottest teams in baseball early, not to their surprise.
Jun 2, 2024; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Royals second baseman Nick Loftin (12) is doused by shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. (7) after hitting a walk off one-run sacrifice against the San Diego Padres in the ninth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 2, 2024; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Royals second baseman Nick Loftin (12) is doused by shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. (7) after hitting a walk off one-run sacrifice against the San Diego Padres in the ninth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports / Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
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The 2024 Kansas City Royals are only one game behind the pace of the 2015 Royals that went on to win the World Series.

That team was coming off a World Series appearance and retained many of their star players. This Royals team is coming-off of an abysmal 56-win season, landing them the second lowest mark of all teams last year. They were widely selected to repeat as one of the worst teams in the league heading into this season, but despite everyone's expectations the Royals have been playing some phenomenal baseball. Kansas City's hot start has taken the league by storm, surprising everyone through their first 68 games. Everyone besides the Royals that is.

It starts with the pitching. The biggest change made from last year to contribute to the success of the Royals this season is the extensive overhaul of the pitching rotation. Additions of players like Seth Lugo, Michael Wacha, and even last year's deadline acquisition of Cole Ragans have shot the Royals into the position to be competitive on any given day regardless of who takes the mound. Kansas City didn't have the selling points of successful teams in big markets, but as much as everyone was surprised at the Royal's success, Lugo saw it coming.

"With the young guys this team had last year and are coming back this year, you know, Bobby, and Vinnie, and Maikel... you just knew the talent was there," Lugo said when asked about the team's hot start compared to last season, "It's just how are you gonna put it together. I knew we were definitely capable of winning when I signed here, but it was just a matter of getting the young guys to know where they are"

Lugo perfectly alluded to the second half of the equation that has allowed the Royals to gain the success they've seen this season, the young stars realizing their ability. When you take a look at the young talent on the Royals this year compared to last year you will quickly realize why the Royals have been able to go on the run they have to start this season. The improvements from players like Bobby Witt Jr, Vinnie Pasquantino, Maikel Garcia, and even young pitchers like Ragans or Marsh, have given the Royals one of the best young cores in the league.

"Some of it is what we expected, I think some of it has been a good surprise. Within the clubhouse we have a lot of confidence in what we're doing, and we've seen some of that come into play" said Vinnie Pasquantino when asked about the team's turnaround "I think there are a few more veteran guys that are kind of setting the tone with what we're trying to be. That's probably the biggest difference."

Pasquantino is right in identifying the third and final piece of the puzzle in the Royals turnaround this season. The addition and resurgence of veteran talent and voices for the Royals. Salvador Perez has had one of the best years in his career up to this point, joining his teammate Witt Jr for top ten in the league for on-base percentage. Pair that with the best year of Seth Lugo's career so far and the veteran talent of players like Garrett Hampson, Hunter Renfroe, Adam Frazier, and more, and you have a recipe for success. There has been an atmosphere of excitement among all players about this Royals team, new faces or old.

"I think everybody, all the new guys coming in here, were excited about the talent [the Royals] have had." said Garrett Hampson when asked about his offseason decision to come to Kansas City "Everybody knows the players that we have over here and it was exciting. I was really excited coming over here and being a part of that upswing."

The Royals have surprised everyone on a national stage, but to the players involved, the hints that this team could be successful were there all along.


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Austin Bidwell

AUSTIN BIDWELL

Austin is a sports journalist from Kansas City, Mo. He is a freshman at The University of Missouri-Columbia, pursuing a degree in sports journalism.