HomeMLBKansas City Royals Season Preview 2024 Odds and Predictions

    Kansas City Royals Season Preview 2024 Odds and Predictions

    Adam Burke's season preview for the Kansas City Royals as part of the VSiN 2024 MLB Betting Guide.

    -

    Kansas City Royals 2024 preview

    Flags fly forever. That’s what Kansas City Royals fans have been telling themselves for a long time. Since winning the 2015 World Series, the team has not had a winning season. Nada. Not one. They went 81-81 with the Fall Classic hangover and 80-82 the year after that, but it has been an ugly, long, and painful set of seasons since.

    The Royals have lost over 100 games three times, including 106 last season, which tied the franchise high set back in 2005. The other seasons featured 97, 88, and 34 losses, as the COVID year team was on pace for 70-92 in a full season, though both Central Divisions have been behind the other four divisions for the last few seasons.

     

    Top MLB Resources:

    Kansas City should comfortably avoid 100 losses this season and there are finally some new building blocks, including Bobby Witt Jr. and Cole Ragans. Unfortunately, high-end prospect talent isn’t waiting in the wings. The Royals don’t have any top-100 prospects per FanGraphs and years of substandard player development have led to this point.

    This is a pretty low-ceiling team for 2024, but seasons like this aren’t measured in the standings. What you want to see as a Royals fan is individual development in the minors and continued growth from a lineup of guys aging into their primes.

    2024 Kansas City Royals Odds

    (odds from DraftKings as of Mar. 7)

    World Series: +13000

    AL Pennant: +7000

    AL Central: +850

    Win Total: 73.5 (-120/+100)

    Make Playoffs: Yes +425 / No -550

    Kansas City Royals Preview: Offense

    Before diving into the Royals offense, it is worth noting that this group finished -10 wins in BaseRuns, posting a 56-106 record that should’ve been more like 66-96. It doesn’t ease the sting a whole lot, but the Royals had an 83 wRC+ with men in scoring position and an 87 wRC+ overall, so they had more success with the bases empty than they did in higher-leverage situations.

    Some of that is a commentary on the offensive talent, but some of that can also be attributed to some negative variance. It was even worse on the pitching side, which I’ll get to shortly.

    Some part-time players and the Royals’ budding superstar carried the load on offense. Witt posted a 115 wRC+ and hit 30 homers with 49 steals, accumulating 5.7 fWAR. As a group, KC’s position players posted 11.3 fWAR, so Witt accounted for basically half of that on his own. His breakout season included a better feel for the strike zone and a big jump in contact quality. I have no reason to believe he tails off, as he’s been a top prospect for a long time.

    The other guys to post a wRC+ above league average were Nelson Velazquez (140 PA), Nick Loftin (68 PA), Freddy Fermin (235 PA), Dairon Blanco (138 PA – had 24 SB in just 69 games), Edward Olivares (385 PA), and Vinnie Pasquantino (260 PA). Velazquez was a midseason trade addition from the Cubs in the Jose Cuas deal, so he’ll take on a bigger role this season. Fermin got some more reps with Salvador Perez playing some more first base. Blanco will turn 31 soon and has torn up Triple-A pitching the last two seasons. Olivares is now a Pirate. Not like the eyepatch-wearing, seafaring kind, but one who plays in Pittsburgh.

    The guys to keep in mind for the future are Pasquantino and Loftin. Loftin is probably the top prospect in the org now that other guys have graduated to the big leagues. He has a good contact tool and is a versatile player who will probably play a super-utility role in 2024. I’m not sure he’ll be a huge contributor, but athletic dudes are finding success in the big leagues and he’s an athletic dude.

    Pasquantino is a dude that can rake. He hit at every level in the minors and posted a 136 wRC+ in 2022 over 298 MLB plate appearances, but suffered a shoulder injury in 2023 that eventually wiped out his season. He has great feel for contact and the strike zone, plus there is some power potential in his big frame. I am inherently skeptical of guys who have had major shoulder issues when it comes to driving the ball, but he’s a smart hitter who has a lot of doubles power with a line drive approach.

    Beyond Pasquantino and Witt, though, upside is hard to find. The Royals hit a lot of “empty homers”, in that they don’t walk much and have a lot of low batting average guys, so the power production isn’t as useful as it could be otherwise. Sure, a guaranteed run is great, but 108 of KC’s 163 homers were solo shots.

    Kansas City Royals Preview: Pitching

    You don’t target a player in trade negotiations that you don’t like, but even the Royals would have to admit behind closed doors that they had no idea Cole Ragans would dominate the way that he did. There was really no indication that he would. He had some nice minor league stops and made his MLB debut at 24, but his nine MLB data points in 2022 were forgettable and his seven Triple-A starts in 2023 were nothing to truly write home about.

    He was used in 17 games as a reliever by the Rangers, who shipped him off in the Aroldis Chapman trade. All Ragans did in 12 starts for the Royals was post a 2.64 ERA with a 2.49 FIP and a 31.1% K% in 71.2 innings of work. His 2.4 fWAR easily led the ballclub. Not only did he excel in the K% department, but he had magnificent contact management numbers and sustained his huge velo spike. Big things will be expected of him and the hype train is moving at light speed down the tracks after sitting 98-99 in Spring Training.

    What transpires on days when Ragans doesn’t pitch will define how the Royals season plays out. With very limited homegrown arms due to several player development failures and injuries, the Royals had to go out and buy some innings. To do that, they picked up 32-year-old Michael Wacha and 34-year-old Seth Lugo.

    I actually like both guys, as Wacha owns a career 3.96 ERA with a 4.05 FIP in nearly 1,300 MLB innings and Lugo, who has been shuffled between the bullpen and rotation in his career, has a 3.50 ERA and a 3.68 FIP in 641 MLB frames. As a starter, specifically, Lugo has a 4.01 ERA in 341 innings. By no means do I expect miracles from these guys, but they are competent, proven Major Leaguers. 

    The Royals used 23 different starting pitchers last season and the only guys that made double-digit starts were Ragans (12), Zack Greinke (27), Brady Singer (29), and Jordan Lyles (31). Ragans obviously shined, but Greinke had a 5.06 ERA with a 4.74 FIP, Singer had a 5.52 ERA with a 4.29 FIP, and Lyles had a 6.28 ERA with a 5.62 FIP and the Royals lost each of his first 15 starts and 18 of 19.

    For those thinking that the Lugo and Wacha deals are the Royals simply buying prospects in a Trade Deadline deal, think again. Wacha was signed for two years at $16M per and Lugo was signed for three years at $15M per. The Royals recognized their shortcomings with developing pitching talent and these are needed innings. They also hope Kyle Wright can return from injury, as he’s just a season removed from a 3.19 ERA and a 3.58 FIP in 180.1 innings with the Braves.

    Singer is a guy that could get dealt, as he hits Arb-3 for next season and is a Super Two guy, so Arb-4 will come for the 2026 season after the Royals manipulated his service time at the start of the 2022 season. He’s actually an intriguing guy for me this season, but more on him later.

    The Royals finished 29th in LOB% last season at 67.8%, better than only the Rockies. That aforementioned gap between their actual record and BaseRuns record is directly tied to this. The craziest part is that this team was fourth in Outs Above Average defensively per Statcast. Usually you see a big discrepancy like that with bad defensive teams. This was about Royals pitchers not being able to get out of trouble and also an indictment of the low strikeout rates across the roster.

    The bullpen was 29th in ERA and 26th in FIP and is a clear weakness on the ballclub once again. Nobody in the pen projects to have an ERA under 4, as this is an area where the Royals will hope to strike lightning and make some trades in July with rental players.

    Kansas City Royals Player to Watch

    SP Brady Singer

    A lot of people are likely to be out on Singer this season. I am not. Singer’s revamped arsenal will feature more four-seamers and sweepers, which is like a variation of a slider. Last season, Singer was awful, posting a 5.80 ERA in the first half and a 5.12 in the second half while dealing with a notable loss of velocity. His Hard Hit% skyrocketed from 40.9% to 48.4%. As primarily a two-pitch pitcher, avoiding hard contact is difficult, but a big drop in K% exacerbated by all the hard contact and a .329 BABIP led to career-worst numbers.

    I’m not saying a repeat of his 2022 season with a 3.23 ERA and a 3.58 FIP is what we should expect, but I think Singer will be a lot better and it seems like several Royals have either increased their velo or added new pitches under Royals pitching coach Brian Sweeney, who was formerly the bullpen coach for the Guardians. We know what they’ve done with pitching over the years.

    Kansas City Royals Season Win Total Odds & Prediction

    A large improvement has already been baked into the Royals win total line this season. Between the BaseRuns and Pythagorean Win-Loss indicators and the general increase of talent on the roster, the market is already pricing this team for more than a 15-win upgrade. That doesn’t really leave a lot of line equity on any sort of season-long wager.

    I do agree that the Royals will be improved. Their starting pitching depth is noticeable and the offense should make a few strides as well. But, all of that is already priced in, so I don’t see a worthwhile bet here. I do think that the Royals could be good enough to go over this, but I’m already pretty optimistic on both the Guardians and Tigers.

    While the Royals should look a lot better, remember that they’ll only face the White Sox 13 times instead of 19 with the reimagined schedule and I still don’t think this team is on par with most of the rest of the AL. With that, I lean Under, simply because it’s a big leap, but this will absolutely be a more competitive team.

    Lean: Under 73.5

    Get all of our preseason coverage in the 2024 MLB Betting Guide.

    Adam Burke
    Adam Burke
    Adam Burke is the Managing Editor of VSiN.com and has spent well over a decade in the sports betting content creation space. He has been with VSiN since 2021 and covers a wide range of sports, along with hosting the VSiN Daily Baseball Bets podcast.

    Must Read

    2024 NFL Mock Draft 1.0 and Betting Picks from Matt Youmans

    0
    2024 NFL Mock Draft and Best Bets JJ McCarthy is not the top name on the marquee to promote the NFL draft, yet he’s one...