Five recent Royals seasons that failed to live up to expectations

03/30/2014 9:50 AM

03/30/2014 9:50 AM

2013

• REASON FOR HOPE:

With Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer and Salvy Perez on the cusp of breaking through, the Royals traded for starter James Shields to bolster the rotation, and declared it was time to start being a winning club.

• REASON TO MOPE:

A 4-19 record in the month of May saw the Royals sink from the top of the AL Central to last place. While a second-half surge kept the Royals in the playoff race, the terrible May was too much to overcome.

2012

• REASON FOR HOPE:

The Royals were 15-10 in September 2011, so there was a feeling that maybe the team had turned the corner. An expected infusion of minor-league talent only raised expectations, as did the acquisition of left-hander Jonathan Sanchez.

• REASON TO MOPE:

A 3-2 start to the season dissolved quickly. The Royals ended the season-opening road trip by losing in 12 innings after Jonathan Broxton hit consecutive Oakland batters, forcing in the winning run. The Royals returned home and lost 10 straight at The K. Sanchez and his grotesque 7.76 ERA were traded by midseason.

2009

• REASON FOR HOPE:

An 18-8 record in the previous September kindled hopes, particularly after the Royals acquired outfielder Coco Crisp and reliever Kyle Farnsworth. Billy Butler and Alex Gordon were entering their third seasons and seemed primed to break out.

• REASON TO MOPE:

The Royals led the AL Central with an 18-11 record on May 7, but lost 20 of their next 25 and finished with 97 losses. Crisp had season-ending shoulder surgery in June and Farnsworth had a 4.58 ERA. The lone bright spot? Zack Greinke won the Cy Young award.

2004

• REASON FOR HOPE:

In 2003, the Royals finished with a winning record for the first time in a decade, staying in the AL Central race until the final month of the season. All that seemed to be missing was a middle-of-the order bat to pair with Carlos Beltran, and the team signed Juan Gonzalez.

• REASON TO MOPE:

Injury-plagued Gonzalez hit just five home runs in 33 games; Calvin Pickering, who was being hailed as another David Ortiz by sabermetricians, hit .246; and Beltran was traded by midseason. Manager Tony Peña’s rallying cry was “Together We Can!” Well, together they lost 104 games.

2001

• REASON FOR HOPE:

Remarkably, the Royals won 77 games in 2000 despite blowing 30 saves. The Royals gave up outfielder Johnny Damon to acquire closer Roberto Hernandez, who saved 28 games, and that seemed like a key piece of the puzzle.

• REASON TO MOPE:

The Royals finished 10th in runs scored and had a rotation headed by Jeff Suppan (4.37 ERA) and Chad Durbin (4.93). They won just 65 games and manager Tony Muser lamented: “Chewing on cookies and drinking milk and praying is not going to get it done,” and “I’d like to see ’em go out and pound tequila rather than cookies and milk.”

| Pete Grathoff, pgrathoff@kcstar.com

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