Kansas City Royals off to fast start; feeling confident in core group of players

Apr. 18—In the offseason, the Kansas City Royals mentioned they wanted to compete in 2024, which referred to winning games late in the year, energizing an entire city, and look to be in the running for the American League crown.

Of course, fans may have rolled their eyes when hearing this, as the team was coming off a 106 loss season, but the royals were investing in Vinnie Pasquantino, Bobby Witt Jr. and pitching depth.

With 19 games now officially in the books on the young season, every single one of those investments has thus been good ones, and while early, the Royals have a real shot to win the AL Central.

"We're very happy with the results, but more so the process that we're going through," general manager J.J. Picollo said. "The fact that the guys are competing at a very high level, it's a great atmosphere in the clubhouse and they're playing hard every night."

This year's group has posted 12 quality wins, scoring 92 runs while hitting 23 home runs, ranking inside the top five in the American League.

The lineup also has a .408 team slugging percentage, and have scored 10 or more runs five times while piling up 257 total bases.

"Become the expectation, what they're doing is ridiculous," Vinnie Pasquantino said.

And, you know, It's an honor to, you know, play behind them every single night. Like I just said, it's becoming an expectation for those guys to just be ridiculous every night."

One player playing a pivotal role this season is Bobby Witt Jr., who the Royals locked up to an 11-year extension that could turn into a 14-year deal if all three club options get exercised.

Through 19 games, Witt has 13 extra-base hits and an AL-leading 18 runs scored, while batting at 32%.

"You just got to see him play in person, he does something every single night," J.J. Picollo said. "Just the humility that he brings to the table as well. The talent is obviously off the charts, but it's nice to see him get off to a good start this year and it's motivating to us."

Another important player to the Royals is Salvador Pérez, who returned from a mild groin strain to hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the Royals latest series against the Chicago White Sox.

Thankful to be back on the diamond, Pérez had nothing but praise for the training staff.

"The training, they do a pretty good job, I appreciate these guys, what they do for me, you know, a lot of treatment and needles, everything you know," Pérez said. "They are doing their best to get me back in the lineup."

For this hot start to continue, Kansas City's offense and pitching staff must keep clicking. The starting-pitching duo of Seth Lugo and Brady Singer rank among baseball's current leaders in earned-run average, and the team knew they had talent all along.

"We're a good team, that's what it is. It's not a bounce back, we're just a good team," Pasquantino said. "We're not going to fall into these, you know, these mental traps of, 'oh, we went on a streak of seven in a row or we lost this many in a row,' we're a good team. We expect to come out every night and compete and that's about it."

Calvin Silvers can be reached at