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As we enter the new 2021 MLB season, the Kansas City Royals will begin with a feeling of familiarity. Actually, almost a sense of ‘déjà vu.’ BetMGM’s betting line has the Royals’ projected record at 73-89 (.450 win %), after finishing last year at 26-34 (.371 win %), giving them their 5th straight losing season following their 2015 World Series win. The Royals have been flat out bad. Some years they can’t seem to find the ball even if the fate of the world depended on it. Other years, it’s the rotation or bullpen. Some are a combination of the two. However, it’s not the Royals’ shortcomings or losing that makes this season familiar. In fact, it’s the shadow of previous victories in 2014 and 2015.

General Manager Dayton Moore is seemingly creating patterns to how he builds a team. The Royals’ 2014 team, that was 90 feet away from starting off a back-to-back World Series Champion run, is strikingly similar to the current 2021 team.

In 2014, the Royals had a young, homegrown core of C Salvador Perez, 1B Eric Hosmer, 3B Mike Moustakas, SS Alcides Escobar, and OF Alex Gordon. Furthermore, the team consisted of one player that was signed (Omar Infante) and two that had been traded to the team at some point (Lorenzo Cain & Nori Aoki). The position players were young and developing, with an average age of 28.

Right now you might be thinking “what does this have to do with this year’s Royals team?” I’ll tell you.

2021’s team is strikingly similar to ’14. The Royals projected lineup yet again has a young, homegrown core of almost the exact same positions: C Salvador Perez, 2B Adalberto Mondesi, 3B Hunter Dozier, SS Bobby Witt Jr, and OF Whit Merrifield. The only outlier there is instead of a homegrown first baseman and signed second baseman, they have a signed first baseman (Carlos Santana) and a homegrown second baseman. Not only that, but this team also features one signed infielder (Santana) and two outfielders that had been traded to them at some point (Jorge Soler & Andrew Benintendi). Even crazier, this team’s average age is 28.125 years old. Just 0.125 older than 2014’s.

Moore has shown his blueprint for success. Fast and defensively solid teams, with just enough of a bat to be offensively competitive (although this year’s squad looks to have more firepower on that end). As has happened previously, when teams of this nature click, they are bound to find enough of a winning touch to make a run and that’s why I believe the Royals will turn on the jets about midway through the season, make some deadline moves, and become a dark-horse contender.

Photo credit: Leon Halip / Getty Images