These Kansas City Royals hitters always seemed to find the four leave clover in 2016. Expect them to decline this year.
Last year Paulo Orlando hit a pace nobody expected he would, posting a .302 batting average. Paulo Orlando also had the 8th best BABIP among hitters with at least 250 plate appearances. This made a lot of sense, because Orlando raised his batting average 53 points. He did this even after decreasing his LD% and hard hit %.
I hold hope, though, that Orlando can still keep this up. Last year he started hitting more groundballs, which with his speed will result in more hits. Orlando is also very extremely hard to prepare for. He showed a great skill in spraying the ball all over the field in 2016.
Though he likely can’t sustain his insanely high BABIP, I think if he can keep his good approach at the plate, he can still be a serviceable major league player.
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One hitter likely to decline is Whit Merrifield. Like all other cases, Merriefield was tremendously lucky with his BABIP. Merriefield posted a .361 BABIP, which by far was the highest in his professional career. You don’t have to go far, though, to find that he made great contact. Last year. Merrifield had a 25.5 LD%, an above average rate. But after major league pitching had adjusted to Merrifield, he saw his LD% decrease, which led to a decrease in production.
This isn’t to say Merrifield can’t help. He will still give the Royals good production based off good contact, good speed, and versatility.
After a banner season offensively for backup catcher Drew Butera, the Royals gave Butera a generous contract extension of two years. Throughout his career, Butera hasn’t been much offensively. Butera posted a wRC+ of 114, 53 points higher than his previous career high. A lot of this was predicated by a .373 BABIP, which ranked 13th out of 438 hitters with at least 100 plate appearances. Butera also almost tripled his career HR/FB% is 2016, which aided to his performance at the plate.
The projections think Butera will drop off in almost every offensive category. I would think Butera returns closer to his pre-2016 form.
If some Royals can over perform again this year, this team could be a threat in the AL Central. Hopefully some good luck can fall their way.