A little less than a month ago, I predicted the 2018 Spring Training stat leaders for the Kansas City Royals. Now that the team is in a bit of a groove, let’s take a look back at those predictions, along with some other interesting trends.
If you haven’t read my Kings of Kauffman Spring Training stat leader predictions, you can find that article here. In said article, I mentioned some players who could lead the Royals in specific stat categories this spring, as well as listing the players who occupied those spots a year ago. Heading into today’s matchup vs. the Dodgers, your Royals stood 9-10-1 in Spring Training play. There have been some pleasant surprises (as well as disappointments) thus far, but let’s take a more detailed look at the numbers.
Predicted Batting Average leader: Whit Merrifield
Actual BA leader (current): Paulo Orlando
Although Orlando is batting a scorching .458 this spring, Merrifield isn’t far behind him at .441. Not many saw this type of performance coming from Orlando, who has recorded 11 hits (five of them doubles) in 10 games. It remains to be seen if he can continue this performance when he returns from his injury but until then, Orlando is your current BA leader in Spring Training. I’m going to stick with Merrifield as my pick, though.
Predicted Home Runs leader: Jorge Soler
Actual HR leader (current): Jorge Soler
Soler is in sole possession of first place on the team’s HR leaderboard in Spring Training with four bombs. Salvador Perez is in second place and has went yard three times. Soler has impacted many of the games he’s played in, despite hitting just .200 in 35 at-bats. Thankfully, I didn’t pick him to lead the team in batting average! I’m sticking with this pick for sure. Surprisingly, he also currently leads the team in the next category as well.
Predicted RBI leader: Jorge Bonifacio
Actual RBI leader (current): Jorge Soler
Bonifacio is currently tied for second in RBIs and was experiencing a successful Spring Training until as of late. A positive drug test led to him receiving an 80-game suspension that begins when the regular season does. Fortunately, the other Jorge is drama-free thus far and leads the team not only in home runs, but RBIs as well. We’ll see if Soler can improve his batting average and, in theory, potentially hold this lead. I think he can.
Predicted ERA leader: Kelvin Herrera
Who would have guessed Almonte, Boyer, and Sparkman would have such great springs? Even though Herrera is not too far down the list with an ERA of 1.80, the aforementioned trio has yet to allow a run. All three pitchers have exceeded expectations and will look to continue to do so if they want to earn any MLB playing time in 2018. If I had to bet on one of these arms maintaining a 0.00 ERA, I’d put my money on Almonte.
Predicted Strikeouts leader: Ian Kennedy
I can’t take full credit for this one because Junis and Smith share the lead with Kennedy. I can, however, note that in 23 innings among the three, Kennedy and co. have each struck out 10 batters. It’s also worth noting that both Kevin McCarthy and Wily Peralta have nine punchouts thus far. You can take your pick on who you think will finish Spring Training in first place in this category. For the purpose of this article, I’ll stick with Kennedy.
Well, in general, I’m very satisfied with my predictions thus far. I wasn’t dead wrong on any of them and I have some wiggle room to improve my 2/5 ratio to 3/5 if Merrifield can overthrow Orlando for the Spring Training BA title. Expect the rest of the spring to go how it has been: up-and-down. Plenty of positives and negatives to go around.
What do you want to see the rest of Spring Training, Royals fans? What trends are and aren’t sustainable? Let us know what you have to say in the comments or on social media!