The Kansas City Royals should have better hitting results in 2019. Who’s star will shine above the rest?
With the dismal 2018 season in the rear view mirror, I believe we will see a much improved offense this year. Granted the Kansas City Royals will be fielding a team of mostly new faces compared to the start of last year. Many with limited experience or success. However, the youth and the level of team skills is better.
Competition is a wonderful thing. Players all over the field are competing against others for jobs and careers. It brings out the best and tests players abilities against their teammates and others. There will be competition between players who are on the field too.
Throughout the season, Whit Merrifield, Billy Hamilton, Adalberto Mondesi and Terrance Gore will compete on who will be the best base stealer. Not just for most stolen bases either but also who gets caught the least. Who has the fastest first to second time etc. Its this type of competition I believe can lead to some good offensive numbers.
The Kansas City Royals have the potential for at least five players who could hit 20 or more home runs in 2019. Two of them, Ryan O’Hearn and Mondesi might even break 30. Salvador Perez, Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier rounding out that list. Alex Gordon has done it, but if the Royals platoon him against lefties, he might not get the at bats to do it. We have the power to drive in runs, but will there be men on base to drive in?
On Base Percentage
I expect Merrifield and Mondesi to have big years at the top of the batting order. Merrifield should lead the team OBP. Mondesi will benefit from that by seeing a lot of fastballs around the plate. With the way he was driving the ball at the end of 2018, his numbers may finally reach the expectations so many have been predicting.
Runs Batted In
To me, Soler looks like a good fit in the third slot. Before he got hurt, he was driving the ball better than anyone else in early 2018. We may finally see a full year of production out of him. The Royals seem to be moving away from him as a full time fielder. That should limit his chance of injury. The person in this spot will also see fastballs if one or both of the first two are on base.
The fourth place in the batting order should also see a lot of good pitches to hit. O’Hearn looks like a natural here. Even if he doesn’t hit one out of the park, there should be ample opportunities to drive in runs on fly balls. Contact will be key for him. Strikeouts will not score runs. Putting balls in play will be mandatory here in the order.
Perez would be my pick for fifth in the lineup. He should have a better year. Last year he looked like he was pressing at the plate, trying to hit home runs and carry the team. He and Mike Moustakas were about the only offense during the great losing streak. With more production in front of him, he should bounce back and put up better numbers.
So who out of this group will have the best year at the plate. My guess is Mondesi. He finally broke out last year and built some confidence. Starting fresh, knowing he has the starting job at short, I expect his production to explode this year.
I don’t think we would be out of range to expect a .275/.320/550 performance with 60 to 70 extra base hits. With 25 to 30 of them being home runs. Add to that 60 to 70 steals and driving in 75 or more. His place in the lineup combined with the production he showed at the end of the season being the biggest reason for my prediction.
Merrifield would be my runner up followed by Soler and O’Hearn. Really any of these three could have explosive numbers this year. It will all be driven by the top of the order. Their speed and OBP will play into how the rest of the lineup is pitched to. When they are on base, the lineup that follows will benefit by seeing fewer off speed pitches. That bodes well for big numbers on a team that likes fastballs.
I believe Dayton Moore when he says we will see an exciting brand of Kansas City Royals baseball this season!