One of the biggest questions surrounding Opening Day, and the rest of the season for that matter, is who will be the main guy in right field for the Kansas City Royals.
Though many perceive competition as every man for himself, the Kansas City Royals battle for the right field position is a healthy one. The main competitors are Brian Goodwin, Jorge Soler, Jorge Bonifacio, and Brett Phillips.
It is being speculated that Soler will shift into the DH slot, at least to begin the season. But, he isn’t completely out of the right field race. He’s returning from his foot injury, but he should be ready by Opening Day. He profiles as a good right field option, but it seems that for the time being, he will likely take on the DH role.
Soler played in just 61 games in the 2018 season and slashed .265/.354/.466. Soler’s total career fWAR is currently at 1.8 for his MLB career. His defensive statistics don’t look that great, though, with the defensive runs category showing negative for every year he has been in the league.
The Kansas City Star’s Lynn Worthy put together an article about another contender, Brian Goodwin. The former Washington National was traded to the Royals in the middle of the 2018 season, and after going into the offseason with 16% body fat, he is down to 9%. He spent the colder months training with Duke University’s assistant track coach, Mark Mueller.
His hard work in the offseason will go a long way towards helping make a case for why he deserves the starting gig. He played in 75 major league games between both the Nationals and Royals. His slash line sat at .239/.318/.390 on the season between the two. His career fWAR, so far, sits at 1.0 in the MLB.
Another player gained in a trade. This one with the Milwaukee Brewers for Mike Moustakas. He has an 80-grade arm, which is extremely impressive. Originally drafted by the Houston Astros, the 24 year old did not fare well at the plate between his two squads in the 2018 season.
Phillips slashed .187/.252/.306 in 2018. Not great, but his defense is stellar and his plate woes will hopefully soon fade. Combined on his major league career, his fWAR totals 1.6.
The only homegrown one of the bunch, Jorge Bonifacio was signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Kansas City Royals in 2009. He first appeared in the majors in 2017.
He played in 69 games in 2018, partially due to PED suspension, but during that time, he slashed .225/.312/.360. His fWAR for his two year MLB career to this point (though one was shortened by 80 games) is 1.2.
Who gets the job?
It seems as if Brett Phillips is the best option. Jorge Soler profiles better as a DH because of his defensive abilities. Phillips has proven he has the speed, the arm strength, and the awareness to take on the right field spot and flourish.
As far as Goodwin is concerned, he profiles as probably the second best option. Though both he and Bonifacio have tallied better statistics at the plate than Phillips, if Phillips is not performing well enough at the plate for his defense to be the deciding factor, one of the other two may get the call.