Kansas City Royals: 3 players who need to take next step in 2020
By Ryan Sikes
3. Brett Phillips
The centerfield situation is a mess right now. Both Bubba Starling and Brett Phillips are getting their shot to lock down the position but neither one of them is exactly impressing. If you recall, Phillips came over to the Royals in the Mike Moustakas trade in July 2018. He’s one of the best defensive outfielders in the game, often making catches that the rest of the league cannot.
But, he’s slashing just 0.156/0.278/0.267 in 20 games with the Royals this season. It’s obviously a small sample size but he produced similar numbers last season split between both the Brewers and Royals. Phillips was excellent for Triple-A this season, slashing 0.240/0.378/0.505 with 8 doubles, 13 triples, 18 home runs and 54 RBI’s in 105 games.
Perhaps he just needs more playing time but he’s batting just 0.133 over his last 15 games. Looking back to his 2017 season, Phillips was squaring the ball up well with a 9.3 barrel percentage but has not done so once this year with just an average exit velocity of 83.2 mph as well. If he had enough at-bats, he would challenge Lopez for weakest contact as his hard-hit percentage sits at just 17.6 percent.
Reason for optimism
With more playing time in 2017 and 2018, Phillips has shown the ability to hit the ball hard with a 31.5 and 29.7 hard-hit rate, respectively.
Reason for pessimism
With more playing time, Phillips has been susceptible to the strikeout at 34.7 and 41.5 percent in 2017 and 2018, respectively. The 25-year old still has some time to right the ship but don’t be surprised if the Royals have an insurance plan in case he (and Starling) don’t pan out.