Ryan O’Hearn has really struggled to lock down the everyday first baseman gig for the Kansas City Royals but has come along in this final month.
Flashback to the 2018 season and Kansas City Royals’ 2014 8th round draft pick, Ryan O’Hearn was promoted to the big leagues on July 31 after slashing 0.232/0.322/0.391 with 11 home runs and 52 RBI’s in 100 games for Triple-A Omaha.
With a struggling Lucas Duda for most of the season and his eventual trade to the Atlanta Braves at the end of August, it made a lot of sense to bring O’Hearn up to get a look at the 25-year old. In just 44 games, O’Hearn slashed 0.262/0.353/0.597 with 12 home runs and 30 RBI’s.
It looked like the Royals had a long-term solution for the first base position but O’Hearn’s numbers this season have left a lot to be desired. He started the season with the big league club after barely making the roster in Spring Training but was sent back down to Omaha to work on a few things in mid-June.
He returned to the Royals at the end of July and has really come on strong as of late. In his last 15 games, O’Hearn is slashing 0.317/0.417/0.659 with 4 home runs and 7 RBI’s. His hot streak really got going at the end of August in Cleveland when he clubbed two home runs in the series finale.
His manager, Ned Yost, indicated that O’Hearn’s recent success is primarily due to him utilizing the whole field a little bit more:
"He’s seeing the ball better. Kind of using the whole field a little bit more. When he was really struggling, he was a little late in the swing. He’s more on time. So he’s doing all those things together and he’s swinging the bat much better, getting more hits. – Fox Sports Kansas City"
The Royals acquired Ryan McBroom at the end of August to get a good look at him as a potential solution at first base, so O’Hearn’s job security is by no means safe. McBroom, 27, got off to a fast start with the club but has really struggled in his last seven games slashing 0.217/0.250/0.304 with 3 RBI’s and 7 strikeouts.
It’ll be interesting to see what the team plans to do this offseason. I think it would be foolish to not have an insurance plan at first base given O’Hearn’s inconsistency. What that answer looks like, right now? I am not exactly sure but hopefully, we can have some answers in the coming weeks and into Spring Training next season.