Kansas City Royals: 3 candidates for bounce-back seasons in 2020

Brett Phillips, KC Royals (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Brett Phillips, KC Royals (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /
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Kansas City Royals, Ryan O'Hearn
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

Though the power had seemed to disappear, Ryan O’Hearn was able to make some noise and again gain confidence towards the end of the 2019 season.

Ryan O’Hearn is another player that many Kansas City Royals fans know. O’Hearn is most likely best known for the outstanding half-year he put together during the 2018 season. O’Hearn was called up from AAA Omaha on July 31, 2018, and he went on to make a huge splash, making his name known around baseball.

In the two months O’Hearn played in 2018, he slashed .262/.353./.597 and recorded 30 RBI’s, 12 home runs, and 10 doubles. His fielding percentage was a .983, but with the offensive production he was showing off, the defense could be looked over while the rookie found his footing.

O’Hearn looked to be the future first baseman for the Royals, and one that could hammer the ball for a large number of home runs. Unfortunately, O’Hearn’s 2019 season did not go as expected. O’Hearns month of April slash was .158/.286/.329, a huge difference from what the Royals saw at the end of 2018. O’Hearn continued to struggle, having a slightly better May, but seeing his numbers drop again in June.

On June 14, 2019, the Royals optioned O’Hearn to Omaha, where he stayed until he was finally recalled on July 27. O’Hearn struggled in his first few games back at Kauffman but quickly started to show signs of the 2018 O’Hearn the fans loved. In August, O’Hearn slashed .200/.300/.400, followed by a September slash of .250/.283/.536. While he still struggled at the plate, the power O’Hearn had previously shown was returning.

O’Hearn ended 2019 with 105 games, a .195/.281/.369 slash, 38 RBI’s and 14 home runs. While it’s not pretty, it doesn’t mean that he is a complete loss. O’Hearn is the perfect example of a player who needed to be reminded that he is not invincible and that AAA is always waiting. Situations like this are seen on every team, with all kinds of players.

When O’Hearn was sent back down to Omaha, his job was on the line, a job that was all but his at the beginning of the season. Once he was recalled and given his shot again, he started to show promise and a rise in his stock. Along with the “shock time” at Omaha, the Royals showed they are not afraid to bring in other options with the acquisition of Ryan McBroom. McBroom could end up in another position, but O’Hearn should see him as his competition for first.

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With the uptick in O’Hearn’s stats at the end of 2019, plus the possibility of losing his spot to another player, it is safe to say that O’Hearn is due for a bounce-back season in 2020. The question is will it be enough to secure his spot on the future Royals team. For the Royals, O’Hearn is a cheap, in-house option to try out for another season. If he is unable to produce, it may be time to move on, but if he can continue with his show of power at a .250 batting average, the Royals could have another home run king on the field.