KC Royals: Four players facing make or break seasons in 2020

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 26: Starting pitcher Kyle Zimmer #45 of the Kansas City Royals throws a pitch against the Texas Rangers during the first inning of the spring training game at Surprise Stadium on February 26, 2017 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 26: Starting pitcher Kyle Zimmer #45 of the Kansas City Royals throws a pitch against the Texas Rangers during the first inning of the spring training game at Surprise Stadium on February 26, 2017 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Kansas City Royals, Brett Phillips
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

In the Moustakas, Brett Phillips was the big name. His performance over 66 games has left much to be desired.

Brett Phillips is an excellent defensive outfielder. Any team would be happy to have a guy out there that can make the plays he makes. He is fast and he runs hard and his glove is true. Even in his short time in the major leagues, he has several amazing catches, like the one below.

Brett Phillips diving catch against Baltimore

Another web gem for Maverick!#AlwaysRoyal

Posted by Kansas City Royals on Saturday, August 31, 2019

And, if his glove does not impress you enough, maybe consider his arm. In 2017, Phillips threw a ball 104 MPH from the outfield to home in time to nail a runner. The Statcast video is below. And it is worth watching more than once. It is a work of art.

We have established that Phillips can play the outfield. In fact, he can probably play the outfield well enough to qualify as a fourth outfielder just based on his defensive abilities and how hard he plays. But, for Phillips to establish himself as an everyday big leaguer he is going to have to hit.

In 118 MLB games, Phillips has hit only .203. He has struck out too much. His strikeout percentage is over 36 percent in the big leagues. Last season for the Royals he slugged just over .260. That is weak. The Royals can find a way to use an outfielder who has a specialty in playing great centerfield defense. But not if his OPS is barely .500. Not if they expect to compete.

There are some promising signs for Phillips. He played over 100 games for Omaha last year and showed he was too good for AAA. He hit 18 home runs and 39 extra-base hits for a Slugging Percentage over .500. His walk rate has always been respectable but last year in AAA it was over 17 percent. He also maintained a walk rate over 12 percent for the Royals last year even with a bat that presented no real threat.

With Phillips’s ability to get on base he has shown he only needs to hit around .240 to maintain a reasonable On Base percentage. We know he can handle the defensive side of the game. With the possibility that some of his AAA power begins to show up in Kansas City he could have a breakout season in 2019. I will admit being biased towards Phillips, mostly because his defense is just so much fun to watch. But at age 26 he needs to at least finally show he can handle big-league pitching.

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