The current Royals roster isn’t supposed to lose 100 games. There’s talent within this construct, and they could make a real splash as soon as this year.
A perfectly constructed batting lineup is key to maximizing each player’s potential and setting everything in motion on a nightly basis. Here’s my preferred lineup going into next season based on the current roster:
1. Adalberto Mondesi – SS (43 SBs)
2. Whit Merrifield – CF (16 HRs, 2019)
3. Jorge Soler – DH (48 HRs, 2019)
4. Salvador Perez – C (27 HRs, 2018)
5. Hunter Dozier – LF (26 HRs, 2019)
6. Maikel Franco – 3B (17 HRs in 2019, but has slugged 29 HRs with more ABs)
7. Ryan O’Hearn – 1B (14 HRs in 2019, but will certainly surpass 20 HRs with more ABs)
8. Bubba Starling – RF
9. Nicky Lopez – 2B
This is a dangerous lineup, but it all begins with the leadoff spot. Adalberto Mondesi must become the team’s leadoff hitter. Having Merrifield hit in front of Mondesi compares to having David Wright hitting leadoff in front of José Reyes.
This duo can provide a double threat for years to come, but they must have the right order in place. Reyes tormented pitchers the moment he reached base, and it set the tone for the opening frame and the rest of the game, as much attention is placed on a speedster such as him or Mondesi.
It’s not the first time the “Reyes/Mondesi” comparison has been made, and for good reason. They’re both from the Dominican Republic, they play shortstop, and both have incredible speed, so why isn’t he hitting first? His inability to get on base at a “leadoff hitter” rate is understandable, but Reyes endured the same struggles coming up at a similar age as Mondesi. Let’s change things up a bit – what’s the worst that can happen, the team loses 100 games?
After those two comes some power, and the Royals are primed for more of it this season. Last year, only Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier surpassed the 20-home run mark, and only Merrifield hit more than 15. That’s changing this time around.
Merrifield could hit 20 for the first time in his career, although he doesn’t have to and the team won’t require it. Soler should slug at least 30 (baseball reference projects 33), Dozier can also get to 30, Perez always hits at least 20, Franco has been hovering around 17 the last two seasons, but did hit 29 dingers in 2017. O’Hearn struggled terribly in 2019, and his power numbers suffered as his slugging percentage was the lowest in his professional career (he had a .479 SLG in the minors). However, he’s a walking 20 HRs a year and simply didn’t have enough plate appearances last year for us to discard his production.