Projecting the KC Royals’ Opening Day starting lineup
By Jordan Foote
Second base: Nicky Lopez
Nicky Lopez is one of the more interesting players in this lineup. Before he was promoted last May, he’d built a reputation as a high-contact, high-walk, low-strikeout player that also provided good speed and defense. His final numbers from 2019 don’t paint a great picture, though.
In 103 games with the KC Royals last season, Lopez posted a .240/.276/.325 line with a pair of home runs. His defense was solid and considering he also logged innings at shortstop when Adalberto Mondesi was injured, that’s a bright spot heading into this season. So is his performance down the stretch.
While battling a hand injury, Lopez posted a .288/.333/.444 line in the month of September. He also gained 18 pounds of muscle over the offseason and had a terrific 10-game sample size in spring training.
Of all the Royals on the team right now, Lopez has to be at the top of the list when referring to those poised for a breakout. He’s never going to be a big home run hitter and his style of play isn’t electrifying at the plate, but he can make nearly any play at second base and should see his OBP rise quite a bit. He’s the real deal, and the 2020 season should be a lot nicer to him than 2019 was.