KC Royals’ Brett Phillips facing a “now or never” situation

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

KC Royals outfielder Brett Phillips is a fan favorite and one heck of a defender. He needs to perform at the plate in order to stick, though.

The KC Royals are facing a pivotal season as an organization. Once games begin — and let’s hope they do — things will take shape for the future. The rebuild should almost all be downhill now, with the rest of it coming from internal development and smart drafting by Dayton Moore. The common expectation has been that the Boys in Blue will return to being near-playoff-caliber (or in the big dance) in 2022.

One Royal who is facing a critical 2020 campaign is outfielder Brett Phillips. He’s hands-down one of the nicest guys in baseball. He has a rocket arm and great range in center field to boot. He’s the KC Royals’ representative for the league-wide “MLB: The Show” tournament, for crying out loud. Phillips’ biggest drawback, though, is his bat.

Call to the Pen’s David Hill recently published an article on Phillips “fighting for his major league career.” He also used the phrase “now or never” to close the piece. Hill wasn’t exaggerating about Phillips. The 25-year-old outfielder brings tremendous value as a defender but if he can’t soon figure out how to hit consistently, it could be the end of the line. In 30 games with the team last season, Phillips hit just .138 with a .247 OBP. That’s unplayable, no matter how you slice it.

Our Michael Huckins noted in his season preview over Phillips that the former Brewers prospect has already shown he can hit minor league pitching. That isn’t a question. In the MLB, though, Phillips has been an unbelievably low-average, high-strikeout hitter with raw power potential that has yet to be tapped into.

Phillips is out of options, meaning the KC Royals will hopefully give him every chance to compete in 2020. Moving Whit Merrifield to center field and shifting Hunter Dozier to right creates a bit of a logjam, as Bubba Starling also needs one last chance to show what he can do. Inconsistent playing time has been a huge obstacle for both Phillips and Starling to overcome, and the current situation doesn’t make things better.

Next. Shortened draft would put added pressure on Dayton Moore. dark

Phillips is a great guy and could be a good player. He has to hit the ball, though. Here’s to him putting it all together soon.