When the KC Royals drafted Kyle Zimmer in 2012, they had high expectations. Perhaps a different route would’ve panned out better.
The 2012 MLB Draft delivered some serious talent. Household names like Carlos Correa, Jose Berrios, Corey Seager and Marcus Stroman headline the list. The KC Royals, coming off a 71-91 season, landed the No. 5 overall pick in that draft. They ended up taking right-handed pitcher Kyle Zimmer.
Zimmer is famous for battling injury upon injury along his journey to the major leagues. He didn’t make his MLB debut until this past season, posting an alarmingly high 10.80 ERA in just 18 innings of work. He was awarded another option for this year, although it may not end up being as big of a deal now due to a potentially shortened (or even nonexistent) 2020 campaign. He’s facing a ton of pressure to simply establish his career, let along live up to the hype of being a former top-five draft pick.
Bleacher Report recently re-drafted the 2012 class. This time around, the Royals picked current Oakland Athletics first baseman, Matt Olson. In the real world, Olson was the 47th overall pick by Oakland. Here, instead of sliding all the way to pick No. 47, he goes in the top-five. Here’s some of what the article had to say about the hypothetical pick:
"“The arrival of Matt Olson as one of baseball’s best all-around first basemen syncs up perfectly with the departure of Eric Hosmer in free agency following the 2017 season. Olson slugged 24 home runs in 59 games to finish fourth in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2017 and took over as the Oakland Athletics’ everyday first baseman the following year.”"
Olson has only gotten better since then. He managed to play in all 162 games in 2018, posting a .788 OPS while clobbering 29 home runs and playing tremendous defense at first base. He then hit 36 home runs in 2019 despite battling an injury and playing in 35 fewer games overall. At 26 years old, his best baseball is almost surely ahead of him and as a back-to-back Gold Glove winner, he’s already a stud.
Promoting Olson either during or immediately following the 2017 season would’ve provided the club with a perfect replacement for Hosmer, whose performance at the plate was inconsistent. He never seemed to truly cash in on his power potential either, which is something Olson blows him out of the water in regards to. Coming at a much cheaper price than the albatross of a deal Hosmer signed with the San Diego Padres, the transition to Olson would have been extremely smooth.
You can’t change history, though. Hopefully, Zimmer figures things out and becomes at least a semi-productive player in the MLB. Until then, I suppose we can wish the KC Royals would’ve gone with Olson.