KC Royals Projections: Hanser Alberto will win a job

(Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports) /

Non-roster invitee Hanser Alberto will make the KC Royals’ Opening Day roster.

Welcome back to Kings of Kauffman’s KC Royals Projections series for 2021. Between now and Opening Day, our writers are analyzing how various Royals performed last season and predicting how they might fare this year. Up today is Hanser Alberto.

Hanser Alberto doesn’t have a major league contract, and there are no guarantees he’ll be in the big leagues on Opening Day. But if you had to put money on a non-roster spring training invitee to break spring camp with the KC Royals, he’s a pretty good bet.

One of General Manager Dayton Moore’s team-building offseason acquisitions, Alberto signed a minor league contract reportedly worth $1.65 million (plus incentives) if the Royals promote him to the big club, and received an invitation to spring training. Among almost 30 other similarly-situated hopefuls, he has one of the best chances to earn his way to Kauffman Stadium.

The 28-year old has major league credentials. A career (five years) .278 hitter with some power (he homered 12 times for Baltimore in 2019, the first season he’d played more than 41 games in the majors), Alberto put in more time at second base in 2019 and ’20 than any other Oriole, hitting .305 in 2019 and .283 last season. He plays above average defense and has big league experience at every position but catcher and center field.

Why Baltimore non-tendered him after last season probably had much more to do with franchise finances than his ability. And the Orioles’ intentional loss could turn out to be Kansas City’s gain.

Baseball Reference and FanGraphs projections for Alberto’s 2021 season

Baseball Reference and FanGraphs have distinctly different ideas about how much Alberto will play this season, but both think he’ll fare well at the plate.

Baseball Reference projects he’ll hit 13 homers in 567 plate appearances, drive in 56 runs, and slash .279/.319/.404. FanGraphs (Depth Charts version) predicts four home runs, 23 RBIs and a .283/.308/.397 line in 245 plate appearances.

What kind of season will Hanser Alberto actually have for the KC Royals?

One thing seems certain for Alberto this season—he’ll play. Kelvin Gutierrez was the front-runner to be the club’s primary utility infielder, but that was before Moore signed Alberto. Now, Alberto’s more complete package gives him the clear edge. Barring a horrible spring or injury, he’ll be the backup infielder come Opening Day.

And Alberto could mean even more to a Kansas City team waiting for second baseman Nicky Lopez to revive the good minor league bat that turned sour when he reached the majors two years ago. At this point in their respective careers, Alberto is far better at the plate, especially against lefthanders—the righty boasts a career .350 average against southpaws against Lopez’s .228. It’s a stark comparison, one that may compel the Royals to platoon the two if Lopez’s plate troubles continue, or give Alberto the bulk of the playing time if they get worse.

Look for Alberto to hit fairly well if he plays regularly; he probably won’t duplicate his good 2019 and 2020 offensive numbers if gets in only a game or two a week, but he’ll still be valuable.

Next. Jakob Junis must hunt for a 2021 role. dark

Opening Day will find Hanser Alberto on Kansas City’s 26-man roster. Even if he spends most of his time on the bench, he’ll be good for the Royals.