A set lineup will help Mike Matheny and the KC Royals avoid 100 losses.
Unlike the past few seasons, when finding an established, solid Opening Day lineup was an exercise in frustration and futility, second year Kansas City manager Mike Matheny can pre-print 2021’s lineup card and mail it in. That’s how set this year’s nine positions already are.
Catcher? No thought required. Salvador Perez.
First base? Carlos Santana. Finally, a proven first sacker, the first since Eric Hosmer.
Second base? Nicky Lopez and his wonderful glove. He might not even have to hit much to keep the job.
Shortstop? Adalberto Mondesi, of course. His defense is comparable to Lopez’s; look out if he hits like he did last September.
Third base? Hunter Dozier, although he may be just warming the spot until Bobby Witt Jr. is ready.
Left field? Andrew Benintendi. Filling Alex Gordon’s old spot with some lefthanded pop is why the KC Royals traded for him.
Center field? Michael A. Taylor. The club is high on him, and the wide expanse in center is his until his bat proves otherwise.
Right field? Whit Merrifield. The rest of the lineup’s strength could allow him to remain in one spot for a while.
DH? The club’s single-season home run champ, Jorge Soler.
It’s a solid lineup packed top to bottom with established big league players. Not since the 2015 World Series team, or perhaps the 2016 club, has a KC Royals early lineup appeared so comfortably set and stable. Only injuries, trades, or extended slumps by Lopez or Taylor should significantly alter the design Dayton Moore worked so hard on over the winter.
As it stands now, this 2021 lineup isn’t going to drop 100 games.
Resolve, a good bullpen, and an established lineup will make the Royals better this season. Losing 100 games isn’t in the cards.