It’s time for the KC Royals shortstop to see a full regular season without setbacks.
Between now and Opening Day, the Kings of Kauffman writers are analyzing how various KC Royals performed last season and predicting how they might fare this year. Up today is shortstop Adalberto Mondesi.
The KC Royals have players that fans see as essential superstars, and also some that may leave many wondering why Kansas City is continuing to hold on. One player that has found himself on both sides of that argument is Adalberto Mondesi.
Mondesi is the multi-tool shortstop in Kansas City that can hit, run, and defend. Unfortunately for Mondesi, either everything is working or it’s not, there is little in between.
Mondesi has been with the Royals since he signed with them at 16 years old before the 2012 season. He worked his way through each level of the minors and saw his first chance at major league baseball during the 2015 World Series.
Since then, Mondesi has seen his ups and downs. As a player that many thought would immediately be a full-time middle infielder in Kansas City, Mondesi could make things work for a while but struggled to be consistent in the majors. He continuously bounced back and forth between the majors and minors through 2019 for various reasons and was never able to find a full regular season in KC until the shortened 2020 season.
In 2018, Mondesi saw 75 games and slashed .276/.306/.498 adding 14 home runs, 13 doubles, and 32 stolen bases. This was enough for the Royals to stick with him for the 2019 season.
In 2019, Mondesi saw his most games of a season with 102. He likely would have seen even more, but he lost time due to injury during different points of the season that eventually led to a need for surgery. Still, he slashed .263/.291/.424 and hit 9 home runs, 20 doubles, a major league-leading 10 triples, and stole 43 bases.
Then, 2020 hit. Mondesi saw 59 games, just one short of the full shortened season. He slashed .256/.294/.416, hit 6 home runs, 11 doubles, and stole a major league-leading 24 bases. While Mondesi’s numbers could definitely be better, what makes them impressive is that he spent a majority of the season in a slump.
He struggled at the plate to begin the season and even had a few defensive issues. It seemed as though his head wasn’t in the game and questions started to surface about his future in Kansas City. Once September came, though, things started to change.
Whether he was finally feeling at full strength after his surgery, or something just clicked, Mondesi had a September for the books. Through the month, he batted .356/.408/.667, with 6 home runs, 6 doubles, and 16 stolen bases.
He finally looked like the player the Royals knew he could be. Now, Mondesi will have a chance to continue this success in 2021.
Baseball Reference and FanGraphs projections for Mondesi’s 2021 season
Thankfully, both Baseball Reference and FanGraphs project Mondesi to see a majority of the season, something he needs to prove he can do. Baseball Reference has Mondesi slashing .260/.305/.434, smashing 17 home runs, 7 triples, 25 doubles, and swiping 46 stolen bases.
FanGraphs has his slash at .253/.292/.429 with 19 home runs, 9 triples, 29 doubles, and 55 stolen bases.
What will the 2021 season hold for Mondesi in Kansas City?
One thing is clear from the projections, Mondesi is expected to steal bases. This is no surprise. Mondesi is fast and he has shown in the past that he is an outstanding base runner. 55 stolen bases would be a career-high for him, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him hit that.
What may hold Mondesi back is his ability to get on base. A superior base runner is nothing if they can’t get on base. Both projections have his on-base percentage (OBP) lower than the Royals likely want it, but Mondesi has done better so far in spring training. It’s likely those numbers won’t completely hold up as it’s just spring training, but going into the season with more confidence could do a lot to help him not fall into a slump again.
If Mondesi can pick up where he left off last season, the Royals will have a force in the lineup that makes them even more competitive. Even with just a decent batting average and OBP, though, Mondesi can still be terrifying once he gets on base.
His defense likely won’t come into question much. His speed and ability to read the field allow him to make great plays and while he does get into trouble every once in a while, he typically makes up for it.
Mondesi is the starting shortstop for 2021, there is no question there. The Royals haven’t given up on him yet and there is talk about a large contract in the works. Mondesi must continue to show that he can produce at the plate though.
While some home runs are likely, expect stolen bases and plenty of doubles and triples. His speed allows him to run out some extra bases that others may not be able to reach.
Mondesi found his footing at the end of last season and it’s finally time to get a full, healthy season out of the shortstop.
Adalberto Mondesi is set up for a great season. Hopefully, he can deliver and produce at the plate for the Royals.