KC Royals: Some fun Royal facts after first 20 games

(Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports) /
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KC Royals, Michael A. Taylor
(Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports) /

The team offense isn’t great, but some KC Royals are doing interesting things.

As a whole, the Kansas City offense isn’t spectacular. The Royals rank in the top half of the majors only in batting average (12th at .236), slugging (15th at .389), runs (15th with 91), triples (third with five), steals (second with 22), and they’ve struck out less than every team but one. Look a little closer, though, and you’ll discover some fun and interesting things and numbers about individual players.

The guy who supposedly can’t hit is actually hitting well for the KC Royals.

From the moment he became a Royal and the club’s presumptive center fielder in November, Michael A. Taylor’s .196 average last season, and his career .237 average and .291 OBP, were enough to question his signing.

But whatever preseason adjustments the Royals’ hitting staff and Taylor made are working. Although his bat has seen its peaks and valleys, Taylor enters today’s game against Detroit hitting .288 with a .347 OBP, and his .354 BABIP leads the club by a wide margin.

Taylor also has some clutch hits—he’s driven in four runs and is batting .286 with runners in scoring position.

Taylor’s stats don’t lie. He’s been what the Royals hoped for.

Carlos Santana is quietly doing much of what the KC Royals want him to do.

The Royals knew from the start Carlos Santana won’t win any batting titles. They knew he won’t steal many bases. What they also knew, and what drove the team to sign him, is he plays first base well, hits home runs, and gets on base.

So far, he’s meeting the club’s expectations. He has one error at first, his four home runs put him on pace to hit about 32, and he leads the club in OBP (.360) and walks (15). For good measure, Santana’s 16 RBIs are also the team’s best, and those 15 walks are the second most in the American League and third highest in the majors.

Nicky Lopez is making it hard for the Royals to send him back to the minors.

Nicky Lopez is in the majors only because someone else can’t play—demoted to the minors before the season, the Royals chose Lopez to replace injured shortstop Adalberto Mondesi. Now, what looked like a temporary reinstatement may become a permanent recall—Lopez is posting the best numbers of his short career.

Lopez is so improved at the plate that the club may very well keep him when Mondesi is healthy, which will allow Whit Merrifield to return to right field.

The proof is in the numbers. Lopez slashed a passable (for a rookie) .240/.276/.325 in 2020, but a miserable .201/.286/.266 last season. And a .118/.231/.147 Cactus League line this spring wiped out any realistic chance he had to continue his big league career without corrective minor league work.

It’s a different Lopez at the plate now. Through Sunday, Lopez is slashing .278/.344/.352, far from Silver Slugger-caliber but well above his previous marks.