The time has definitely come for the KC Royals to cut Ryan O’Hearn loose.
Kansas City faced a gaping hole at first base entering the 2018 season—gone with no truly suitable replacement was Gold Glove All-Star Eric Hosmer. Lucas Duda tried but didn’t measure up, and the Royals shipped him to Atlanta in late August.
But by the end of the season, the club had to think it might have found the answer to its first base problem. Young rookie Ryan O’Hearn, called up from Omaha July 31, hit 12 homers, drove in 30 runs and hit a respectable .262 before the campaign ended. And his .353 OBP proved he could get on base.
Disappointing, however, is the only way to describe O’Hearn since then. He hit .195 in both 2019 and 2020, then .225 this season; he seemed to recapture his form at the plate with a .324 average in June, but then hit .193 in July, .246 in August, and a combined .188 in September and October.
Unfortunately, O’Hearn shows few, if any, signs of figuring out major league pitching, rendering illogical the club’s insistence on keeping him in the lineup. It’s the kind of mistake the Royals made in 2019 with Duda, who they curiously brought back, and Chris Owings. Kansas City is known to hang on to players too long.
And that’s what they should avoid with O’Hearn. He hasn’t hit for three years and the club really doesn’t have a place for him. Letting him go now is the right move.