KC Royals: Predicting the 2022 Opening Day lineup

(Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports) /
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KC Royals, Carlos Santana
(Mandatory Credit: Gary Rohman-USA TODAY Sports) /

Batting fifth and playing first base for the KC Royals: Carlos Santana.

Less than a week away from opening Day, Kansas City first baseman Carlos Santana is in an interesting (some will say precarious) position. This is his contract year, the season his current two-year deal expires, and Nick Pratto’s recent demotion to Triple-A Omaha doesn’t change the fact that the club’s No. 3 MLB Pipeline prospect is so close to the majors.

What all that means, of course, is Santana’s days with the club are numbered. If the Royals aren’t shopping him now, they will be by July and he’s almost certain to be plying his trade elsewhere after the trade deadline passes.

Projecting Carlos Santana. light. More

Until he leaves, however, Santana is a good choice to bat fifth for the Royals. The hip injury that dogged him throughout last season’s second half clearly hurt his numbers (his .214 average was, except for the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, the worst of his 12-year career, and his .319 OBP was without exception his lowest), but Santana still managed to club 19 homers and drive in 69 runs.

And he’s shown no signs of that hip injury this spring. Through Friday (the Royals didn’t play Saturday), and despite not homering yet, Santana is 10-for-26 with six RBIs and a .393 OBP in nine games.