The KC Royals, after losing to the White Sox Thursday and Detroit Friday evening, are 0-2 for September. Even for Kansas City, a flawed club needing to win 21 of its final 29 games just to match last year’s 74 victories, predicting after two games precisely how it will end the month is folly.
One thing certain about September, though, is this: to feel secure about their Kansas City futures, several Royals must pad this season’s section of their career resumés. Three position players in particular must step things up.
Who are they?
Ryan O’Hearn’s KC Royals days should be numbered if his bat doesn’t improve.
The story of Ryan O’Hearn has gotten old. His first big league season, that promising 2018 campaign when he hit 12 homers, drove in 30 runs, and slashed .262/.353/.597 in 44 games, remains his best. He’s averaged a shade over six homers since then, batted .195 two straight years, .225 last season, and is batting .217 this year. Somehow, though, O’Hearn keeps finding playing time.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t do much with it. He has only five extra-base hits this season and his .276 OBP and .292 SLG speak for themselves. Yes, he’s been a decent pinch-hitter (9-for-23 with his only home run), but his negatives outweigh that positive.
If there’s any light at the end of O’Hearn’s tunnel, it’s the .263 he hit in August, his highest one-month average since the .324 he put up in June of last year. But to have an excellent chance of returning next year, he’ll need to do much better than that this month—he’s arbitration-eligible again this winter, meaning the Royals have a 40-man roster decision to make for Rule 5 Draft purposes.
And a player can survive with O’Hearn’s numbers for only so long. Even with the patient Royals.