Two veteran KC Royals hitters can reach laudable marks before 2022 ends.
Despite his reputation as a good glove, soft bat center fielder when he signed a one-season contract with Kansas City for the 2021 season, Michael A. Taylor wasn’t terrible at the plate last year, hitting .244 with 12 home runs and 54 RBIs. And winning his first Gold Glove had much to do with the Royals rewarding him with a brand new two-year deal before the season ended.
Bringing Taylor back paid off. His defense is still good and he’s batting .269, a mere three points lower than the career-best .271 he hit for Washington five years ago, and with three weeks left a new personal record is within his grasp.
Taylor can also reach double digits in home runs. He has nine and could equal or even surpass last year’s 12, the third highest of his nine-year career.
Two stints on the Injured List and thumb surgery mean Salvador Perez won’t repeat his strong 48-homer, 121-RBI 2021 season, but he’s only eight RBIs away from 75, which would be the fourth most of his 11-year career, and he needs a slightly less likely 14 to surpass 80 for his second best.
Some pretty good numbers are well within range for four KC Royals rookies.
Fortunately for him and the Royals, the shoulder discomfort that forced Vinnie Pasquantino to the IL 20 days ago didn’t prevent his return to the lineup this year. He doubled in his first game back last week and looks good to go.
Home runs, though, are more Pasquantino’s trademark than doubles, and clubbing two homers before the last out of the season comes Oct. 5 in Cleveland will give him 10 for the season, not a bad number for a rookie who wasn’t promoted to the big leagues until late June.
Fellow rookie Nick Pratto’s home run situation is almost the same. He needs three to reach 10 after making his major league debut almost three weeks after Pasquantino made his.
Pratto has another mark he probably wants dearly to achieve—hitting only .193, heating up and getting as far above the Mendoza Line as possible should help him avoid the possibility of starting next season at Triple-A Omaha for remedial bat work.
With 20 homers and 27 steals, Bobby Witt Jr. has already locked in a 20-20 rookie campaign. Swiping three more bases will be easy; topping off 2022 with 30 or more steals will make his excellent first big league year even better.
And what of MJ Melendez? The rookie who’s staking a solid claim to next season’s regular left field job (he’ll also catch when Salvador Perez DH’s or takes a day off) has 15 homers, but expecting him to reach 20 might be a stretch. Getting to 20 doubles is more realistic—he has 18.