3 big assumptions KC Royals fans shouldn't make
Shaky KC Royals Assumption No. 2: Nicky Lopez will end the season a Royal
Nicky Lopez finishing every season with the Royals for years to come seemed plausible when, saved from banishment to the minors by Adelberto Mondesi's late spring training injury in 2021, he took over at shortstop, hit .300, and just missed winning the Gold Glove that should have been his.
But Lopez regressed last year, his .227 average falling back into line with the .240 he hit in in 2019 and the even worse .201 he struggled to in 2020. And although the .474/.524/.632 he slashed for Team Italy in this year's World Baseball Classic sparked hope, the .059 (1-for-17) he hit in the Cactus League all but snuffed it out.
Lopez made the Opening Day roster, but with Michael Massey at second base, Bobby Witt Jr. at shortstop and Hunter Dozier at third, Lopez has no place to start, and veteran utility man Matt Duffy suddenly becoming a Royal could mean he has serious competition for the reserve role for which his superb defense makes him so suitable. Even at 32, though, Duffy probably has two or three decent seasons left, and his eight-season .280 big league average renders him more trustworthy at the plate than Lopez.
The Royals love Lopez's glove. But as good as it is, and unless his hitting improves and Duffy's fails, it might not be enough to keep him in Kansas City.
Is there any other big assumption that isn't safe?