Drew Waters is not the savior KC Royals fans expect him to be

And that is okay.
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Baseball, at a player and team level, is all about what you have done lately. It is why every losing skid sends some KC Royals into a tailspin. It is why every hitless game from shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. illicits hecklers and doubters to his stardom. Every 48 hours brings a new mood, and new outlook, or a new take about where the Royals are heading.

Yet the 162-game season marches on.

There are some constants and trends in Kansas City that are not knee-jerk reactions. Unfortunately, one of the most consistent negative trends is this outfield's negative impact on the lineup. The MLB season is now well past 60 games, and that position group has remained bad for the entire stretch. Led by MJ Melendez, Kyle Isbel, and Hunter Renfroe, here is how the Royals outfield ranks at the plate.


2024 Royals OF

2024 Rank

Batting Average



On-Base Percentage



Slugging Percentage















There are some stats, such as strikeout rate (12th) and barrel rate (16th), that Kansas City's outfielders rank respectably in. But, for nearly every batting metric known to man, the Royals outfield ranks at or near the bottom. Something has to give eventually.

Is Drew Waters the outfield answer for KC Royals?

There are limited ways Kansas City can address the issue this deep into the season. They will have to trade away assets for an impactful outfielder, but who and when makes that route more difficult. The immediate response, one that would satiate fans, involves demoting and promoting players. There is little question that left fielder MJ Melendez should be the first outfielder back to Omaha. His replacement though remains to be seen, but fans clamor for Drew Waters' return.

The former top Atlanta Braves prospect took Kansas City by storm in 2022 but petered off in 2023. Waters started the season on the IL with an oblique strain, not making his first MLB appearance until May 26. He saw plenty of action for the 106-loss squad, but his impact across his 98 games was a mixed bag.

His glove all across the outfield buoyed his 0.8 fWAR, while he struggled to replicate his 2022 success at the plate. His 31.8% strikeout rate was his downfall, dragging him down to 82 wRC+ and .228/.300/.377 line.

Waters did not break camp with the big-league club and hasn't returned to MLB action yet. Emphasis on yet.

The centerfielder started this season red-hot at the plate for the Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers. Through the season's first month, he looked like a player possessed, one hell-bent on proving the Royals made the wrong choice not having him on the Opening Day roster. But again, what has he done for Omaha lately? Let's look at his first and second months in Omaha.


Mar. 30-Apr. 30, 2024

May 1-May 31, 2024

Batting Average



On-Base Percentage



Slugging Percentage















Every player goes through hot and cold streaks, and Waters is not an exception to that rule. But, looking beyond the box score, Waters looks different, more easily tunneled in late May compared to his April form. His May finale, a three-strikeout game on May 31, just exemplified that perfectly. He looked overwhelmed against the Pittsburgh Pirates Triple-A affiliate. including leading off three different innings with an out.

Drew Waters is far from a sure success in Kansas City.

The results aren't the world's end, but the process raises red flags. Waters still struggles mightily against offspeed offerings, which matches his 2023 results. No one doubts his power. but much of May makes me question his hit tool once again. His struggles in hitter-friendly Werner Park cast even more doubt on his bat translating to the big leagues.

Still, something has to give. Waters may have red flags, but he at least offers a possible improvement in Kansas City's outfield. The possibility of Waters finding his groove again, while small, is more welcome than Kansas City maintaining the status quo this season.

If you take away nothing from this, hear me: be patient with Waters. Expecting him to join the Royals and immediately replicate his April results isn't fair or probable. He will likely not be the immediate solution in the outfield, something than fans expect him to be. Kansas City is making sure his next MLB stint is a lengthy one, ensuring he gets a fair shake to reestablish himself.

Just make sure you give Waters a fair shake too.

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