Examining the 3 best KC Royals leadoff options and why Dairon Blanco makes sense

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Dairon Blanco has excellent tools for hitting first

I get it, suggesting an option outside of Garcia to leadoff seems somewhat ridiculous. But, if Garcia isn't available for another reason or Kansas City wants the ol' ninth hitter as a secondary leadoff option, Blanco needs to be their guy.

I have talked ad nauseam about Blanco's breakout case for 2023, assuming he makes the Opening Day roster. His speed rivals Witt's and that shows up on the basepaths and in the field. Blanco is a plus defender amongst a group of below-average gloves in the Royals outfield. His arm may not be the strongest, but his speed covers Kauffman's center field well and he saw plenty of action in left field as well. There are other options above him in the pecking order, but he can play all three outfield spots.

Blanco's calling card is his base stealing, evident by swiping 24 bags in only 69 games. That sets an absurd 162-game pace of 56 stolen bases, which would have ranked third-most in the 2023 season. Blanco will likely never see 162 games of action, but he would arguably be the best pinch runner in the American League.

Blanco and Garcia are both righties, but Blanco offers better splits against right-handed pitchers. Blanco only had 96 plate appearances to Garcia's 399, but Blanco's 103 wRC+ was significantly better than Garcia's 76. Add on that the two walk and strike out at a similar rate, the differences between these two reside in the margins.

Blanco's future in Kansas City is in a weird place. He only has 75 career MLB games at age 30, thanks to a late start in the Oakland minor league system. Blanco feels like a prime trade candidate for a contending team, one in need of an outfielder with elite speed. But, while he remains on the Royals 40-man roster, they should look to get him as many plate appearances as possible.