Welcome back to our Kings of Kauffman offseason series analyzing the 2023 performances of various KC Royals players. Today, we take a look at Nelson Velázquez.
Nelson Velázquez was no stranger to the major leagues when the Royals suddenly swung a trade deadline deal that brought him to Kansas City from the Cubs. After all, he'd played 77 times for Chicago in 2022, and 13 for them in 2023 before the Royals landed him July 31 in exchange for pitcher José Cuas.
That didn't mean, though, that his was a familiar name around Kansas City. Velázquez, who the Cubs picked up in the fifth round of the 2017 amateur draft, had done little to distinguish himself — he hit .205 with six home runs in those 77 games two seasons ago, and .241 with three homers for the Cubs in 2023.
But Royals fans immediately sat up and took notice of Velázquez's power when the Royals, who'd sent him to Triple-A Omaha after the Cuas trade, called him back to the majors in mid-August.
Nelson Velázquez put on a power show down the stretch
Velázquez homered four times and hit .348 (8-for-23) in his first seven games as a Royal and ended August with five homers. Combined with the three round-trippers he slammed as a Cub, those five gave him eight in 30 games.
The new KC outfielder-designated hitter's early September outings closely resembled his first few August games — he clubbed four homers in his first four contests of the season's last full month. He also drove in nine runs and was 8-for-24 in that half-dozen game span.
Velázquez homered five more times, and knocked in 11 more runs, before playing his final game Sept. 30; he finished the 40-game Kansas City portion of the campaign with an impressive 14 home runs and 28 RBIs. And he made one error in 57 outfield chances.
Still, he could have been better at the plate. He hit only .233 for the Royals (.177 — 6-for-34 — with runners in scoring position) and his .299 OBP requires improvement. Between the Cubs and Kansas City, he slashed .235/.302/.586.
What grade should Nelson Velázquez get for his time with the Royals?
Velázquez's home runs were good for Kansas City and his outfield defense was adequate. Considering only those criteria, he'd have merited a B+ or perhaps even an A-. But his other offensive numbers pull him down to a B.