Worse: Outfielder Kyle Isbel
FanGraphs Projections: 118 games, .680 OPS, 90 wRC+, 1.3 WAR
The Royals won the 2015 World Series with defense, contact hitting, and speed. Outfielder Kyle Isble should fit right into that mold, but has failed to do so significantly in the major leagues.
Isbel has a below-average .642 OPS so far in the majors, but fans and the Royals organization already have him locked in as the center fielder of the future. Drew Waters was Isbel's primary competition in the corner outfield, but Water's injury will likely keep him out of the Opening Day lineup. After the Royals traded away Michael A. Taylor, there is no clear center field option outside of Isbel.
Isbel will be 26 years old by Opening Day 2023, bringing his long-term fit with the Royals into question. The Royals may not contend for a .500 record this year, so the team will not have much patience for Isbel. He still has two minor league options with the Royals, allowing the team a lot of flexibility with Isbel. If he stumbles either offensively or defensively, the Royals have some new otpionsoptions to explore in the outfield.
Isbel's progressive projections at the plate require him to draw more walks and drop the strikeouts. While that is a natural improvement, the results are uncertain. His name has not come up much this offseason as an improving player or one in the Royals' future. He can change that narrative after some strong spring training performances, but his path to improvement remains cloudy at this point.