Welcome to the first of our KC Royals player projections for the 2024 season. Starting today and continuing for the next few weeks, we'll be reviewing how various Royals performed last year and predicting how they might do this season. Up first is catcher Freddy Fermin.
Freddy Fermin played his first three major league games in 2022, but only because the vaccination status of several Royals prevented them from traveling to Toronto for a mid-July series. He was among the minor leaguers picked to get the club through that trip, but who returned to the minors when it was over. Good news, however, came to Fermin last April. That's when Kansas City recalled him from Triple-A Omaha.
Fermin's second trip to the majors was better than his first, but not by much — he went 1-for-7 in three games, which barely surpassed in quality his 0-for-7 effort in as many games in Canada. He was back in Omaha a week later.
Then came the flurry of roster moves Kansas City made May 2, and with them Fermin's third shot at the big leagues. This time, he made it count.
Freddy Fermin had an excellent rookie campaign for the Royals
Because he'd played only three big league games before last season, Fermin was officially still a rookie when he returned to Kansas City in May, but didn't play like so many rookies do. Although a finger fracture ended his season in September, he finished the year slashing .281/.321/.461 with nine homers, 32 RBIs, a 108 wRC+, and 1.5 fWAR in 70 games. He also gunned down 31% of would-be base stealers, which was better than Salvador Perez's uncharacteristically-low 14% and 10 points better than league average.
All in all, Fermin established himself as a more than adequate backup for Perez, and clearly deserved the A grade we gave him after the season.
Now, what about this season?
How FanGraphs projects Freddy Fermin's 2024 Kansas City season
FanGraphs (Depth Charts version) suggests Fermin's 2024 won't be as good as his 2023, predicting he'll homer seven times, drive in 26 runs, slash .252/.318/.408, post a 96 wRC+, and finish with an 0.9 fWAR.
How will Freddy Fermin actually perform for the KC Royals this year?
Fermin won't displace Perez this season, but he'll serve again as an excellent backup backstop for the club. Barring another sidelining injury, expect him to play more than he did in 2023, especially if the Royals continue deploying Perez more at first base and at DH.
His numbers? After getting his share of at-bats last season, look for Fermin's production to increase. He should reach double-digits in homers (approaching 15 isn't out of the question); anything lower than a .270 average would be surprising. And when he's behind the plate, he'll continue to be a solid threat to anyone who tries to run on him.
Fermin's 2024 should be good to him.