KC Royals Projections: Second base is Michael Massey's to lose

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About this time a year ago, KC Royals infield prospect Michael Massey's budding reputation preceded him when he reported to the club's Surprise, Arizona spring training headquarters. Then 23 with only two professional seasons behind him, Massey was coming off a fine 2021 campaign at Double-A Northwest Arkansas where he slashed .289/.351/.531 with 21 homers, 87 RBIs, and 12 steals.

And in 2019, the year before minor league ball lost its season to the pandemic, he'd homered five times, driven in 25 runs, and hit .272 in Rookie ball after Kansas City picked him in the fourth round of the amateur draft.

Despite his good numbers and excellent glove, though, Massey starting last season in Kansas City was out of the question. He hadn't seen Triple-A and its better pitching yet and the Royals' infield was packed. Nicky Lopez seemed a lock at second base (Massey's primary position) after his offensively and defensively stellar 2021, Adalberto Mondesi was set to return after missing all but 35 games of that campaign, and nothing was going to stand in the way of Bobby Witt Jr.'s big league debut.

Perhaps that's why the Royals took a look, but not an exhaustive one, at Massey during last spring's abbreviated Cactus League schedule. But he made the most of the chances playing in less than the Royals' 16 games provided, going 5-for-13 (.385) with a pair of doubles and three runs scored.

While impressive, the performance didn't sway KC to bump him up to Triple-A. He returned instead to Northwest Arkansas, where a .305 average, nine home runs, and 48 RBIs in 54 games convinced the Royal brass he was finally ready for Omaha. A 33-game, .325/.392/.595 line, combined with seven homers, 29 RBIs and the August trade of Whit Merrifield, earned him a longer callup than the brief stint he received when 10 Royals' vaccination status prohibited them from playing a pre-All-Star Game series in Toronto.

How did Michael Massey perform after the KC Royals promoted him in August?

Kansas City had 58 games left when Massey joined the club in Chicago for an Aug, 3 contest against the White Sox. He missed only six of those games and finished with four homers, 17 RBIs, and a .243 average. The typically slick-gloved Massey played serviceably at second and quickly established himself as the Royals' regular second sacker.

Will he keep the job?

How FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference see Michael Massey's KC Royals season

FanGraphs (Depth Charts version) projects Massey will slash .254/.306/.407 with 12 homers and 52 RBIs in 448 PAs. Baseball-Reference predicts he'll homer seven times, drive in 30 runs, and slash .248/.314/.387 in 297 PAs.

How will Michael Massey actually perform for the KC Royals this year?

Expect Massey to outperform those FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference projections. He appears to be too good not to; chalk up his pedestrian 2022 work at the plate to trying to learn the tough big league ropes amidst the bleak atmosphere of a bad Kansas City season.

Considering his rookie play and last season's decline of Lopez, second base is Massey's position to lose, so he should be settled in by Opening Day. Offensively, look for a .265, if not better, average, and 15-20 homers. His glove will be better than his -3 OAA at second suggests it was in 2021.

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Kansas City second baseman Michael Massey had a decent rookie season. He'll be even better this year.