Where is Michael Massey headed with the KC Royals?

The second baseman faces injury and competition.

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Welcome back to Kings of Kauffman's 2024 KC Royals player projection series. Between now and Opening Day, we'll be reviewing the 2023 performances of various Royals and predicting how they'll fare this season. Up today is second baseman Michael Massey.

Incumbent Kansas City second baseman Michael Massey reported to spring training last month with his starting spot not entirely secure. It was an unusual position for a player who's been a starter most of his short big league career, but an understandable one given the soft .229/.274/.381 line he posted last season.

Massey had no one to blame but himself for the predicament that performance put him in. Yes, a hand laceration forced him out of action for a couple of midseason weeks, but the .217 he was hitting when it sidelined him and the .235 he batted after he returned make it difficult to assign much of the blame to injury.

Further complicating Massey's situation was the Royals' late January acquisition of veteran utility man Adam Frazier, most of whose decent eight-year big league career has been spent at second base. And the presence in camp of Nick Loftin, the organization's second-best prospect per MLB Pipeline who's definitely capable of playing the keystone, didn't help Massey's cause.

So, what's Massey's status with Thursday's Opening Day right around the corner? Uncertain, to say the least — while Massey started well but cooled down to a .233 Cactus League finish, Loftin hit .333, collected a pair of homers, drew eight walks, and has made the club. And back stiffness is keeping Massey out of action; he hasn't played since March 16, and it looks like he'll begin the season on the Injured List.

All that, of course, begs the Massey Question, and increases speculation concerning his status for the 2024 season.

What will happen?

How FanGraphs projects Michael Massey's 2024 season

FanGraphs (Depth Charts) predicts Massey will be better in some areas, but not others — his line will improve to .254/.305/.415 and last season's 0.5 fWAR will jump to 1.1, but his home run production will drop from 15 to 12 and he'll drive in 45 runs, 10 less than he did last year.

How will Michael Massey actually perform for the KC Royals?

Unless Loftin fares so spectularly well that the club can't afford to move him to the bench when Massey returns, expect the latter to take over second when his back problem clears up. But he'll have to hit better to keep the job — the Royals need more consistent production from the position than Massey has so far delivered.

Can he do that? Time will tell, but it's hard to see Massey batting better than .260-.270, and hitting many more homers than the 15 he clubbed in 2023. If he starts slowly and his average is below .250 when the season hits mid-May, don't be surprised if Loftin becomes Kansas City's regular second baseman.

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