2020 MLB Preview: Kansas City Royals
At least the Royals won’t lose 100 games again. That’s about the only good thing to be said for COVID-19. Second baseman Whit Merifield (.302 average, 16 homers, 41 doubles) is a saint for signing up for another round of this. Outfielder Jorge Soler led the league in home runs and Adalberto Mondesi had 43 steals. But they still finished near the bottom in most offensive categories, second only to the truly-terrible Detroit Tigers.
They need Ryan O’Hearn to step up at first base. He hit 195. The job is his if he can handle it. Lucas Duda hit .177 last year.
Fun fact: the lowest earned run average of anyone on the Royals in 2019 was 3.41. News flash: that’s not a good thing. How fast they can build something around Merifield and Soler depends on young pitching.
Brady Singer, Daniel Lynch and Jackson Kowar all looked pretty solid in AA (ERAs around 3.5, base runners-allowed under 1.30, three-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio. But they’re a couple years from being ready for the big time. Not playing doesn’t help them, Merifield or anyone else for that matter.
If all goes perfectly Kansas City will be back to .500 in 2023. Merifield will be 33 them and still in his prime, most likely. For now he’ll have to suffer through a 67-win-caliber team and the growing pains of promising infielders Kelvin Gutierrez (.260) and Nicky Lopez (.240) as well as catcher Meibrys Viloria (.211) and wait for pitching help.
Coronavirus 60-game prediction: 22-38.
Beer and baseball have gotten along famously for a couple hundred years. Check out the dark, soothing goodness that stouts have to offer in these troubling times, while hopefully laughing your tail off at stoutcast.com.