The KC Royals are reporting to Spring Training February 17th with the first full workout on February 18th. Here are the position players that are due for a bounce back season in 2020.
The cliché headlines set to follow the arrival of baseball players returning from the shortest offseason in professional sports always lead a fanbase to speculate on the promise of a new season. Returning players “in the best shape of their life” headlines are always exciting, but how often do they translate into a season’s worth of production?
Jorge Soler and Whit Merrifield are two of the most recent players on the Kansas City Royals roster to show up to Spring Training “in the best shape of their life” and translate their body transformation into exceptional production on the field.
The following players may not show up with the same kind of physical transformation, but have shown the skillset and ability to outperform their 2019 production.
Nicky Lopez (Second Base/Shortstop)
- 2019 stats – .240/.276/.325 with 26 extra base hits (2 home runs) worth -0.2 WAR (56 wRC+)
- 2019 AAA stats – .353/.457/.500 with 10 extra base hits (3 home runs) with 146 wRC+
- 2020 Steamer projection – .272/.326/.377 with 35 extra base hits (7 home runs) worth 1.3 WAR (85 wRC+)
Nicky Lopez is expected to show up to spring training “in the best shape of his life” after an offseason physical transformation where he added 18 pounds of upper body muscle. If the added strength helps Lopez tap into more gap power and home run power, then Lopez is a prime candidate to breakout offensively in 2020. Lopez made sure to continue to work on his defensive skills and agility while transforming his body and shouldn’t lose a step in the field.
Lopez struggled for the first three months after he was called up to the Royals major league roster in May. The progress he showed in August and his performance in September/October when he slashed .289/.333/.444 showed what he is truly capable of.
Lopez is capable of playing average to slightly above average defense at shortstop and is considered a plus defender at second base. If he is able to translate his offseason hard work, build on his success in the minors, and his late season performance in 2019, then the Royals will have above average second baseman for years to come.
Lopez possesses solid speed and good plate discipline to be future top of the lineup hitter in the future. With the potential of added offensive value, Lopez should bounce back from a less than stellar 2019 and possibly exceed his 2020 offensive projections.