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Around the horn, who makes the opening day roster, a spring training look. 

A prediction for the Kansas City Royals starting defensive lineup.

Head shot day one

The Royals are bringing back a lot of the same names. Royals fans will recognize most of these players projected to make the opening-day roster. All of them spent time with Kansas City last season.  

A few positions to point out are the position of left field. MJ Melendez is on the roster as a catcher but last season he spent significant time in left field. The Royals have a lot of depth at the catcher position but lackluster players that can play in the outfield. Melendez played 38 total games in the outfield with 23 of those in left field. He was a below-average left fielder getting a negative three-runs saved metric.

Defensive runs saved is a metric that gives an average player a zero score and more accurately describes a player’s abilities than just looking at individual stats like fielding percentages or errors. It is reasonable for Melendez to improve in left field as the year goes on. 

Melendez will spend time this year in the backup catcher role to allow Salvador Perez to DH but he will spend more as the Royals left fielder. 

Who is playing center field gets simplified with the recent report that Drew Waters is going to miss six weeks with an oblique injury. With Waters out Edward Olivares will play right field. when Waters comes back there are two options for the Royals. They can simply put Waters in right and move Olivares into a permanent DH role or they move Waters to center, put Isabel to right, and keep Olivares in DH. If the organization wants and believes Waters to be the centerfielder of the future he will play center.

On the infield, Perez is the lock for starting catcher. There will be opportunities for other players to come in and play catcher as the year goes on. In both the 2021 and 2022 seasons Perez has played exactly 40 games in the designated hitter role.

Vinnie Pasquantino is also a lock at first base. Baseball Savant gives his above-average advanced metrics for his offensive production.  Pasquantino walks at a higher rate (11.7%) when compared to the rest of the MLB (8.4%). He strikes out at a lower rate (11.4%) than the rest of the MLB (22.1%.) When he makes contact with the ball he hits the ball harder and with more control with a high barrel percentage.  With the elimination of the shift, he could see more hits as he has a tendency to pull the ball to the right side of the field. He is not a liability in the field and is a solid offensive piece. For these reasons, he will be the starting first baseman 

Second base, shortstop, and third base all depend on what the organization wants to do with Hunter Dozier. As of now, there is no indication the Royals want to move on from Dozier so, he is likely to get the start at third. His starting at third keeps Bobby Whitt Jr. at shortstop and Nicky Lopez at second base.

If Dozier gets taken off the starting lineup, Whitt moves to third base, Lopez moves to shortstop and Michael Massey gets to start at second base. 

Lopez has a guaranteed spot because of his defensive value. Bobby Whitt Jr. was not only the Royals’ top prospect heading into last year but he was a top prospect in all of baseball. There is no question about them being on the starting lineup heading into the season. 

Non-starting guys will get significant playing time as the season goes on, and Michael Massey will get time playing second base. Nate Eaton and Edward Olivares will both get time playing different roles in the outfield.

Nick Prato is currently not listed on the Royals’ depth chart but could be a call-up as the season progresses. He is listed as a first baseman but Pasquantino has that position locked up.

Injuries could impact any of these predictions moving forward. The bigger question is going to the pitching staff that had a lot of change during the offseason.


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