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2021 Season in Review: Edward Olivares

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An eventful summer for Olivares, to be sure

Seattle, Washington, USA; Kansas City Royals right fielder Edward Olivares (14) hits an RBI-sacrifice fly against the Seattle Mariners during the tenth inning at T-Mobile Park. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson
Seattle, Washington, USA; Kansas City Royals right fielder Edward Olivares (14) hits an RBI-sacrifice fly against the Seattle Mariners during the tenth inning at T-Mobile Park. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
  • March 11, 2021: Kansas City Royals optioned RF Edward Olivares to Omaha Storm Chasers.

When rebuilding Major League Baseball teams sign a seemingly over-the-hill veteran for pennies on the dollar, they do so in the hope for what the Kansas City Royals got out of Trevor Rosenthal. The former St. Louis Cardinals closer pitched a meager 13.2 innings for Kansas City but did so well that he became one of the top rental arms on the trade market.

  • March 29, 2021: RF Edward Olivares assigned to Royals Alternate Training Site from Omaha Storm Chasers.

So, the Royals did what they’ve done a lot these days: they made a deal with the San Diego Padres.

  • April 29, 2021: RF Edward Olivares assigned to Omaha Storm Chasers from Royals Alternate Training Site.

In exchange for a month of Rosenthal, the Padres sent over Dylan Coleman and Edward Olivares. Due to pandemic-related shenanigans, Olivares never played in Triple-A, making the jump from Double-A to the big leagues for the Padres.

  • May 30, 2021: Kansas City Royals recalled RF Edward Olivares from Omaha Storm Chasers.

Olvares spent 18 games and 65 plate appearances for the Royals last year, doing alright.

  • June 3, 2021: Kansas City Royals optioned RF Edward Olivares to Omaha Storm Chasers.

When 2021 rolled around, Olivares’ spot on the big league roster was filled by Kyle Isbel, an ascendant talent in the farm system. So, Olivares went to Triple-A for the first time, playing for the Storm Chasers.

  • June 6, 2021: Kansas City Royals recalled RF Edward Olivares from Omaha Storm Chasers.

Olivares was nothing but dominant in Triple-A. On the year—across 66 games and 292 plate appearances—”Big O”, as he was known, managed a triple slash of .313/.397/.559 with 15 home runs.

  • June 9, 2021: Kansas City Royals optioned RF Edward Olivares to Omaha Storm Chasers.

Overall, his wRC+ was 155, and Olivares was undeniably one of the best hitters in the league.

  • June 14, 2021: Kansas City Royals recalled RF Edward Olivares from Omaha Storm Chasers.

And when he was hot, he was really hot. From the Storm Chasers’ game on May 4 through May 23, Olivares put up a triple slash of .406/.488/.696 in 80 plate appearances.

The dugout doing Jan’s “Big O” celebration for Edward Olivares’s home run
The dugout doing Jan’s “Big O” celebration for Edward Olivares’s home run
Minda Haas Kuhlmann

When he was in the big leagues, though, Olivares was unable to achieve similar success.

  • June 17, 2021: Kansas City Royals optioned RF Edward Olivares to Omaha Storm Chasers.

Over 39 games and 111 plate appearances, Olivares slashed .238/.291/.406 for a wRC+ of 88, or 12% below league average production. The large, 6’2” outfielder showed very good power, as this home run shows.

  • June 30, 2021: Kansas City Royals recalled RF Edward Olivares from Omaha Storm Chasers.

His first of the season, Olivares utilized his above average bat control by keeping his hands inside enough to destroy an up-and-in pitch over the Royals bullpen at an exit velocity of 102.7 MPH.

Olivares was undeniably unlucky, as his BABIP of .244 was quite low. Still, Olivares only walked 4.5% of the time.

  • July 4, 2021: Kansas City Royals optioned RF Edward Olivares to Omaha Storm Chasers.

That Salvador Perez-ian figure just isn’t sustainable unless you have elite power (like Perez himself) or a high enough batting average so that it doesn’t matter quite as much (like, say, Javier Baez).

  • July 31, 2021: Kansas City Royals recalled RF Edward Olivares from Omaha Storm Chasers.

The other issue with Olivares was his defense. Plenty of MLB players get by with subpar or flawed offense with good defense.

  • August 10, 2021: Kansas City Royals optioned RF Edward Olivares to Omaha Storm Chasers.

Olivares has the tools to be a good defensive outfielder—Statcast ranks him in the 96th percentile of all MLB players in sprint speed—but tools don’t always line up completely with production, as this ridiculous and unforced error shows.

In 243.1 outfield innings this year, Olivares graded out by Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating as...perfectly average, with a 0 DRS and a 0.1 UZR. But Olivares doesn’t usually pass the eye test.

  • August 27, 2021: Kansas City Royals recalled RF Edward Olivares from Omaha Storm Chasers.

He’s quick but not particularly efficient and tends to make boneheaded mistakes for no apparent reason. That’s a big knock on a guy whose ceiling is probably a fourth outfielder.

  • September 17, 2021: Kansas City Royals optioned RF Edward Olivares to Omaha Storm Chasers.

The main thing going for Olivares is his age. He’ll turn 26 next March, making him a year younger than Nicky Lopez and a whopping five months older than the “youngster” Brady Singer.

  • September 20, 2021: Kansas City Royals recalled RF Edward Olivares from Omaha Storm Chasers.

He’s under team control for years, and at the very least will probably be a lock to spend at least some time in Kansas City for the next few years—at least until his options run out.

Edward Olivares
Edward Olivares
Minda Haas Kuhlmann

Ultimately, though, you’ve got to wonder just how much Olivares will play in the Royals’ plans, as they clearly don’t feel super stoked about Olivares even though his minor league production is off the charts.

  • September 21, 2021: Kansas City Royals optioned RF Edward Olivares to Omaha Storm Chasers.

The Royals’ outfield is pretty crowded right now—Isbel, Michael A. Taylor, and Andrew Benintendi are the starters next year.

  • September 24, 2021: Kansas City Royals recalled RF Edward Olivares from Omaha Storm Chasers.

Whit Merrifield and Hunter Dozier will probably spend some time in the outfield. Kansas City could also get another veteran a la Jarrod Dyson or make a play for a young, talented center fielder.

  • September 28, 2021: Kansas City Royals optioned RF Edward Olivares to Omaha Storm Chasers.

But hey, who knows? The Royals don’t have a top-notch outfielder in the minor leagues. Olivares has time to carve out his role and we’ll see him more.

Edward Olivares’ Season Grade

If we’re being honest here, I really have no idea what to grade Olivares. He didn’t spend enough time in Kansas City to really make a mark, yet he clearly didn’t do enough to earn a more secure spot. So...C, maybe? What do you think?

Poll

What would you rate Nicky Lopez’s 2021 season?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    A+
    (157 votes)
  • 41%
    A
    (144 votes)
  • 11%
    B+
    (38 votes)
  • 1%
    B
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    C+
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    C
    (0 votes)
343 votes total Vote Now