The Royals Need an Entire Outfield

Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

Recently there's been discussion here at RR about the Royals' need for a center fielder in 2022. Today I was perusing fan graphs' WAR list by team/position, and here is what my "research" (haha) uncovered, with the teams rank in MLB in parentheses:

Royals LF so far in 2021: .4 WAR (24/30)

Royals CF so far in 2021: 1.1 WAR (22/30)

Royals RF so far in 2021: -2.2 WAR (30/30)

Royals OF so far in 2021: -.7 WAR (30/30)

Per fWAR, the Royals have had the worst outfield in baseball. By contrast, the division-leading White Sox have gotten 8 wins from their OF so far. So here's my hot take: to be good in 2022, the Royals would need an entirely new outfield. Where is this entirely new outfield going to come from? CF has been covered recently, and it is definitely a problem. MAT is a good 4th outfielder but not a solution as a starter.

But the OF corners are at least as much of a problem. Merrifield's 95 WRC+ looks great with his Gold Glove defense at second base; with league average corner outfield defense, that same batting line is less valuable. So I don't favor moving him back out to the grass. Other in-house options look...bad. Here they are:

  1. Hope that Dozier has a bounce-back year at the plate and can be adequate defensively in RF
  2. Hope Benintendi remembers how to be a good all-around player
  3. Hope Kyle Isbel can suddenly be a league-average starter
  4. Hope Edward Olivares can suddenly be a league-average starter
I do not think any of 1-4 are very likely. Maybe you could hope that out of these 4 options you might get one league average corner outfielder in 2022, although tbh I wouldn't bet on it. But that leaves CF and the other corner to be filled.

So where's the new outfield going to come from? It's gotta be trades and free agency, right? Wishcasting on current in-house options is not going to get it done, and signing one free agent is not going to get it done either. We're a far cry from the glory days of Cain/Gordon/Dyson. We can judge how serious the front office is about competing in 2022 by how they address the OF in the offseason.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.