Back in 2018, Ryan O’Hearn looked to be a part of a bright Kansas City Royals future. The former 2014 8th-round draft pick out of Sam Houston State appeared in 44 games during his rookie campaign but he made it count, slashing .262/.353/.597 for a .950 OPS that was 54 percent about league average. In under 150 at-bats, he collected 10 doubles, two triples, a dozen home runs and scored 23 times while driving in another 30 runs.
Collectively, he was worth 0.8 bWAR.
His future appeared bright.
It no longer looks that way.
There are a number of stats to point to, but here’s a glaring one: his OPS this season is .594, which is lower than his slugging percentage alone from 2018.
Now, to be fair to O’Hearn, he seems like an excellent fellow. Recently, when the Royals stormed back from down nine runs to defeat the Mariners 13-12 for the franchise’s biggest comeback ever, O’Hearn had perhaps the team’s biggest hit. Down a run in the sixth, he doubled in Edward Olivares and Michael Massey, giving the Royals a lead they would not relinquish.
Yesterday's Biggest Play: A double from @Royals RF Ryan O'Hearn.— Baseball Reference (@baseball_ref) September 26, 2022
Situation: Bottom 6th, 2 out, 1-1 count, Runners On 1st and 3rd
Score: SEA 11, KCR 10
KCR's win probability increased by 34%
KCR went on to win the game, 13-12#Royals | #TogetherRoyalpic.twitter.com/mQnfhIAb4n
After the game, he talked about the comeback and it meant to him, especially since it came in the last game of the season at Kauffman. He talked like a player who’s seen the writing on the wall, especially with the man who drafted him out the door. When he talked about “passing the torch,” it’s as though he did not expect to play again in Kansas City while wearing a Royals uniform.
He seems like an prime candidate for the Royals to non-tender this offseason. Aside from the shortened 2020 season, O’Hearn appeared in the least amount of games this season than any other in his career, and that includes getting the fewest at-bats. He did not make the most of it. While he didn’t post career-lows in on-base percentage (.285) or slugging percentage (.310), the numbers still weren’t good, and together, those figures did form his worst ever OPS, the aforementioned .594, which is 32 percent below league average.
He’s also a first baseman, designated hitter, and corner outfielder. The Royals are packed with those types of players, and the others are younger—and cheaper—than O’Hearn.
So, yes, O’Hearn’s time as a Kansas City Royal probably has come to an end. There’s a new(ish) regime in town with a strong possibility of more changes coming as soon as the season officially concludes.
Moving on from O’Hearn will be one of those changes.
But at least he left Kansas City on the highest of notes.
How would you grade Ryan O’Hearn’s 2022 season?
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