Before starting play today, MJ Melendez had hit leadoff for the Royals in 56 games this season, second only to Whit Merrifield. While Melendez knows how to take a walk, a good skill for a leadoff hitter, his on-base-percentage is merely league average. Mike Matheny’s penchant for penciling him in there (24 straight games and counting) is perhaps not the best fit for him or the team. The Royals lineup next year could be really exciting! However, if the team is more data driven in 2023 (as promised), then they should consider reshuffling the lineup. In my opinion, it would be ideal to cluster the high OBP and above average hitters at the top. For example, Olivares would be an intriguing option in the leadoff position. In limited usage, Nate Eaton has a higher OBP than Melendez, which is why I slotted him hitting second. I would move Witt down to fifth in the order until he arrives at a league-average OBP. And his ability to hit for power might play better in the middle of the order anyway. Melendez hitting sixth really lengthens the lineup. The bottom third of the batting order would have some pop. I have Pratto batting ninth because he is a significantly below league average hitter and is the only batter in the proposed lineup that has produced negative WAR on the season.
Unfortunately, three veterans have produced negative WAR this season. They need to be shipped off in a trade, if possible. They are obviously dead weight. If the Royals can’t deal them in a trade, then they should be DFAed. The one veteran that is the exception is Michael A. Taylor, whose WAR leads the Royals this season. He has legit trade value and it should be a priority to trade him this off season for some decent prospects.
What do you think of this lineup for next year Royals fans? What changes would you make to improve it?