Pitchers and catchers are reporting to Spring Training for the Royals in Surprise, Ariz. today, which means baseball season is upon us. In honor of the new season, below you will find our list of 10 bold predictions for the 2019 Kansas City Royals season. From a new milestone for Danny Duffy to Adalberto Mondesi accomplishing a feat that just three others have in the history of baseball, we cover all the bases on our list.
As always, check out www.ticketsforless.com for the best selection of Spring Training and regular season tickets for your Boys in Blue this season. The Royals will be looking to improve upon a tough rebuilding season in 2018 and will look to do so with a young pitching staff and a defense built on speed. With Whit Merrifield locked in for four more years and speeders Adalberto Mondesi and Billy Hamilton in the lineup, strong defense and baserunning could be key factors in many Royals wins this season.
Without further ado, here are our Ten Bold Predictions for the 2019 Kansas City Royals (with a bonus prediction at the end):
1. Jakob Junis will lead the Royals in wins
This may not be the “boldest” of predictions with Junis clearly being the most consistent pitcher for the Royals over the past season and a half, but Junis survived his sophomore season extremely well. With that, he should be poised for a breakout year in 2019.
Prediction: 16-11 | 3.90 ERA | 190+ IP
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2. Adalberto Mondesi will become the fourth player in Major League history to record a 20-home run & 60 stolen base season
Mondesi first broke into the major leagues for the Royals during the World Series in 2015, and he has yet to put a full season of service together. This prediction does not feel that far-fetched, even with Mondesi never playing a full season in the bigs.
He hit 14 home runs and stole 32 bases while hitting .276 over 75 games last season and is poised to break out in 2019. With the Royals building the roster on speed, and with Mondesi possessing the best speed in the game, 60 stolen bases feels like it could be easy. The 20 home runs could be tougher for Mondesi, who has struggled with his plate discipline in his first 450 MLB at-bats.
Prediction: .258 | 21 HR | 62 RBI | 66 SB
3. The Royals will lead Major League Baseball in stolen bases
As stated before, the Royals have constructed a roster full of speed as they will focus on speed and defense in 2019. With Whit Merrifield, Adalberto Mondesi and Billy Hamilton all projected into the starting lineup, the Royals could potentially have three of the top ten base stealers in the league.
Along with that trio, the Royals also have Alex Gordon, Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier slated to start. Each of those players have relatively high stolen base percentages in their career. We also cannot forget that Terrance Gore and Chris Owings are waiting on the bench to enter games late for the sole purpose of stealing bases.
Prediction: Mondesi (66) and Merrifield (36) finish in the top three in stolen bases for Kansas City. Hamilton finishes the season with 40+, but they will not all come with the Royals
4. Danny Duffy will top 180 innings pitched for the first time in his career
The 2018 season was not the best for Duffy (155 IP, 4.88 ERA), but the 30-year old lefty has vowed to turn things around in 2019. Emotions of a rough start to the season and nagging injuries seemed to bother Duffy last season, so as long as he is healthy in 2019, we have no reason to doubt a man that has famously said, “Bury me a Royal.”
Prediction: 13-10 | 4.25 ERA | 185 IP
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5. Nicky Lopez will be the everyday second baseman by September 1st
This prediction may not have been so bold before the signing of Whit Merrifield at the end of January, but even with that signing this seems the most logical option for the Royals. Lopez has performed well at all levels of the minor leagues, and he projects to be up with the Royals in the second half. Even with Merrifield signed for four years, he is versatile enough to move to any of the outfield positions and not miss a beat.
Imagine if Mondesi becomes the player the Royals believe he can, and then Lopez comes in and shows he is an everyday player. The middle infield of the future could be here by mid-August, Royals fans.
Prediction: Lopez gets called up after the Royals trade Billy Hamilton in July. Merrifield moves to center, and Lopez takes over at second base
6. Ryan O’Hearn will lead the Royals in home runs
O’Hearn had a strong debut for the Royals in 2018, blasting 12 home runs in 44 games down the stretch. One of the biggest fears for O’Hearn was his strikeout probability, and while he struck out 45 times in 149 at bats, he also drew 20 walks a season ago.
O’Hearn has a chance to earn the starting job at first base for the entire 2019 season, and if he can improve his plate discipline even just slightly, he has a chance to be a .250 hitter with 30+ home run potential.
Prediction: .241 | 31 HR | 78 RBI
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7. Whit Merrifield will join Salvador Perez on the AL All-Star Team
It has been argued that Royals fans have taken for granted the value that Whit Merrifield has added to the team over the past two seasons. If that is true, that means the league has not given Merrifield his due, either. The newly signed Merrifield deserved an all-star spot last season, and it feels like 2019 will be the year he finally picks up his first nod to the “Midsummer Classic.”
Nobody has more hits or stolen bases than Merrifield over the past two seasons, so if he can continue that pace, it would be next to impossible to leave him off of the all-star team…again.
Prediction: Merrifield makes his first all-star game appearance while Salvador Perez makes his seventh straight
8. Jorge Soler will hit 20+ home runs
Not much has gone according to plan for Soler in his career due to health issues, but 2019 is the year it will finally come together. Soler never got his opportunity to shine in his days with the Cubs in a crowded outfield and he has never been healthy enough for an extended look in Kansas City.
In 61 games in 2018, Soler batted .265 with nine home runs and 28 runs batted in before an injury ended his season on June 15. Soler has never played more than 101 games in a season in his career, but barring another injury he is slated to start in right field and/or DH all season. IF healthy, look for a breakout year for Soler.
Prediction: .255 | 26 HR | 75 RBI
9. Whit Merrifield will record his first 200-hit season
Whit Merrifield has put together back-to-back remarkable seasons for the Royals, and with a new four-year contract signed, there are no signs of slowing down. Merrifield will likely never project to hit 20+ home runs or drive in 100 runs in a season, but he will always give his team solid at-bats no matter where he hits in the lineup.
Merrifield has 361 hits, 31 home runs, 138 RBI and 168 runs scored over the last two seasons with an OBP north of .340 in that span. Look for that to continue in 2019, but with Merrifield finally pushing past 200 hits in a season.
Prediction: 207 Hits | .302 Avg | 92 Runs | 36 SBs
10. Alex Gordon will hit a regular season home run in Omaha
No, we are not predicting that Gordon gets sent back down to AAA! If you have not heard, the Royals will be “hosting” the Tigers in a Major League game on June 13 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb. The game will be played a day before the opening of the College World Series. A main reason this game is being played in Omaha is due to an initiative brought forward by Major League Baseball, but you have to imagine a big reason the Royals agreed to play this game in Omaha is Alex Gordon.
Gordon was born in Lincoln, Neb. and played for the Nebraska Cornhuskers in college. He led the Huskers to the 2005 College World Series in Omaha before being drafted by Kansas City that same year. It only seems fitting that Gordon would have a big day in the first ever major league game in the state of Nebraska.
Prediction: 3-for-5, HR, 2B, 3 RBI and one defensive gem in left field
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BONUS: Kyle Zimmer makes 20+ appearances for the Royals
Royals fans long dreamed of Zimmer headlining the rotation for years, but injuries have derailed his once promising career. Zimmer became a free agent after 2018, but the Royals still believe in Zimmer in some capacity. With the signing there is a good chance he is on the Opening Day roster if he is healthy.
If Zimmer is healthy, he will likely become a piece in Kansas City’s bullpen puzzle. With his stuff, he could follow in the footsteps of former Royal Luke Hochevar and solidify himself into a backend role in the pen.
Prediction: 29 Appearances (3 spot starts)
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There you have it. Our 10 bold predictions for the 2019 Kansas City Royals. We would love to hear your thoughts on our list. What do you agree with? Does anything sound too crazy? What are your predictions? Feel free to leave your comments below.