How should the Royals lineup on Opening Day?

There have been a few lineups that the Royals have rolled out during Spring Training so far that have really piqued my interest. I love that they’ve had Bobby Witt Jr. in the two-hole several times. I love that Kyle Isbel has been batting leadoff. I hate how much Ryan O’Hearn has been hitting in the middle of the order. The Royals will probably roll out a very predictable lineup on Opening Day this year, but I figured it could be a fun experiment to kind of look at all the different ways they *could* line up if they wanted to get creative. First, let’s take a look at what the Opening Day lineup will *probably* most resemble on Opening Day:

  1. Whit Merrifield, RF
  2. Nicky Lopez, 2B
  3. Salvador Perez, C
  4. Carlos Santana, 1B
  5. Andrew Benintendi, LF
  6. Hunter Dozier, DH
  7. Adalberto Mondesi, SS
  8. Bobby Witt, Jr., 3B
  9. Michael A. Taylor, CF

There’s a few different variations of that lineup that include Benintendi hitting third, Perez hitting fourth, Bobby Witt Jr. hitting something like sixth or seventh, but you get the gist of the idea. That is, unfortunately, probably the most likely lineup for the Royals on Opening Day, even though it could be so much more fun than that if they’d let it be. Here’s how the Royals would lineup if Mike Matheny handed the lineup card to me:

  1. Kyle Isbel, CF
  2. Bobby Witt, Jr., 3B
  3. Salvador Perez, C
  4. Carlos Santana, 1B
  5. Andrew Benintendi, LF
  6. Whit Merrifield, RF
  7. Adalberto Mondesi, SS
  8. Hunter Dozier, DH
  9. Nicky Lopez, 2B

Now that’s more like it. I’m trying to be realistic and assume that Vinnie Pasquantino isn’t going to make the big league roster on Opening Day, but if I REALLY had all the power, he’d be my first baseman batting eighth and Carlos Santana would be my DH. I think analytics have done a good job of debunking the idea that your best hitter should at third, so I’d bat Bobby Witt Jr. in the two-hole and let the huge power, low OBP guy bat third in Salvador Perez, followed by a big OBP guy in the cleanup spot in Carlos Santana. I know there will be some folks who don’t like where I have Whit Merrifield, but his bat has been objectively on the decline and it might be good to sandwich him in between a solid producer and a wildcard with a ton of power.

Using 2022 ZiPS projections on FanGraphs, and the lineup analysis tool on Baseball Musings, here’s how a perfectly analytical Royals team would line up on Opening Day (disclaimer: I do not necessarily support this):

  1. Carlos Santana, 1B
  2. Bobby Witt, Jr., 3B
  3. Whit Merrifield, RF
  4. Salvador Perez, C
  5. Andrew Benintendi, LF
  6. Adalberto Mondesi, SS
  7. Hunter Dozier, DH
  8. Kyle Isbel, CF
  9. Nicky Lopez, 2B

Baseball Musings thinks with the ZiPS projections that this team could score over 4.5 runs per game. I should also add that the ZiPS projections think that Vinnie Pasquantino, Nick Pratto, and MJ Melendez will be three of the Royals six best hitters in 2022 so, even though I did not include them, I would absolutely have them in there if I thought it was a reasonable take.

If I could play GM and Manager for a day…

  1. Kyle Isbel, CF
  2. Bobby Witt, Jr., 3B
  3. Salvador Perez/MJ Melendez, C
  4. Andrew Benintendi, LF
  5. Vinnie Pasquantino/MJ Melendez, DH
  6. Whit Merrifield, RF
  7. Nick Pratto, 1B
  8. Adalberto Mondesi, SS
  9. Nicky Lopez, 2B

I don’t know how you get Melendez, Pratto, and Pasquantino in the same lineup with moving Benintendi at the moment. So, someone has to sit, but I would be looking for reasons to move Santana and Benintendi so that I could play my young kids as much as possible. I am so excited for what this lineup might look like on August 1st. This team is going to be so much fun to watch pretty quickly.

So there you go. I have no idea what the Royals are gonna do on Opening Day. I want Kyle Isbel in the lineup. That’s the only thing I’m really adamant about that is both realistic and still may not happen right away. I want to hear from you, though. How would you line the Royals up on Opening Day?

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2 thoughts on “How should the Royals lineup on Opening Day?

  1. I will take my manager for a day on June 1, 2022. Santana will have been traded and Melendez and Pratto just recalled from Omaha. Pasquantino has just been promoted to Omaha from NWArk. So here is my lineup–Merrifield-2b–Lopez-ss–Perez-C-dh–Benintendi-LF(trade-if possible)–Witt, jr. cf (I can hope), Melendez dh-c–Mondesi-3b–Pratto-1b—Isbel-rf. This plan is to set up the team to contend for the 6 year period starting 2023. I want to be sure our defense is very good to help the young pitchers.

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  2. I’m not leaving a gold glove winning CF sit on the bench for Isbel. I’ll suffer the lack of bat for elite defense. After all that’s how this team is built.

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