The Kansas City Royals are a prime example that organizations must enjoy those windows of contention as much as possible.
After reaching the World Series in 2014 and 2015 – which included winning KC’s first title since 1985 in their second trip – they’ve fallen on hard times. They followed that success with 81-win and 80-win campaigns before the wheels officially fell off.
Eric Hosmer is in San Diego. Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas are both in Milwaukee. To top it off, the Royals are currently suffering through their first 100-loss season since 2006. The rebuilding process doesn’t appear to be a quick one for general manager Dayton Moore and company, but there is one bright spot in 23-year-old middle infielder Adalberto Mondesi.
Since making his season debut on June 17th, the young switch-hitter has put together quite an intriguing stat line. Entering Tuesday’s games, he owned a .287/.310/.498 triple slash through 264 plate appearances (69 games, nice), which has helped lead to a 116 wRC+ and 2.4 fWAR.
The most intriguing part, though, is that he’s slugged 12 home runs while stealing 26 bases in the process. As The Athletic‘s Jayson Stark points out, Mondesi has flashed his potential in a short period of time like few before him.
This has happened after mostly struggling through parts of two big league seasons with Kansas City, too. Through his first 209 plate appearances between 2016 and 2017, he owned a .181/.226/.271 line with three homers and 14 stolen bases, leading to a 29 wRC+ and -0.8 fWAR.
While Mondesi’s walk rate has decreased this season (4.3% entering 2018, 3.0% currently), his strikeout rate has taken a significant step in the right direction (33.5% to 26.1%). He’s also been much more aggressive on pitches in the strike zone, which is partially responsible for a huge jump in quality of contact.
In those first 209 plate major-league appearances, the 23-year-old owned a 29.7% hard-hit rate. In the 264 trips that followed, it’s skyrocketed to 43.0%.
This better overall contact has also showed up when broken down by batted-ball event. Although his hard-hit rate on fly balls (42.4%) is on track to be a career-low mark, he’s seen more drastic increases in line-drive rate (20.0% to 65.8%) and ground-ball rate (10.0% to 35.7%) when compared to last year.
Mondesi has shown a significant leap in his development at the big-league level, and there’s still plenty of growing to do based on his age. So this is certainly a welcome sight for the Royals. They’ve begun the the arduous process of rebuilding for the club’s next wave of competitive teams, but there at least seems to be a legitimate centerpiece among the position players for years to come.
About Matt Musico
Matt currently manages Chin Music Baseball and contributes to The Sports Daily. His past work has been featured at numberFire, Yahoo! Sports and Bleacher Report. He’s also written a book about how to become a sports blogger. You can sign up for his email newsletter here.