The Royals Should Stay the Course With Edward Olivares

Olivares was a player fans and analysts rallied around, saying the Royals were not giving him a fair shake in the major leagues. Now that he has 12 games in a row for Kansas City, is he still a fan darling?
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In a losing season, there seems to always be a handful of players that fans latch on to. Whether it be a franchise great, like catcher Salvador Perez, or a consistent performer, like jack-of-all-trades Whit Merrifield, fans need these players in a bad season. 

One player that fans rallied around was outfielder Edward Olivares. A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Olivares came to Kansas City from the San Diego Padres when they traded for pitcher Trevor Rosenthal. Olivares made his MLB debut on July 25, 2020, and had a good stretch for a rookie. He saw action in 18 Kansas City games, sporting solid stats.

Edward Olivares - 2020 After Trade to Kansas City

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The performance intrigued fans enough to follow him into 2021, a season that had fringe playoff hopes for some. Those hopes were long gone by the All-Star break, but Olivares was still a popular story. Now optioned and recalled six separate times, Olivares was never with the team for a long stretch. Fans saw an outfield with a revolving door at right field and the uninspiring center fielder Michael A. Taylor and called for Olivares to hold down an outfield role.

The case was made that Olivares fell victim to a numbers game in Kansas City, specifically for infielder Emmanuel Rivera to see time at third base.

According to Alec Lewis of The Athletic, manager Mike Matheny said that Olivares' lack of playing time had nothing to do with his individual performance.

"We’ve given Olivares a look, and as he sat here in my office, I told him he’s done everything he needs to do," Matheny said. "But as we give Emmanuel an opportunity to show what he can do, that does push guys like Hunter Dozier into the outfield. And there are only so many spots."

It makes sense but was still frustrating while players like Dozier and Ryan O'Hearn saw steady playing time. These were players fans see as weak points, when they may still be the best option. Still, during a losing season, it makes sense that a change can be good for the present or let younger players develop for the future.

Top prospects such as infielders Bobby Witt Jr. and Nick Pratto, catcher M.J. Melendez, and outfielder Kyle Isbel are real possibilities to be day one players for the 2022 Royals. While those names should not see major league time in 2021, developing players around those core prospects is key. Taylor is not a long-term solution and Andrew Benintendi is a free agent after 2022. Olivares could be a key future player for the Royals' outfield, and had support to see the field.

Now, Olivares is currently on his longest stretch in Kansas City this year. Playing in 12 games in a row, here is how Olivares has performed at the plate.

Edward Olivares - Aug. 27 - Sept. 8

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Hardly inspiring numbers. And then you have some unsightly outfield play, especially one that sums up the Royals' 2021 season.

The fan support for Olivares has certainly cooled during his late-season slump. While social media is home to some unfounded takes, the response to this specific fielding error received some harsh response.

It may seem right now that Olivares is not in the fans' good graces. Remember that a good series can turn it all around for a player, and Olivares is just in a rough stretch. In a 162-game season, Olivares has only played in 12 consecutive games. Mistakes are bound to happen with developing players. It is better for Olivares to make mistakes during a losing season rather than during a playoff series. There is still a solid case for the Royals to keep the course with Olivares. Just look at his 162-game average stats.

Edward Olivares - 162 Game Projected Stats

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Is it All-Star worthy? No. 

Is it Hall of Fame worthy? No.

Is it better than Dozier and O'Hearn? Yes.

That is all fans want: improvement. The outlook on Olivares may be bleak now, but development takes time. Individual development during a lost season is the best time to do it. Olivares may not be a franchise great, but he does not have to be in order to improve the club.

Read More: The Royals Have a Jam in the Minor League Pipeline, But It's a Good One