Nicknames are great in baseball. When nicknames become fan-wide trends, it is even better. Last year, “Soler Power” took Royals nation by storm, as Soler’s breakout season helped Royals fans deal with a second-straight 100-loss season. Two years ago, “Two Hit” Whit began to take hold, as his nickname became firmly entrenched in Kansas City households by the end of the 2019 season (especially after his first All-Star appearance).
There have been many Royals nicknames that have generated fond memories with Royals fans. “Gordo”. “Moose.” “HDH”. Just to name a few. However, what nicknames are going to be trends in 2020? What is going to take Royals twitter by storm like “Soler Power” a year ago?
Let’s take a look at five different candidates and their nicknames which could be embraced by Royals fans this upcoming season.
“Pretty Nicky” (Nicky Lopez)
Many Royals fans are expecting second baseman Nicky Lopez to breakout in 2020. He had a strong finish to 2019, gained some valuable muscle mass, and seems to be entrusted with the second base position before Spring Training has even begun. Furthermore, Nicky is a young boy-ish guy who could generate his share of fanfare from all kinds of Royals fans, especially the younger crowd, for example (I’m trying to be as PC as possible here guys).
With a new long, hairdo, if Lopez breaks out, it is possible we could see “Pretty Nicky” become a nickname trend with Royals fans in 2020. It would be a bit of a spin on the R&B artist, “Pretty Ricky“, who is known for Valentine’s Day favorites such as “Grind with Me” and “On the Hotline” (well…Valentine’s Day favorites a decade ago, anyways). While Whit currently is the heartthrob with Royals lady fans, it will be curious to see that if “Pretty Nicky” will steal any of Whit’s thunder should he break out at the plate in 2020 and be a regular fixture in the Royals lineup.
“McBoom” (Ryan McBroom)
I talked in a previous post about Ryan McBroom gaining some steam in Spring Training. McBroom isn’t guaranteed a spot on the Royals’ active 26-man roster, as he still has a minor league option remaining, and sources seem to indicate that Ryan O’Hearn has first dibs at the first base job this Spring. “BrO’Hearn” can also be a thing in 2020, as it got some middling interest at the end of 2018 and 2019, but has failed to catch on over the full course of the season.
“McBoom” has a nice ring to it, as McBroom is a big strong dude who demonstrated some good power potential in the minor leagues. While he probably has less home run power upside in comparison to O’Hearn, he probably will hit for higher average, and McBroom has flexibility to play the outfield as well, which could come in handy should Hunter Dozier struggle through any injuries this year (he has missed some time due to injury almost every season with the Royals).
Plus, Royals fans would probably get a kick of Ryan Lefebvre and Rex Hudler getting all excited yelling “McBoom” on the Royals TV broadcast (whoever the hell is airing them this year) every time he should hit a home run at the K in 2020.
“The President” (Ian Kennedy)
I am spinning closer Ian Kennedy’s nickname off of John F. Kennedy, the only Irish Catholic to ever be elected president. As someone who is half-Irish (I mean my name is O’Brien for christ sake…though I do not look like any “Kevin O’Brien’s” you should Google Image search), he is my favorite president, even though I was born roughly 20-plus years after his presidency. I could imagine a fan section dressed in presidential suits, or Photoshop images with Kennedy’s face on the JFK portraits, with this one below possibly being a good template. (Let’s see it creative Royals fans!)
Furthermore, “The President” would mesh well with Kennedy’s role in the bullpen. The President is the lead of a country or organization, and the closer is the lead of the bullpen. So in many ways, Kennedy’s new moniker would make a lot of sense, and wouldn’t just be a random connection for those who geek out on American History.
Kennedy was lights out as the Royals closer in 2019, especially in the second half. Let’s see if “The President” has an encore in him for 2020 as he enters the last year of his contract with the Royals.
“Big Game Hunter” (Hunter Dozier)
I really wanted to do something with Dozier’s last name, but as I researched, I hit a few snags. My initial instinct was to go with “Bulldozier”, but apparently that was a nickname for Brian Dozier during his Minnesota Twins days. Hence, I did not want to run into that conflict with Twins fans who would say that the Royals are “stealing” their original moniker for player (which by the way, let’s be honest, if we think of a “bulldozier” style player, our Dozier fits the bill much better than the Twins’ version). I also know that “Doz” was starting to catch on a little, but I find that boring and predictable, kind of like “Gordo” and “Hoz”, which are just cheap nicknames in my opinion.
So, I reverted to his first name, and liked the possibilities with “Hunter.” Since Dozier is from Texas and seems like a “rural” kind of guy, I settled on “Big Game Hunter” which I think is a fitting nickname. Dozier is expected to be a critical part of this Royals lineup in 2020, and it seems like his power is expected to transition from 2019 to this upcoming season. Furthermore, Dozier has a penchant for the big moment, as evidenced by this clutch homer last season against the White Sox:
So let’s embrace it Royals fans (especially “The Keep”). Get out the antlers. Get out the camo. Get out the orange hunting vests. (In this day and age, I think bringing guns to the game may be a no-no, even in a red-state like Missouri). “Big Game Hunter” season will begin at the K on April 2nd!
The “Yankee Clipper” (Maikel Franco)
I wanted to give Maikel Franco a nickname, since he was the prized free agent signed by Dayton Moore this off-season, and he is expected to breakout after spending his entire career previously in Philadelphia. With a much bigger ballpark, less expectations, and a much friendlier fan base, Franco is definitely in a situation in Kansas City where he can resurrect his once promising prospect career in 2020.
However, nicknames were tough. Unfortunately, if you look up “Franco” on Google, the major one that comes up is Francisco Franco, who was a ruthless Spanish dictator who rule Spain for over 30 years. I don’t think that would have been an appropriate or an endearing nickname, especially since like 90 percent of Royals fans have no idea who “El Caudillo” was. (And to be honest, I only barely knew his history before I did the research just a few moments ago.)
But as I did my research, I did stumble on this article from the Wall Street Journal that talked about Franco being a “Yankee Killer.” I don’t really like using the term “Killer” as a nickname, and I could see it being shunned in a family-friendly environment like Kauffman Stadium. That being said, that former nickname gave me the inspiration to use the “Yankee Clipper”, which comes from this classic of a film:
Yes, I get Joe Dimaggio is the original “Yankee Clipper”, but come on…young fans remember Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell, not “Joltin Joe”. And the moniker is worthy, as Franco’s 1.549 OPS against the Yankees is his best metric in that category against any team he has hit against over his career (granted, it was only six games, but still impressive nonetheless).
So when the Yankees come to town (which will be August 10th-12th), let’s get out the “Yankee Clipper” signs for Franco, to help get him up and continue his thrashing of America’s second-most hated baseball team (sorry, Astros took that title this year).
Hopefully, Franco won’t cost Royals fans 20 grand on the game.
- “Double Bubba” (Bubba Starling): I could see Starling being a doubles-hitter at the K if he continues his progression as a hitter from 2019. He’s got the speed and potential gap power. However, he is on the “Bubba” to make the active roster this Spring and could be designated for assignment, so I want to wait and see before giving him a nickname for 2020.
- “El Hijo Rapido” (Adalberto Mondesi): Much like “Doz”, I think “Mondi” is a lazy nickname. I feel “El Hijo Rapido” refers to his famous lineage (he’s the son of former Major Leaguer Raul Mondesi) as well his best tool (his base-stealing ability and speed). However, his relationship with his dad is complicated, as he was sentenced to prison for eight years for corruption in the Dominican Republic, which may have spurred Mondesi to change his name from “Raul Mondesi, Jr.” to “Adalberto Mondesi” around that timespan. Thus, I think any reference to his dad may be unappreciated or not welcomed by Mondesi.
- “Chance, the Reliever” (Chance Adams): This is a spin on “Chance the Rapper”. I think this could be a fun nickname, especially if Chance Adams breaks out in Kansas City after toiling in the Yankees system. However, it is still uncertain whether the Royals will use Adams as a starter or reliever, so the nickname will have to wait until he gets a formal role in the Royals organization.
- “Foster Freeze” (Foster Griffin): It’s possible that Foster Griffin, who spent all of last year in Omaha, could break camp as the No. 5 starter with a strong Spring. Thus, this nickname would be a nice spin on the famous California ice cream and hamburger drive in. But I do worry that the lack of familiarity with the chain in Kansas City, and Griffin’s shaky profile as a starter (he posted a high 5 ERA in Omaha last year), would put this nickname dead on arrival.
- “Nick the Quick” (Nick Heath): Heath is gaining momentum and steam as the next Royals speedster in the mold of Terrance Gore and Jarrod Dyson. I think that’s a bit unfair, as I do think Heath is a more complete player than either of those two (much better defense and power potential, though his strikeout rates in the minors are a bit concerning). Heath stole 72 bases overall between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha a year ago, so the speed seems legitimate. However, considering he has all three options remaining, and he is blocked in the outfield by out-of-options counterparts such as Starling and Brett Phillips, it is likely that Heath will play most of the year in Triple-A barring a stupendous Spring.