MLB Fantasy Breakdown: Kansas City Royals

by Bill M on March 8, 2014 · 0 comments

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NOTE: The MLB team write-ups are based on my preparation for my fantasy season rather than trying to breakdown teams with a focus on actual MLB.  The main fantasy format I play is Scoresheet baseball, which is a simulation service, so skills are more important that counting numbers for me.  But, a good player is a good player so the info should translate well to any format.  I hope you enjoy!

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

TARGET: Alex Gordon, James Shields,

MID-RANGE: Eric Hosmer, Omar Infante, Billy Butler, Danny Duffy (dynasty), Greg Holland

END GAME: Mike Moustakas, Norichika Aoki, Jeremy Guthrie, Jason Vargas, Other RP (Scoresheet only)

INFIELD/DH

1B Eric Hosmer was an uber-prospect, then fell flat on in the majors.  He has been making steady production improvements, but he’s still an extreme GB hitter (52% for his career), so the power is unlikely to ever live up to standard at 1B.  I’m likely lower than most calling him mid-range, so I’m really saying, “let someone else take him.”  Omar Infante is a good ballplayer coming off a career year (795 OPS built on an outlier 0.333 BABIP and 24% line drive rate), so his value is likely going to be skewed in your league.  If he falls to the end of the mid-range, though, he’ll likely give you good return.  Billy Butler is coming of a lack-luster season where he had an inexplicable power outage due to a career high 53% GB rate.  It’s really inexplicable, so I don’t want to make too much of it, which is why I still have him as a mid-range pick.  3B Mike Moustakas was also a very highly rated prospect who has been closer to replacement in the majors (0.4 WAR in 2013).  Unlike Hosmer, he hasn’t shown the ability to make adjustments; so really, he’s a reach as end game purely based on the ceiling, no matter how remote it is that he’ll ever approach those heights.  Alcides Escobar is your typical slick fielding weak offensive SS.  Pay no attention to 2012 that was an outlier.

OUTFIELD

Alex Gordon is the only true target on the offensive side of field for the Royals.  He’s coming off a subpar season, but the skills are still there.  His BABIP fell from the previous two seasons, and he became more aggressive as a result.  He has a great hit tool and better than average power, so with any luck he should return to his productive 2011-12 self.  He can even sneak some SB onto the ledger and has a good defensive range for a corner OF in Scoresheet.  He was literally one of my targets in a recent AL draft, but he went a round before I was hoping to get him.  Norichika Aoki came over from MIL this offseason.  He has good OBA (0.355) and speed (25 SB average per season), but he’s a slap hitter (58% GB rate).  If he ain’t hittin’ ‘em where they ain’t, like last year, he becomes more replacement; hence the end game rating.  Lorenzo Cain has alluring tools, the principle one being speed, but he doesn’t get on base enough to turn it into a weapon.  Avoid.

ROTATION

The Royals parted with top prospect Wil Myers to get Big Game James Shields last offseason, and while Myers earned Rookie of the Year, Shields did his best to live up to the Ace expectations.  He had a 3.15 ERA, and as always threw well over 200 IP.  There is a red flag, however, as his K/9 fell an entire point.  Despite that, he’s in his contract year, so it’s probably worth moving him up a round or paying a bit more in an auction for re-draft leagues.  In dynasty leagues, it might be time to sell high.  Danny Duffy put up a great ERA (1.85) in his return from TJ surgery last year, and he completely regained his velocity (93+), which is fantastic for a lefty.  He’s listed in the 5th spot on most depth charts, but he has easily the second best talent in this rotation.  He showed the telltale control issues (5.2 BB/9) many TJ victims go through upon return, so there are likely to be hiccups in 2014.  With that said, He’s definitely a mid-range dynasty pick, maybe higher.  Jeremy Guthrie is a plodder, no more.  He takes the ball every 5 days and rarely explodes (only 4 disaster starts in 2013), so he’s a decent backup in a Scoresheet rotation.  Jason Vargas had a rare injury issue in 2013, but he’s was reliable for around 200 IP the three previous seasons.  He has a little more bat missing than Guthrie, but he’s really just a lefty version.  Venerable veteran lefty Bruce Chen will start the season with a rotation spot.  He’s likely to have a stretch during the season that will make you want to pick him up in non-Scoresheet leagues, but just know that the eventual disaster is a “when” not an “if.”

BULLPEN

Greg Holland established himself as one of the best closers in the league, and at 24, using his mid-90s FB and wipeout slider to the tune of a 13.8 K/9 rate.  He’s very close to being a rare target at closer, and probably is in dynasty.  The rest of the Royals pen is a cavalcade of failed starting prospects with high end stuff and ten-cent heads.  Luke Hochevar moved from the MLB rotation to being the top set-up man last year, and now he’s down with TJ.  Kelvin Herrera was one of my top targets as a great set-up man and maybe even closer but had a horrific year (3.86 ERA) because of the long ball (18% HR/F rate).  The insane 98+ FB velocity is still there, so this could be a nice low buy.  LHP Tim Collins and RHP Aaron Crow throw hard and struggle with the plate, but again, the stuff is top shelf so there could be something there.

Reach me on Twitter @wjm37 and on email at wjm37_jds@outlook.com

Sites used in research: Baseball Prospectus, Baseball HQ, Baseball America, MLB Depth Charts, BrooksBaseball, and Baseball-Reference, and FanGraphs.

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