The Kansas City Royals almost had a fairy tale season last year as they took their second place finish in the AL Central and converted it into a World Series appearance but unfortunately they just fell short at the last hurdle. So they have gone away and made some changes adding Alex Rios and Kendrys Morales to the line-up and bolstering their rotation with the addition of Edison Volquez and Kris Medlen. Unfortunately they lost a couple of key components in Billy Butler and James Shields so the new guys are going to have to step up big to fill those roles.
Predicted Line-up (courtesy of www.rosterresource.com)
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- Alcides Escobar, SS
- Alex Gordon, OF
- Lorenzo Cain, OF
- Eric Hosmer, 1B
- Salvador Perez, C
- Kendrys Morales, DH
- Alex Rios, OF
- Mike Moustakas, 3B
- Omar Infante, 2B
5 Category Contributor: Alex Gordon, OF
Drafting Gordon won’t have you jumping for joy or bragging in the chat room but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a really good draft pick in the 9th round. Gordon doesn’t excel in any one category but he doesn’t hurt you in one either, average is probably the worst category for him. Batting at 2 means he will have plenty of opportunities to score runs and behind Escobar and Infante he should be able to drive in a few as well. I would expect 20ish home runs with around 10 steals all at a mid-0.260 average. Overall a solid player to have in your team but there is very limited upside over those projections.
Top Tier Potential: Salvador Perez, C
Perez’s natural value comes from the fact he one of only four catchers projected to have 500+ AB’s if healthy. Combine that with a projected third best average among catchers at around 0.290 and the potential for 80+ RBI batting 5th in the line-up and you may have a bargain in the 9th round (his ADP is boosted by catcher leagues so in one catcher leagues he may even last longer). Perez could easily be the third best catcher in roto leagues behind Posey and Lucroy and you can get him as the 5th or 6th catcher off the board.
Mid-Round Speed: Alex Rios, OF
Rios fell off the wagon in 2014 as he went from being a top ten outfielder in 2012 & 2013 to being the 80th ranked outfielder in 2014. Even with the fact he had 100 AB’s less in 2014 that doesn’t account for the fact his homeruns dropped from 18 to 4 and he dropped from 42 steals to 9. The lack of runs and RBI can be partly attributed to the fact that the Rangers were just terrible last season. The move to KC won’t do a lot to bring back the power but the Royals love to steal so Rios should get the green light to run plenty. Batting at seven means his run totals may not bounce back but he should be good for 70+ RBI and hopefully 20+ steals to go with that. Having been burned by him last year the 13th round may not be a gamble I am willing to take but it feels the right value and could be a bargain for someone with #2 outfielder upside.
Fading Light?: Eric Hosmer, 1B
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Right now it is rare to find Hosmer ranked in the top 15 by a lot of people and for someone who was in the top 5-10 discussion at the start of 2014 that is a massive drop off. However, I think we may have found his true value as a corner outfield/utility man because a first baseman who doesn’t offer power isn’t a particularly exciting prospect for me. AB’s shouldn’t be an issue for Hosmer but his value is damaged by the fact that only does he not offer a lot of power he doesn’t offer any steals potential and he doesn’t stand out at any one category. As a fifteenth round pick he won’t disappoint you but I also doubt he will feature in any draft day bargains come the end of the season.
Late Round Speed: Alcides Escobar, SS
Speed, much like power is a premium category late in drafts and finding an everyday SS who can give you 30ish steals late in drafts will feel like a win if you didn’t chase shortstops early in the draft. However, if you need just a little power to go with your steals then Alcides is not that man and 5 homers would be considered a bonus. I actually have him grouped with Xander Bogaerts, Chris Owings, Brad Miller and Jed Lowrie based on roto points calculated from projections. What that means is that Escobar is essentially tied with late round guys for me (Owings, Miller and Lowrie are often undrafted) so the 16th round may even be high for what I expect from him. Do not reach for Escobar above the 16th unless you have completely skimped on steals and just need to get some and even then I don’t love that idea.
Late Round Sleeper?: Lorenzo Cain, OF
Lorenzo Cain must the least powerful, least exciting and lowest drafted hitter projected to bat third in his teams line-up (Not a fact just a guess!). I am not sure he will stay there all season especially if Rios or Morales gets hot but right now the projected batting position does mean he should offer decent runs and RBI to go with 20+ steals. Much like with Hosmer taking Cain in the 18th round won’t lose you your league but I feel like you may be passing up on hitters with far more upside at that time of the draft for someone who has some sleeper potential but is low on the list of people I expect to have a monster year. As an example the outfielders going after him are Khris Davis and Avisail Garcia as well as Matt Cain as a massive upside pitching option. Yeah I have convinced myself I won’t be taking Cain even in the 18th round because I just cannot see that breakout year happening.
Any Other Business?
- Kendrys Morales, DH: In 15+ team leagues Morales is a deep option at first base to help fill those corner infielders and utility spots. In leagues smaller than that he is just below the border of what I would expect to be drafted. Anyone with the potential for 20 homers is a valuable option late in drafts but I fear being in Kc could mean 15 is a more realistic expectation.
- Mike Moustakas, 3B: Moustakas is the breakout that just never happens. The past couple of year everyone in fantasy has tipped him to final breakout and be a solution to the shortage at third base but it just hasn’t ever happened. In a different ball park there is the potential for power but currently you are paying for 15-20 homers from him by having to take a sub 240 average and that is not a trade-off I am interested in. Of course everyone has wrote him off this year so he will probably breakout and be that fantasy weapon!
- Omar Infante, 2B: Batting at number 9 really means Infante has little to no value because he doesn’t offer anything special in steals,average or home runs and batting 9th means he isn’t a threat for runs or RBI. There is potential he could have value if he ends up batting higher at some point in the season.
- Yordano Ventura
- Jason Vargas
- Jeremy Guthrie
- Edinson Volquez
- Danny Duffy
DL: Kris Medlen
There are no fantasy superstars in this rotation and perhaps the most exciting guy for upside, Kris Medlen, is spending the first few months on the DL. Of the season opening rotation Ventura is the most exciting guy both for fantasy and to watch as he often threatens 100 MPH. However, he is still only a number five starter for me but he is being drafted along with the number 4 guys in the 13th/14th round. There is so much pitching talent that I am not sure he is worth even that investment. The rest of the rotation is at best replacement level with Vargas and Duffy the closest to being mixed league relevant.
CL: Greg Holland
SU: Wade Davis
SU: Kelvin Herrera
MR: Luke Hochevar
MR: Jason Franklin
MR: Franklin Morales
MR: Louis Coleman
LR: Chris Young
DL: Tim Collins
Kansas City have three really good relief pitchers with their closer being perhaps the best in the game. For the last two years Holland has fought off the advances of Broxton, Davis and Herrera and has now seen Broxton traded. Holland has the job locked up but Wade Davis was so good last year that he will be waiting in the wings and is worth a speculative late round pick up in deep leagues where closers are at a premium.
- Brandon Finnegan, SP: Finnegan featured late in the season in a relief role and the Royals are yet to decide if that will be his long term future or if he they will send him back to the minors to develop him as a starter. For this season he doesn’t have a great deal of value especially if he ends up stuck in a 6th/7th innings role.