Fantasy Baseball 2014: KC Royals Hitting and Pitching Projections


Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

What if we discover the string of horrible seasons from the Kansas City Royals were actually the result of the team’s families being held captive and those poor performing years were them making an effort to signal everyone.

What if they literally were a cry for help?

The good news is that help has come to the Kansas City Royals and all women and children are safely at home in the arms their families.

In fact, the Royals should be an extremely interesting team in 2104, particularly on the hitting side of the hitting side of the equation. Read on and we’ll get to the interesting bits soon enough.

[table id=211 /]

I included the team strikeout percentage (K%) in that table because it’s very…interesting. I didn’t think I’d see an entire team in this age of the strikeout where the ‘hacker’ on the team would be considered Gordon who strikes out at only a 20% clip.

For comparison, 13 teams had a K% obove 20% in 2013, lead by the Houston Astros at 25.5%. The Royals were already the leagues’ 2nd best team at 17.2% in 2013. The addition of Infante and Aoki (who led the leagues with a minuscule 5.9%) should make them even better.

Clearly, Kansas City prefers aggressive, high-contact hitters, most likely because they believe it fits their ballpark profile.  The Royals may not have much thump, but they’ll certainly put the ball in play better than any team out there, which is interesting. You are on notice, opposing defenses.

Crackerjack Fantasy Options: Billy Butler, Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon, Salvador Perez, Norichika Aoki, Omar Infante

We compare Eric Hosmer to Brandon Belt here. We profile Aoki in full here and Salvador Perez here.

Omar Infante is better served as a middle infield (MI) option or in deep fantasy leagues only, so let’s take a few words to discuss Alex Gordon and Billy Butler.

Gordon at this point in his career is a solid, predictable fantasy option. Critics will point to a second half slide, but us roto nerds are looking at the full body of work, not just pulling out selected samples. The addition of Aoki and Infante likely push Gordon into the 3rd position in the lineup, so tick his runs scored down some, but tick his RBI up and draft him as the 25-35th fantasy outfielder off the board.

It’s also much of the same with Billy Butler. Fantasy owners will just have to accept that Country Breakfast is closer to a 20-homer hitter than a 30-homer guy. And although you’ll be hamstrung by his limited DH utility, he’ll help your fantasy team with AVG and will contribute strong run and RBI numbers.

[table id=212 /]

Crackerjack Fantasy Options: Greg Holland, James Shields

Billy Butler has the down home nickname of Country Breakfast, but there may not be a more take-your-lunch-to-work pitcher than James Shields.

Shields quietly puts up front of the rotation numbers year in and year out. While he’s not a fantasy pitcher to reach for, he’s certainly one than you draft with high confidence, then sit back and watch as he gives your fantasy team 200 great innings.

Fantasy Star: Greg Holland

It’s odd to list an unheralded closer as a fantasy team’s star, particularly when the lineup has so many solid, if unspectacular options. But Holland is spectacular and he anchors a spectacular Royals bullpen.

His numbers compare favorably across the board with some of fantasy’s best closers – Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel, Kenley Jansen – yet he’ll likely be had rounds later than these better known fantasy names.

Sometimes choosing a fantasy star isn’t the guy taken in round 1 or 2, it’s the quietly useful puzzle piece that be grabbed rounds later at a value.

Fantasy Bust: Mike Moustakas

It seems like it’s been a decade since fantasy owners were waiting for Mous to fulfill his 30 home run potential and Moustakas is just 25. Drafting Moustakas is like playing the game of “Why are you hitting yourself?” Stop punching yourself in the face, Dear Crackerjack Readers, and just draft another third baseman instead.

Prospect Watch: Yordano Ventura

Listing Ventura in the rotation may be more wishful thinking than anything else.

The team’s 23-year-old top prospect likely deserves the spot based on pure talent alone, but the reality is that he could use some more Triple-A seasoning. Expect Wade Davis to get the early season call, but keep eye on Ventura (two eyes if you can spare them) during spring training as he has the potential to be a solid fantasy asset.

Fantasy Sleeper: Jarrod Dyson

Dyson is a pretty unattractive sleeper candidate, as his sleeperdom rests solely on playing time. As is, he makes an excellent 4th outfielder for the Royals, but if Lo Cain goes down to injury (which happens more than it should), Dyson would surely get the nod in center. Since Dyson has shown that he can steal an insane amount of bases in limited playing time, he makes an intrigue player to own in the times he’s playing regularly.

Final Thoughts

Up and down the lineup, the Royals have several useful pieces. While none of them have the kind of star power that will ‘wow’ you, they each contribute.

That’s the way they should be approached in fantasy as well. I wouldn’t reach for any of these guys, but if they slide to you in a draft, grab them and be happy that you did.

Further Reading