The Royals roster has gone through a lot of changes from 2015 to today. However, the team still features constant and emerging fantasy stars.
The Kansas City Royals have lost a lot of key pieces from their 2015 World Series team. The front office did trade for another bat in the lineup but gave away one of the best closers in the game. Will that be enough to help the value of the current players on the roster?
The Royals lost their designated hitter Kendrys Morales and starting pitcher Edinson Volquez to free agency. They also traded away closer Wade Davis and outfielder Jarrod Dyson. Three of the four players were major contributors to the Royals last season.
Morales hit 30 home runs and 93 RBI with a .263 average. The next closest power hitter was first baseman Eric Hosmer with 25.
Davis dominated opposing batters in the ninth inning. He recorded 27 saves with a 1.87 ERA, 1.131 WHIP and 47 strikeouts in 43.1 innings.
Dyson stole 30 bases in 337 plate appearances. He also hit .278 with eight triples.
Volquez was more of a liability on the mound with his 5.37 ERA and 1.548 WHIP. He will now pitch for the Miami Marlins.
The Royals play in a not-so-friendly park named Kauffman Stadium. The field ranks 27th in home runs. Though, it ranks fifth in runs and sixth in hits. This team may not give you power, but they will get on base and score. The lack of home runs also helps the pitching staff.
It will be tough to replace the numbers of Morales, Dyson, and Davis. But the team features a lot of young talent that can carry a team. I have 10 Royals players, ranging from pitchers to outfielders, inside my top 300.
The starting rotation featured two solid pitching options. I already talked about Volquez’ performance last season, but he won’t be missed much.
The two pitchers atop the rotation were Ian Kennedy and Danny Duffy. The latter just received a nice five-year extension. They will anchor the rotation for the next couple of years.
Kennedy went 11-11 with a 3.68 ERA and 1.221 WHIP. He also struck out 184 and walked 66 in 195.2 innings. Kennedy finished No. 123 overall on the Player Rater, but comes in at No. 70 in my first-draft rankings.
Duffy performed better in 16 fewer innings. He went 12-3 with a 3.51 ERA and 1.141 WHIP. Duffy struck out 188 and walked 42 in 179.2 innings. He is my No. 30 starting pitcher for 2017.
Yordano Ventura was alright, at best. He had a 4.45 ERA, 1.441 WHIP, 7.0 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9. He is far outside my top-60 starting pitchers. Ventura is much closer to No. 90.
The final two starting pitchers are Jason Vargas and Matt Strahm. Vargas only made three starts. Strahm had a 1.23 ERA in 21 appearances. These two are late-round fliers in most leagues.
With Davis getting traded to the Chicago Cubs, Kelvin Herrera is now the Royals closer. Only a few teams can develop a bullpen like the Royals. From Greg Holland to Davis and now to Herrera, they’ve had a good track record.
In 72 games, he had a 2.75 ERA, 0.958 WHIP and 12 saves. Now that he’s in the closer role full-time, I think Herrera will have a better ERA. Herrera is a big strikeout pitcher, posting a 10.8 K/9. He will have close to 30 saves. He is my No. 16 relief pitcher.
Behind him will be veteran Joakim Soria. The team traded for him last offseason and disappointed a little. He had a 4.05 ERA, 1.455 WHIP and one save. He was also strikeout heavy, recording a 9.2 K/9. Looking at the rest of the bullpen, he is the set-up man by default, but I would look elsewhere if you need holds.
The Royals infield features some good options at multiple positions, but no one I’m looking to draft early.
Catcher Salvador Perez hit 22 home runs and 64 RBI with a .247 average. He finished T-3 in homers and eighth in RBI. Definitely not bad, but the low average is what hurts his value. He would be closer to the top five if he hit .270. However, he is still my No. 9 catcher.
Eric Hosmer had his best season in his six-year career. He hit 25 homers, 104 RBI and .266. If he can put up similar numbers this season, then he becomes a top-five first baseman for years. Until then, he is No. 10.
Whit Merrifield was the Royals second baseman last season. Roster Resource lists Raul Mondesi Jr. as the starting second baseman this season. Looking at the numbers, Merrifield would be better for his teammates. He hit .283 in 81 games.
Mike Moustakas had an injury-shortened season last year. He played in just 27 games. He was hitting well before getting hurt, seven home runs and 13 RBI with a .240 average. The position is deep, so Moustakas falls in my rankings to the No. 24 third baseman. If he can remain healthy all season, his owners would have gotten a draft-day steal.
Shortstop Alcides Escobar doesn’t stand out in one category to make him ownable. He played in all 162 games, which is nice. He hit .261 and stole 17 bases. There isn’t much to get excited for. There are better options to draft.
The Royals made a lot of modifications to their outfield. After all of the moves, Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon are the two mainstays.
Cain had a great year despite playing in just 103 games. He hit .287/.339/.408 with nine home runs, 56 RBI, and 14 steals. If he can stay healthy, then I can see a .285 average with 12 homers, 70 RBI, and 20 steals. For now, he’s my No. 35 outfielder.
Gordon’s value has dropped greatly over the last two seasons. After playing in 156 games in both 2013 and 2014, he played in just 104 and 128 games in 2015 and 2016, respectively. He did hit 17 homers last season, but the low RBI total and .220 average prevent me from drafting him.
The team acquired Jorge Soler, creating an abundance of outfielders. Days later, the picture got a little clearer as they traded Dyson to Seattle. It’s still debatable that Soler could be the designated hitter as well as the right fielder.
The listed DH is Cheslor Cuthbert. As the fill-in third baseman last season, he hit .274 with 12 home runs and 46 RBI.
The sleeper outfielder is Paulo Orlando. If Soler does hit as the DH, then Orlando will take over in right field. He is strictly a contact hitter, .302 average and .329 OBP. His 105 strikeouts and lack of power hurt him in standard leagues.
The Royals have a couple of good starting pitching options, a new closer with a lot of upside and solid hitters across the board.
There are only two players ranked No. 10 or better in their respective positions, Hosmer and Perez. Herrera is close at No. 16.
The rest of the ranked players, I will release my player rankings next month, are mid-draft picks with high reward tags if they perform. Those players are Moustakas, Kennedy, and Cain.