Team Previews in a Fantasy Nutshell: Kansas City Royals
Projected Starting Lineup
C: Salvador Perez—If there is one word that encapsulates Salvador Perez, it’s consistency. Perez is good for 20/70 every year with a batting average which won’t kill your team. Is that worth a 9th round pick in drafts and about $13 at your auction? Quite possibly, because if you wait much longer he will be gone.
1B: Eric Hosmer—Hosmer has never fulfilled the vast promise that Fantasy owners had for him when he came up from the minors. It’s not that he is a bad player (far from it), it’s just that it doesn’t seem like Hosmer will ever take the next step to becoming a top tier first baseman. If I can’t get Cabrera, Rizzo, or Freeman, I think I am going to wait a bit on the position instead of taking Hosmer in the 4th or 5th rounds.
2B: Whitt Merrifield—I am not sure who is going to win this four-way cage match for the Royals' starting 2B job but I can assure you that none of them (Cuthbert, Mondesi, or Colon) will make any of my Fantasy rosters.
SS: Alcides Escobar—Escobar usually slides in drafts because of his lack of power. That said, he provides a decent average (think around .270) to go along with 70 runs scored and 15-20 stolen bases. With speed at a premium in leagues today, Escobar has a bit more value than people think—especially in AL only formats.
3B: Mike Moustakas—Moose was just starting to assert himself in the picture of top third basemen when he tore his ACL last season. I think that we will see him get off to a slow start in 2017 with him finally getting into the groove in June when the weather warms up. My visionary tip for him is to let someone else draft him and get discouraged with his first two months, then you come in and make a lowball offer and watch him have an exciting second half on your roster.
OF: Alex Gordon—Watching a player decline can vary depending on the sport. Usually in the NFL, the decline happens so quickly that from one year to the next (think Shaun Alexander). However, in baseball it tends to be different. The decline can often take two to three years and the worst part is that Fantasy owners cling to the hope that the player will rebound and change his fortunes. Gordon is in the midst of a decline and I will have zero shares of him this season.
OF: Lorenzo Cain—2015 was the perfect storm for Cain because we saw exactly what he is capable of when fully healthy. He hit for .307 to go along with 16 HR and 28 SB. Sadly, in his follow up season he was only able to get 397 AB and his numbers went down. So the big question is this: “Do you think he can stay healthy enough to get 550 AB?” If your answer is “Yes” then most assuredly, Cain is a 4th or 5th round pick in a draft. If your answer is “No” then you will let someone else take the risk. (By the way my answer is No)
OF: Jorge Soler—The Cubs decided to trade Soler to the Royals in order to get Wade Davis as their new closer. I happen to like this deal for the Royals more than people might think. Kelvin Herrera will slide into the closer’s role without any problem and now the Royals have added Soler as their starting right fielder replacing Paulo Orlando. Soler is going to fly under the radar this year because of his disappointing seasons in Chicago, but I see that as a huge mistake. Soler was once the top minor leaguer in the Cubs system and all he needs is a team which will allow him to get every day at bats without the fear of being sent to the minors. The Royals are that team.
DH: Brandon Moss—Moss is exactly who you think he is: Good power, poor average, and qualifies at two positions. If you are in an AL only league and need power I think that he should be able to hit about 20-25 HR this year.
SP: Danny Duffy—I would like to introduce you to the ace of the Royals, Danny Duffy! Duffy signed a big five year deal with the team in the off-season and he will be the anchor of their rotation. Duffy’s K/BB ratio was incredible (188/42) which immediately tells me that he is not beating himself by putting runners on base. He needs to cut down on the home runs allowed (he let up 27 last year) and if he does that his ERA could hover much closer to 3.00 than ever.
SP: Ian Kennedy—Last year was a very strange year for Kennedy. He started out like Cy Young in the first two months of the season, only to pitch like Vince Young in June and July. He did rebound to finish out the season strong, but I don’t trust him at all. Dr. Roto’s rule of thumb: If I can’t trust you, I can’t draft you.
SP: Jason Hammel—Hammel has had some pretty good seasons recently in Chicago, but I have a rule in that I do not draft pitchers who go from the NL to the AL. I am willing to bend this rule for the right pitcher (Kershaw, Cole, etc) but not Hammel.
SP: Nate Karns—Karns looked pretty good last year until his back started to hurt and he ended up on the DL. The Royals thought enough of his talent that they were willing to move 4th OF, Jarrod Dyson, to bring Karns in as their SP4. I am willing to give Karns a shot for a buck at the end of my auction.
SP: Matt Strahm—The Royals were toying with using Strahm in their rotation, but I think he might end up back in the bullpen. He was dominant in Double-A last year and looked pretty great in 22 IP in the majors (30 Ks in 22 IP). Sometimes in Fantasy Sports you have to draft players based on skills instead of position. That is the case with Strahm. I am not sure where he will play, but I do know that he will be good no matter where he ends up.
RP: Joakim Soria—I’m not a huge fan of Soria, but if I owned Herrera I might draft him as the handcuff. He still has closing experience which no one else on the Royals staff really does.
Closer: Kelvin Herrera—I would like to introduce you to my newest Roto Child: Kelvin Herrera Roto! Mrs. Roto and I welcome him with open arms to our family—and we think you should welcome him to your Fantasy family. Herrera has always had elite skills but never had the opportunity to close before last year. When he finally got his shot, he showed that he could handle the position with ease. He gets tons of Ks and lets up very few HR. Even better, it appears that he is like the 12th RP to go off the board in most drafts.