Morning Coffee: Royals Fantasy Outlook
While this is not a topic I’m going to dive into too terribly often, I know many of our readers play fantasy baseball, so in the quiet time, I thought I’d write an article about what kind of value the Royals can provide in the upcoming season. For the first time in a long time, multiple Royals players could actually play a big role in teams winning their fantasy leagues. While it doesn’t matter in itself, it is an indication that the Royals are at least heading in the right direction in terms of talent on the field. The thing to remember about fantasy baseball is that it doesn’t always value the same things that actually building a team would value. For example, in most leagues, Alex Gordon’s defense doesn’t mean a whole lot, so while Gordon is probably the best overall player on the team, he’s probably not the best fantasy player on the team. Let’s go around the diamond.
Salvador Perez -¬†Fantasy owners are in a similar predicament with Perez that fans of the Royals are. We badly want to believe he’s a legitimate great bat from behind the plate, but the lack of plate appearances tells us that there’s a very good chance he’s been playing over his head offensively. Perez, like Gordon, gets a big boost from a real team for his defense, but for fantasy, it’s mostly about his offensive numbers. Given 550 plate appearances rather than just over 300 gives Perez about 20 homers, 75 runs batted in and around 30 doubles, which are great numbers from the catching position. I’d say Perez is between the third and fifth best fantasy catcher in 2013.
Eric Hosmer -¬†I think Hosmer gets drafted ahead of a lot of players who ran circles around him in 2012. Many believe (myself included) that Hosmer will bounce back in 2013 and provide a lot of value for where he ends up getting drafted (probably around the ninth or tenth round in a standard ten-team league). If you’re drafting in the third round and have an opportunity to get a shortstop or a second baseman rather than drafting someone like Edwin Encarnacion, you’ll get solid value with Hosmer who, even if he hits at 2011 levels only, probably gets about 75% of the production of some of the guys you’ll get in earlier rounds. He could end up as one of the top five first basemen or one of the worst, but he’ll be drafted as the 12th to 15th best.
Chris Getz/Johnny Giavotella -¬†Neither of these players gets drafted in at typical league, so I’m not going to get too far into them, but if Giavotella wins the job in Spring Training, he’s the one who could actually give you some production on your team. Getz is who he is.
Mike Moustakas -¬†There are eight or nine third basemen in baseball who can be counted on pretty well for fantasy stats, but after that, it’s sort of a crap shoot. Moustakas has a chance to enter that upper¬†echelon¬†in 2013, but for now he sits in the middle tier that includes players who, like Moose, are early in their careers and just haven’t done much, players who are on the downswing ¬†or players who who have surprised in the past, but most are unsure if they’ll repeat it. Because of the wild variance, Moose could be drafted as anywhere from the 10th third baseman to around the 19th or 20th. I’m hopeful this is the last time he’s not one of the five or six best out there.
Alcides Escobar -¬†The shortstop position around baseball isn’t exactly what it was when Jeter, Rodriguez, Tejeda and Garciaparra were the class of the position, but it is a pretty solid offensive position with guys like Jeter still, Jose Reyes and Troy Tulowitzki. Escobar is sort of in the same class as Moustakas in terms of being behind the top of the class, but sitting somewhere in the middle. His stolen bases are beneficial to any team and if you’re willing to punt power at the shortstop position, I think you’ll get a solid average from Escobar along with those steals. He’s probably the 10th or 11th shortstop taken.
Alex Gordon -¬†Remember earlier when I said Gordon’s value isn’t as high in fantasy as it is in real life? Well it’s not, but he’s still a really solid middle round pick as probably the 17th to 25th outfielder selected. His value jumps if he gets back to 2011 levels when he hit those 23 homers and stole 17 bases. If he hits 14 homers and steals 10, though, he’s not quite as valuable to your team. He’s a pretty safe bet for doubles, average and OBP (if your league looks at that which it should), so he’s definitely a cog on your team. Hopefully he ends up at the top of a very good lineup, which will give him a ton of runs scored. Still, he’s not the fantasy cornerstone that his billing as the Royals best player would lead you to believe.
Lorenzo Cain -¬†If Cain can stay healthy, he has a chance to be a very solid later round draft pick and probably be a backup on your team. He’s got some speed, so he’ll steal you a good amount of bases and he’s got some pop, so he might hit you 15 homers. Yost will probably put him toward the top of the lineup if he’s going good, so he might even give you some runs. He’s still probably about the 50th outfielder selected.
Jeff Francoeur -¬†Somebody might draft Francoeur. If they do, good for you for being in a league with that person, so you can avoid finishing last. If it’s you, well, don’t do that. Francoeur’s 2011 was a really nice fantasy season, but I can’t imagine that happening. If the Royals are facing a run of lefties, you can pick him up on a waiver pickup, but seriously, don’t be that guy who drafts Jeff Francoeur.
Billy Butler -¬†The power Billy Butler showed last season took him from a 10th or 11th round pick to probably a fifth round pick in most fantasy leagues. Even if he regresses, he’ll still get you 20 or so homers and 100 or so runs batted in. His lack of speed keeps him from scoring a ton of runs, but he’s on base enough that he’ll luck into 70 or so. He’s not elite among first basemen, but he’s the next tier for sure and if you can get him anytime from the fifth round on, that’s good value.
In the bullpen, if your league values holds, you know who to draft from the Royals. If it doesn’t, then pick up Greg Holland, keep Herrera on your radar and expect about 35-40 saves, a ton of strikeouts and a very solid earned run average.
In the rotation, James Shields is probably the only player worth drafting, but you can mix and match with guys like Jeremy Guthrie and Ervin Santana. I think there’s a chance Wade Davis can be a shrewd early season pickup, though, if he starts out the season hot, but I wouldn’t draft him.
I’m probably not going to regularly write about fantasy baseball, but it’s definitely something I’m interested in, and like I said before, I think a lot of you are, too. So hopefully you enjoyed it and it can help you out as you start to get invites to leagues in the coming weeks.
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