One of the storylines of October was how the Royals were a team greater than the sum of its parts. A steady dose of national exposure that comes from back-to-back World Series appearances means everyone in your fantasy league is familiar with the Kansas City lineup, rotation, and bullpen. The temptation may be to overdraft, but realize the Royals aren’t loaded with fantasy studs. There are plenty of players who can help your team, but only if you slot them in the right position on your draft board.
The following is based on a standard, 12-team, 5×5 Roto league.
Worth their draft spot
2016 PECOTA Projection – .266 BA, 10 HR, 60 RBI, 67 R, 26 SB
Expected draft round – 4-5
Cain is the Royals five-tool fantasy player. While PECOTA may not take a particular shine to the center fielder, based on his production in 2015, those counting numbers are close to his averages for the last two seasons. He posted batting averages of .301 and .307 the previous two summers and with Cain’s speed, his BABIP will always be above league average. His contact rate showed marked improvement going from 78 percent in 2014 to 83 percent last year.
When looking at drafting Royals batters, it’s important to remember manager Ned Yost doesn’t like to move his guys around in the lineup. Cain is the third place hitter, meaning he will have opportunity to both drive in and score runs. He’s Kansas City’s best fantasy option.
2016 PECOTA Projection – 4 Wins, 2.55 ERA, 1,17 WHIP, 75 SO, 43 SV
Expected draft round – 5
If you’re looking to break the seal on closers in your draft, you can’t do much better than to open with Davis. Since moving to the bullpen, he’s been simply dominant. His strikeout rate has elevated to double digits, his strand rate approaches 90 percent and pitching primarily as a set-up man the last two years, has blown just four save opportunities. With Greg Holland out of the picture following his Tommy John surgery, Davis was exceptional in the postseason and with the Royals still in position to pace the AL Central, he will get plenty of save opportunities. Take advantage.
2016 PECOTA Projection – .276 BA, 15 HR, 72 RBI, 68 R, 8 SB
Expected draft round – 6
You draft a first baseman expecting run production. Power. All-around offense. Hosmer will bring what we can consider to be all-around performance, but those expectations need to be tempered, especially in the home run department. Prone to letting his swing get long and pull-happy, resulting in myriad 4-3 putouts, Hosmer will disappoint if you rate him too highly in your draft. Yet his position in the Royals lineup will give him ample opportunity to surpass the PECOTA projections for RBI and Runs. He’s playing in his age-26 season and is coming off career highs across the board in fantasy categories.
2016 PECOTA Projection – 10 Wins, 3.65 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 153 SO
Expected draft round – 14
The flamethrower at the front of the Royals rotation almost had his season derailed in the first half of 2014. Cramps, pitches with intent, and sundry sideshow issues – including a trip to the DL – came with a 5.19 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in his first 14 starts. That performance earned him a one-day trip to the minors. (He was immediately recalled when Jason Vargas fell victim to Tommy John surgery.) The demotion, however brief, was something of a wakeup call. Over his final 14 starts Ventura posted a 3.10 ERA with a 1.25 WHIP. He tired in October, but his ceiling can easily beat that PECOTA projection, especially when it comes to WHIP. Draft with confidence.
2016 PECOTA Projection – 10 Wins, 4.04 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 156 SO
Expected draft round – 20
That looks close to Ventura’s projection, doesn’t it? But while one provides projectable upside, Kennedy brings a spotty track record back to the American League. Sure, he will benefit from an improved defense and spacious ballpark, but opponents have been squaring him up with regularity for the past four seasons.
2016 PECOTA Projection – 7 Wins, 4.11 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 86 SO
Expected draft round – 25+
2016 will mark the first full season for Medlen since making a return from his second Tommy John surgery. After missing all of 2014 and with nearly 60 innings of action under his belt from last year, we can expect him to improve on his 2.8 BB/9 to something more in line with his career 2.1 BB/9. While his 4.13 FIP was in line with his 4.01 ERA total from last year, his strand rate of 68 percent was well off his career rate. Not expecting miracles. Just a solid option as you round out your rotation. Beware of the long ball, though. Even in KC.
2016 PECOTA Projection – .243 BA, 1 HR, 21 RBI, 43 R, 39 SB
Expected draft round – 25+
What if I were to tell you I know someone who could steal you a base? Is that something you would be interested in? Dyson has one tool that plays in fantasy: Speed. Slated to be the left-handed hitting side of a right field platoon, he will open the season on the DL with an oblique strain. Reports are encouraging that he will only miss a couple of weeks. There’s absolutely no power there and you will need cover for the batting average. But the dude can flat run.