Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

2014 Fantasy Outlooks: Kansas City Royals

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

The Royals entered 2013 with arguably the most promising group of young hitters in all of baseball -- Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Billy Butler and Salvador Perez were all younger than 27 and on an upward trajectory.

Throw in Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar and Alex Gordon (all under 30), and it appeared nothing but (powder) blue skies were ahead. And then things stalled.

2014 Fantasy Outlooks
A.L. East N.L. East
Orioles Braves
Red Sox Marlins
Yankees Mets
Rays Phillies
Blue Jays Nationals
A.L. Central N.L. Central
White Sox Cubs
Indians Reds
Tigers Brewers
Royals Pirates
Twins Cardinals
A.L. West N.L. West
Astros Diamondbacks
Angels Rockies
Athletics Dodgers
Mariners Padres
Rangers Giants

Hitting coach Jack Maloof made comments after his reassignment implying that the team's philosophy was to, "be more line-drive oriented." Maloof said the team would finish last in home runs in 2013 and wasn't concerned about it. The man who took over as hitting coach, Pedro Grifol, worked with George Brett to re-manage the hitters.

From June 1 forward (the reassignment move was announced May 30) Eric Hosmer hit .318 with 16 home runs and an .862 OPS. Mike Moustakas hit .257 with eight home runs (he was at .183 with four home runs on May 30). Salvador Perez hit .284 with 12 home runs. And Billy Butler hit .300 with 10 home runs. While they didn't become mashers, whatever Brett and Grifol did seemed to work, at least for Fantasy owners. And it makes things look even more exciting for the Royals in 2014.

So maybe we pretend that 2013 didn't happen and enter this season with the same level of optimism as we did a year ago for the still-young Kansas City bats.

This group is going to be supported by Norichika Aoki, who was acquired in a December trade with the Brewers, and Omar Infante, an underrated second baseman (offensively), who gives the team some much-needed stability in the middle infield. If Cain can stay healthy, this could be a dangerous offense from top to bottom.

The pitching staff returns James Shields at the top of the rotation, and replaces the departed Ervin Santana with workhorse Jason Vargas. Danny Duffy returns from Tommy John surgery to anchor the back-end of the rotation, and he has some momentum going forward, as he put together a 1.85 ERA over five late-season starts. Greg Holland is a top-five closer but if something happens to him, there is no shortage of replacement options, from Luke Hochevar (re-born as a reliever) to Kelvin Herrera, to Aaron Crow. Yordano Ventura is as electric a prospect as any in baseball, and could pitch his way into the rotation by mid-season.

Overall, this is a team chock-full of Fantasy potential. If the hitting philosophy in the first half of 2013 really did set back the bats, then we have fair reason to believe things have been righted. Hosmer looks like a third-round Fantasy talent, while the rest of the starting lineup should all have some mixed-league impact. These are not the Royals of two years ago, when these players were all exciting prospects on the rise. They have arrived, have no more roadblocks, and have played enough at the major league level to carry realistic expectations.

Sleeper ... Danny Duffy, starting pitcher

2014 projected lineup
Player Name Position
1. Norichika Aoki RF
2. Omar Infante 2B
3. Eric Hosmer 1B
4. Billy Butler DH
5. Alex Gordon LF
6. Salvador Perez C
7. Mike Moustakas 3B
8. Lorenzo Cain CF
9. Alcides Escobar SS
Bench Emilio Bonifacio IF/OF
Bench Danny Valencia IF/OF

There's always some degree of worry for a player coming off Tommy John surgery, but Duffy returned on a relatively normal schedule and pitched well in five games (1.85 ERA, 22 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings) before ultimately being shut down with forearm soreness in early September. Before having Tommy John, Duffy was a top pitching prospect in the Royals' system, with a 2.65 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over 350 innings in the minors. He struck out 407 batters in that span. His pre-injury 2012 was also off to a promising start, with a 3.57 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings over his first four games. Duffy won't be expected to do much and will have little pressure on him at the back end of the Royals rotation, but he could turn in a solid 2014, with a low-3.00 ERA, sub-1.25 WHIP, and a K/9 of about 9.0.

Underappreciated ... Greg Holland, relief pitcher

Holland had a 2.96 ERA in 2012, with 91 strikeouts in 67 innings. He saved 16 games. And yet, when Holland began the 2013 season giving up four runs in his first three games, the haters jumped on him, screaming for Kelvin Herrera to take over the closer's role. Over his final 64 games, Holland saved 45 games, posting a 0.70 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, and striking out 98 batters over 64 innings. The Herrera crowd got very quiet, very quickly. Even if you look at that line and declare Holland a top 10 closer, you're still doing him a disservice. Holland is top five, and there's a case to be made that he's top three, behind only Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman. But maybe because his early-season hiccup is still stuck in everyone's mind, or perhaps because Herrera is such an enticing option, Fantasy owners will continue to underrate Holland. Pay top dollar for him in an auction, and you'll be rewarded with a spectacular strikeout rate, over 40 saves (on an improved Royals team), and low ERA and WHIP.

Impact prospect ... Yordano Ventura, starting pitcher

2014 rotation/bullpen
Player Name Throws
1. James Shields RHP
2. Jeremy Guthrie RHP
3. Jason Vargas LHP
4. Wade Davis RHP
5. Danny Duffy LHP
ALT Yordano Ventura RHP
Bullpen Breakdown
1. Greg Holland RHP
2. Luke Hochevar RHP
3. Aaron Crow RHP
4. Tim Collins LHP
5. Kelvin Herrera RHP

As the Royals stand right now, there's no room for Ventura in the rotation. But Wade Davis struggled as a starter in 2013 after showing plenty of success out of the bullpen in 2012, so there's always a chance that, if Davis struggles, a swap could be made (the Royals, after all, weren't afraid to move former No. 1 overall pick Luke Hochevar to the bullpen). And as bullish as we are on Duffy here, there's always a chance he struggles in his first full season back from Tommy John. Ventura started three late-season games for Kansas City last year, going 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. Over five minor league seasons, Ventura has a 3.47 ERA and 1.25 WHIP, with 455 strikeouts over 415 1/3 innings. In his major league debut, Ventura hit 101.9 on the radar gun, which was the fastest pitch thrown by any starter in the last five years. His fastball averaged 97.1 over his three starts. Ventura will almost certainly start the season in the minors -- where he can continue to work on supplemental pitches -- but could be up with the Royals by mid-season. Think of him like this season's version of Tony Cingrani (in terms of arrival time and impact, not makeup), and approach Ventura in Fantasy drafts similarly.

Prospects Report

The Royals' system took a bit of a hit last season with the James Shields trade, but there are still plenty of talented players on the farm. Ventura is probably the most exciting in terms of Fantasy potential this season, but former first round pick Kyle Zimmer may not be far behind. Zimmer struggled in 2013 with a 4.32 ERA, but that masked a very nice 1.17 WHIP and 140 strikeouts over 108 1/3 innings. Zimmer may not be ready for 2014, but is worth consideration in dynasty formats ... Bubba Starling's stock took a hit last season, when produced a .241 average and 13 home runs in 125 Class A games, but he did steal 22 bases, and is just 21 years old heading into this season. Tread carefully in dynasty leagues, though -- if Starling struggles again in 2014, the would-be stud quarterback can head to college and pursue glory on the gridiron ... Christian Colon hit .273 with a career-high 12 home runs and 15 steals over 512 at-bats in Triple-A last season. Colon has played 273 games at shortstop in the minors, and 111 at second base, so he could come up if anything happens to either Alcides Escobar (whose defense should cancel out any repeat plate struggles) or Omar Infante ... John Lamb hasn't been the same pitcher since Tommy John surgery, and struggled in 2013 (his velocity, once around 95, was clocked around 89 in the minors), but the Royals showed faith in the 23-year-old by giving him a shot in Triple-A, where Lamb gave up 12 runs in 16 innings.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Brewers' Tyler Thornburg thankful to avoid serious injury
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4:23 pm ET) Brewers pitcher Tyler Thornburg was lucky to avoid Tommy Joh surgery in 2014. After being place on the disabled list in June, Thornburg was diagnosed with a wrist flexor strain. However, after a few more starts, doctors determined Thornburg injured his UCL. Thankfully for Thornburg, rest and time off was enough to allow the injury to heal.

"I feel great," Thornburg said. "Honestly, the best thing ever was the timing of everything. Right now and I’m very optimistic and if it works out I definitely feel very blessed for not having to go the other route. We had time; that was the biggest thing. We gave it as much time as possible to heal.

"The way we have it scheduled now, I would be ahead of everyone, " he said. "So it’s just in case of a setback, then I would be perfectly on schedule. But what we have planned right now, if I’m not having any setbacks then we can just kind of scale it back a little bit.

Thornburg finished 2014 with a 3-1 record with a 4.25 ERA in 29 2/3 innings.


White Sox 3B Conor Gillaspie bulks up
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(2:52 pm ET) White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie says his offseason weight training program has enabled him to add 15-20 pounds of muscle, "which should translate into driving the ball harder," reports ESPN.com.

“Honestly I’m hoping that by taking the same swing that I did last year, because I’m stronger, I’m hoping that translates into more power,” Gillaspie said, per the website. “It may or may not. We have enough guys that do hit for power on this team now. There are quite a few of them, so truthfully, I think I might be just as valuable getting on base, drawing walks, moving runners.” 

Gillaspie hit .282 with seven homers and 57 RBI in 130 games last year.


Brewers reliever Tyler Thornburg throwing bullpen sessions
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(2:36 pm ET) Brewers reliever Tyler Thornburg, who missed the second half of last season with an elbow injury, is throwing bullpen sessions as he tries to prepare for spring training, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Thornburg went 3-1 with a 4.25 ERA in 27 appearances before getting shut down in June.

Yu Darvish: 'My elbow feels fine'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(2:17 pm ET) Speaking publicly for the first time since he was shut down late last season with right elbow inflammation, Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish said he's feeling no ill effects now, reports MLB.com. Darvish, who's throwing off flat ground, is on track to begin throwing off a mound early next month.

"My elbow feels fine and I am able to throw on my throwing program," Darvish said, per the website.

Darvish has been working out in Texas during the offseason and said his training is "going well." General manager Jon Daniels said Darvish is "right on schedule."

"I think Darvish is very in tune with his body as much as anybody and knows how he's feeling," Daniels said. "He's very confident. Like any of these guys, until they're out there you're always going to have some reservation, but that's the worrywart in me. From all the information we have, I'm encouraged. He's basically been cleared to do just about everything."

Darvish's last start came Aug. 9 against Houston. He went 10-7 with a 3.06 ERA in 22 starts, tossing two complete games and one shutout.


Brewers reliever Jim Henderson throwing again
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1:13 pm ET) Brewers reliever Jim Henderson, who had shoulder surgery last August, began throwing off a mound last week and will toss bullpen sessions this week, reports MLB.com. Henderson hopes to be 100 percent by Opening Day, the report added.

Henderson was limited to 14 appearances last season. He went 2-1 with a 7.15 ERA.


Ryan Braun says his thumb feels 'significantly better'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1:05 pm ET) Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun, who underwent a thumb procedure last October, said his thumb feels "significantly better" than at this time last year, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Braun was plagued throughout last season by a nerve issue at the base of his thumb, the paper noted.

"Knock on wood, I feel great; it feels really good," Braun told reporters.

"Everything is going well. Regular offseason, regular routine. I started hitting a little bit earlier than I typically do, just to see how it felt. So far, so good. It feels really good.

"I do everything I regularly do. I don't hit off live pitching but I take regular batting practice like we would during the season, and it feels good. I don't feel anything at all."

Added Braun: "I know it's significantly better than where it was this time last year, which I'm encouraged by. But as I told you guys the last time I saw everybody (at Thanksgiving) the real test will come in spring training, once we've played games for a couple of weeks and that everyday wear and tear. See how it recovers, see how it responds."


Stiff competition for fifth spot in Mariners' rotation
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:16 pm ET) Taijuan Walker, Roenis Elias and Erasmo Ramirez are the leading candidates for the fifth spot in the Mariners' starting rotation, reports the Tacoma News Tribune. "The more competition, the better," Walker told the paper.

"It brings out the best of everyone who is fighting for the spot."

Walker posted a 1.96 ERA in six outings last September after being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma.


Report: Yankees decline reconciliation with Alex Rodriguez
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:50 am ET) After meeting with new Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred to clear the air over his year-long suspension in 2014, Alex Rodriguez also reached out to the Yankees to set up a meeting, but was turned down, reports the New York Post.

Rodriguez requested to meet with the Yankees to apologize for his role in the Biogenesis scandal, but was told to wait until spring training. Reports also surfaced that Rodriguez is looking noticeably thinner compared to recent seasons, a source told the New York Post.

Rodriguez is set to report to spring training Feb. 25.


Rockies' Boone Logan appears to be fully healthy
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:33 am ET) Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich said pitcher Boone Logan has completely recovered from elbow issues that ended his 2014 season, reports The Denver Post.

Boone struggled in 2014 and was placed on the disabled list with elbow inflammation. He produced a 6.84 ERA over 25 innings.


Report: Yelich, Hechavarria turn down offers from Marlins
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:21 am ET) The Marlins are no longer discussing multiyear contracts with outfielder Christian Yelich and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, reports the Miami Herald.

A significant gap between Yelich and the Marlins has caused contract talks on a long-term deal to stall. Hechavarria turned down the Marlins' multiyear contract because the offer was not significant enough. He can become a free agent after the 2018 season, while Yelich can become a free agent after 2019.


 
 
 
Rankings