The Royals headed into the 2011 season with a guarded sense of optimism. While the big league team was coming off yet another 95-plus loss season (their seventh in 10 seasons), their farm system exploded across the board. The organization was loaded with bright, young superstars that created a buzz within the industry that they may have the best collection of prospects in recent baseball history. The Royals looked forward to 2011 with a guarded sense of hope; after all, they had seen their fair share of top prospects flame out repeatedly over the past seasons. The team also traded Zack Greinke, their first legitimate ace since the heyday of Kevin Appier, and continued the Dayton Moore pattern of acquiring as many Atlanta Braves retreads as possible with the signings of Jeff Francouer and Melky Cabrera.
The tempered expectations were quickly escalated as Eric Hosmer began the season torching the Triple-A scene and getting an earlier-than-expected call to the majors. He was soon followed by a parade of young talent, including Danny Duffy, Johnny Giavotella, Greg Holland, Salvador Perez, and uber-prospect Mike Moustakas. While the results were mixed with some of the young talent, the team and fan base were energized with the fresh look and the realization that change was finally coming.
The final 71-91 record and fourth place finish still shows that the team has a long ways to go in order to bring “The Process” to fruition. Moore used this offseason to acquire the once unhittable Jonathan Sanchez, the former 102-mph fastball of Jonathan Broxton, and the former worst player in baseball in Yuniesky Betancourt. For Royals fans, the next wave of call-ups can’t come soon enough.
In “30 Teams in 30 Days,” the Fantasy Baseball Cafe will preview each team in Major League Baseball on a daily basis. In addition to projecting starting lineups, rotations and closing situations, the Cafe will identify potential targets for 2012 fantasy baseball drafts.
|C Salvador Perez||.331||.361||.473||20||3||21||0||148|
|1B Eric Hosmer||.293||.334||.465||67||19||78||11||523|
|2B Johnny Giavotella||.247||.273||.376||20||2||21||5||187|
|SS Alcides Escobar||.254||.290||.343||69||4||46||26||548|
|3B Mike Moustakas||.263||.309||.367||26||5||30||2||338|
|LF Alex Gordon||.303||.376||.502||101||23||87||17||611|
|CF Lorenzo Cain||.312||.380||.497||84||16||81||16||487||in AAA|
|RF Jeff Francoeur||.285||.329||.476||77||20||87||22||601|
|DH Billy Butler||.291||.361||.461||74||19||95||2||597|
Unsettled: Center Field. Lorenzo Cain was an interesting piece of the Zack Greinke deal. Coming off a decent debut with the Brewers in the 2010 season, he spent the majority of his inaugural season with the Royals in Triple-A while Melky Cabrera patrolled center field. Cain’s impressive season in the minors allowed for the Royals to send Cabrera packing to the Giants, but rumors of trade possibilities swirled around Cain during the offseason. Cain’s main competition will be the versatile Mitch Meier, who will look to steal the job away if Cain has any prolonged struggles with the bat.
Target: Billy Butler. While it is hard to pass over the allure of Eric Hosmer, Butler’s current MDP of nearly 70 picks later is the safer bet. His consistent average and strong on-base skills are rocks you can count on. His RBI count should continue to grow as the rest of the Royals lineup develops around him. It is hard to believe but Butler is still only 26 years old and just beginning to enter the prime of his career. In redraft leagues, don’t overpay for the flash of numbers that might be when you can get a deal for numbers you can count on.
|Luke Hochevar (R)||11-11||4.68||1.28||128||62||198.0|
|Bruce Chen (L)||12-8||3.77||1.30||97||50||155.0|
|Jonathan Sanchez (R)||4-7||4.26||1.44||102||66||101.1||w/SF|
|Felipe Paulino (R)||4-6||4.11||1.37||119||48||124.2|
|Danny Duffy (L)||4-8||5.64||1.64||87||51||105.1|
Unsettled: Rumors of a return to the rotation for Aaron Crow, the uncanny ability of Danny Duffy to miss the strike zone, and fringe prospects Everett Teaford and Luis Mendoza should make the spring battle for the final rotation spot interesting, but likely inconsequential for all but the deepest of fantasy leagues.
Target: Luke Hochevar. Just about everyone at one point has been asked the question “If you were stranded on deserted island and could only have one kind of food, what would it be?” Picking a Royals pitcher to target is somewhat like that, except the only dishes you could choose from are ones you hate. One might make you vomit, another might give you diarrhea, and another might break you out in a rash. Hochevar is the dish that just makes you gassy. Sure, it is uncomfortable and stinks like nothing else, but you are on a deserted island so it is not like you will be making many new friends anyways.
Hochevar started the 2011 season looking like an even worse version of the previous Hochevar. During the second half of the season, he finally started to find a groove, to the tune of a 6-3 record with a 3.68 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 68 Ks in 84 innings. While those numbers are certainly lofty expectations for Hochevar moving forward, it is better than peeing blood.
While none of the Royals pitchers inspire dreams of grandeur, it may be worth keeping a watch on both Duffy’s and Sanchez’s control early in the season, and whether Felipe Paulino can get his results to start matching his peripherals (3.73 xFIP with 8.6 K/9).
The 8th and 9th Innings
|Joakim Soria (R)||28||4.03||1.28||60||17||60.1|
|Jonathan Broxton (R)||22||4.04||1.48||73||28||62.1||in 2010|
|Greg Holland (R)||4||1.80||0.93||74||19||60.0|
Chasing Saves: With only 12 innings pitched last season, Broxton is an uncertainty that may have to work his way into being the primary set-up man. Holland’s 2011 performance was drool inducing with off-the-chart numbers across the board. But even following the worst season in the majors, Soria remains firmly entrenched in the closer’s role and looks to bounce back to regain his elite status.
There may not be much to like about the Royals pitching staff from a fantasy perspective, but for the first time in years, there are several Royals offensive players who can play key roles in the upcoming season. If the youngest team in baseball continues to develop, we could be looking at prominent members of the next class of fantasy superstars.
Check back tomorrow for our look at the Minnesota Twins.
Jason Nelson is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Jason in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of Tavish.
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