Pressing Questions: Kansas City Royals

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Danny Duffy looks like a future star (Getty Images)
Danny Duffy looks like a future star (Getty Images)

The Royals improbably went to back-to-back World Series from 2014-2015, winning the latter. They missed the playoffs last season, and they seem like a long shot to recapture their previous glory at 30/1 to win it all entering 2017, while Fangraphs projects them for a modest 77 wins. Kansas City has defied expectations before, but the Indians and Tigers look better on paper, so they have an uphill battle with plenty of things having to go their way to make the playoffs.

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Let’s take a look at some pressing questions…

Q: How good is Danny Duffy?

He had a 3.51 ERA with a 1.14 WHIP and struck out 188 batters over 179.2 innings last season. Duffy had a 12.9 SwStr% and is quickly developing into one of the best starters in major league baseball, as his 20.0 K-BB% ranked eighth best in MLB last season – a mark that ranked ahead of the previous three Cy Young winners in the AL. I’d treat Duffy as a top-20 fantasy starter and draft him aggressively.

Q: Is Eric Hosmer going to develop into a star?

Hosmer’s 25 homers and 104 RBI last season were both career highs, but it came with a .761 OPS and his lowest BA (.266) since 2012. Kauffman Stadium has decreased homers for LHB by 20 percent over the last three years, which is the second most in the AL over that span. Hosmer still has room to grow, and he’s affordable according to early ADP, but for those who expected a perennial All Star, Hosmer is apparently going to fall short.

Q: What’s Going On With Alex Gordon?

From 2011-2014, Gordon had the fourth-highest WAR among all outfielders in major league baseball. Of course, his strong defense was a big reason why, which didn’t exactly benefit fantasy owners like it did the Royals. Still, his OPS dropped from .809 in 2015 to .692 last season, and he’s mostly become an afterthought in fantasy circles. His ADP is 318, which makes him basically free, and this is a former No. 2 overall pick who’s 32 years old who still produced 25 homers/steals last season in 445 at-bats in arguably the worst campaign of his career. Gordon isn’t a bad late round flier to grab at this point.

Q: Who are some sleepers to target?

Jorge Soler clearly hasn’t lived up to expectations so far in his career, but there remains plenty of upside for the 24-year-old who’s going to be given every day at bats in 2017. The potential for a major breakout is here…Raul Mondesi offers nice SB upside for a dirt cheap option at middle infield…Fewer walks would be nice, but Matt Strahm struck out 30 batters over 22.0 innings during his MLB debut last season and will almost certainly be joining Kansas City’s rotation in 2017. The lefty is definitely a deep sleeper to target, even in mixed leagues.

Royals Projected Lineup

SS Alcides Escobar

3B Mike Moustakas

CF Lorenzo Cain

1B Eric Hosmer

C Salvador Perez

LF Alex Gordon

RF Jorge Soler

DH Brandon Moss

2B Whit Merrifield

Royals Projected Rotation

SP Danny Duffy

SP Ian Kennedy

SP Jason Hammel

SP Jason Vargas

SP Matt Strahm

CL Kelvin Herrera

RP Joakim Soria

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