The Royals are coming off a poor 2019 season, winning just 59 games while being outscored by 178 runs, both the fourth worst marks in MLB. Kansas City also posted the fourth worst offense by wOBA and fourth pitching staff by ERA. Heading into 2020, the Royals have a few key hitters who carry strong fantasy relevance, but their pitching staff is expected to be among the worst in MLB. DraftKings Sportsbook has slotted the Royals as the team with the fifth longest odds to win the 2020 World Series.
Why should you be wary of Salvador Perez this season?
— Division Winner: +10000
— League Winner: +25000
— World Series: +50000
Maikel Franco, 3B
2020 Fantasy MVP
Jorge Soler, OF
Soler was once one of the top prospects in baseball, peaking as the 12th best prospect prior to 2015 on Baseball America’s list. It took a few seasons, but Soler had his breakout in 2019, launching 48 dingers, third most among all players. His .304 isolated power was sixth best among qualified hitters. Soler displayed elite endurance, playing in all 162 games, which contributed to excellent fantasy volume. Soler drove in 117 runs, tied for seventh most, and scored a solid 95 runs. Some of Soler’s key peripheral statistics were also highly encouraging. Soler’s exit velocity and batted ball angle derived expected wOBA of .392 was even better than his actual wOBA of .378, which suggests that Soler was striking the ball well all season. Soler’s expected wOBA based on his contact quality ranked 11th best among all hitters to record at least 500 plate appearances, which suggests that his production was not a fluke. It’s reasonable to expect some degree of home run regression from 2019, especially if the 2020 baseball is no longer juiced, but Soler looks primed to continue to produce in 2020.
2020 Fantasy LVP
Salvador Perez, C
It doesn’t take too much to return fantasy value at the light-hitting catcher’s position, which is easily the least productive offensive position league wide. However, the major issue with Perez could be timing up major league pitching, as he has not seen a pitch in an MLB game since September 2018 after missing the entire 2019 season due to injury. Perez will also turn 30 years old this season, and catchers tend to hit their decline years faster than other positions due to the rigors of the position. Perez could eventually turn it on as his timing returns, but he could be a risk to struggle out of the gate due to missing the entire 2019 season.
2020 Breakout Player
Adalberto Mondesi, SS
Mondesi has been on the cusp of a breakout for a while, but he hasn’t been able to put together the type of fantasy volume needed for elite performance. In 2018, Mondesi stole 32 bases and hit 14 home runs in just 291 plate appearances, but he did not become an every day player until the second half of the season. In 2019, Mondesi was limited to 443 plate appearances in 103 games due to multiple shoulder injuries, the second of which required surgery. With the MLB season expected to be significantly delayed, Mondesi should have enough time to be ready for a full workload once the season begins. Provided Mondesi is able to stay on the field, he carries huge stolen base upside. Despite playing in just 177 games over the last two seasons, Mondesi has stolen 75 bases, tied for third most among all players from 2018-19. Mondesi also showcases some pop, posting a .186 isolated power over that stretch, which is better than average. Mondesi’s one major flaw is poor on base skills, as he chases substantially more pitches located outside of the strike zone than average and runs a low walk rate. If Mondesi is able to improve his selection and draw more walks, it could help fuel even more stolen bases.
The Royals have fantasy relevance offensively, as Jorge Soler, Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi are all strong candidates to be top 100 fantasy performers, with Hunter Dozier also on the fringes after a plus 2019 season. However, the Royals’ pitching staff is expected to be among the worst in the league. Kansas City’s top starter is Brad Keller, who was better than average at preventing runs in 2019, but struck out just 17% of batters and walked 10%, which could make his plus run prevention difficult to sustain. Kansas City does not possess the pitching firepower to compete with the top of the division and appears likely to battle with the Detroit Tigers for last place in the AL Central.
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