The Royals are next in line for the Fantasy Top 5 series, where we rank the top 5 fantasy players on each major league team. The Royals shored up their starting rotation last offseason, trading for James Shields and Ervin Santana, but a result of that was the loss of outfield prospect Wil Myers in the Sheilds trade,
The Royals finished the 2013 season with am 86-76 record, seven games behind the division winning Detroit Tigers and six games behind the Cleveland Indians. They will need some of their young talent, like Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon, Billy Butler and others to step up if they want to make the wild card in 2014.
So, who are the Royals top 5 fantasy players for 2014? Let's take a look:
1. Eric Hosmer
Brian Creagh wrote a terrific piece on Hosmer last week in his Progress, Regress, Anyone's Guess series, where he goes into great detail as to what changes Hosmer made to bounce back in 2013, and that the changes are real. And I agree. Hosmer had a solid 2013 season after a dismal 2012, hitting .302-.353-.448 with 17 HRs, 86 runs, 79 RBI and 11 stolen bases. He did all this after hitting .250 and .269 in April and May, with just one home run and 16 RBI. From June 1 on, Hosmer hit .303 or better in each of the next four months, hitting for more power as well. If he can carry this over into 2014, he could hit 20+ home runs, score 90 runs, drive in 90 runs and steal double digit bags again.
2. Alex Gordon
Gordon is one of my favorite American League players, mainly due to the fact that he went from being one of the top prospects in the game, to a bust, to an All Star and three time Gold Glove winner. Gordon has the potential to hit 20 or more home runs, with 90+ runs scored, 70-80 RBI and double digit steals. His line drive rate dropped a bit last season, negatively impacting his BABIP and batting average. I think we see him bounce back to the .290-.300 batting average level with 20 home runs, 90 runs scored and 80ish RBI in 2014.
3. James Shields
Shields will be forever known as the pitcher traded for Wil Myers. Sure, there were other players involved in the trade, but Shields and Myers are the two every one is going to remember. He had a terrific 2013 season, winning 13 games with a 3.15 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 1.24 WHIP and a 196-68 strikeout to walk rate in 228.2 innings for the Royals. He has now won 13 or more games in five of the last six seasons, and after a couple years of ERAs north of 4.00, Shields has kept his ERA in the 2.80 - 3.50 range, with a strikeouts per nine hovering around 8.0 K/9 and a walks per nine in the 2.50 BB/9 range
4. Billy Butler
Country Breakfast had his worst season as a major leaguer, a season after his best season. Butler hit "just" .289-.374-.412 with 15 HRs, 62 runs and 82 RBI despite playing every game. His runs scored total was the worst of his career, and the RBI total was his lowest since 2010. His 15 home runs showed that the 29 he hit last season is probably a career high for him and not repeatable. He is just not a good power hitter, but he is a solid hitter. He's better than James Loney, but how much better is the question. 2014 will be a big season for him.
5. Greg Holland
I didn't want to pick a closer in my top five for 2014, but Holland is one of the more dominant closers in the game. Last season, Holland saved 47 games, blowing 3 saves, with a 1.21 ERA, 1.36 FIP, a 0.87 WHIP and an excellent 13.84 K/9. He doesn't walk many batters and keeps the ball in the ball park, so he will probably rank in my top 5 closers for 2014.
Who did I miss? Should someone else rank in the Royals Top 5 for 2014? Let me hear it in the comments section.
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