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Josh Willingham and the Perfect Fit

The new Royals slugger couldn't have been a better fit for his new lineup. Decent chance he fits your fantasy lineup, too.

Jamie Squire

Sometimes, a player and a team just make sense. The Angels, desperate for a starting pitcher, put in a claim for Bartolo Colon, who the Mets put on waivers, giving them a wholly capable starting pitcher for free ...

Wait, what? They didn't? They let Colon pass by and be available for trade to any team?

Well, that was stupid.

Anyway, that was just an example. The real thing is this: The Royals have no power. Josh Willingham has very little besides power.

Their union was foretold in the ancient scrolls. It was also foretold in late May, when the Royals couldn't find a home run with a dowsing rod:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Royals 22, Edwin Encarnacion 18. By night&#39;s end, he may tie it.</p>&mdash; Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) <a href="">May 30, 2014</a></blockquote>
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Anyway, Willingham is owned in only 12 percent of Yahoo! leagues. There are, best I can tell, two reasons for this: His early-season injury, and his low batting average. Willingham played in six games for the Twins in March and April before breaking his wrist and hitting the DL, ultimately missing 41 games.

I get why that would be enough to discount Willingham as a fantasy option. He's 35, and last year was his first season with an OPS+ under 100. He entered the season with a .256 career batting average, and he hasn't hit even .270 since 2006. If you're trying to build a strong batting average on your fantasy team, sure, avoid Willingham. And if you were trying to build much of any team in May, a hurt Willingham coming off a bad year didn't make much sense.

But it's looking like, for now at least, 2013 was the blip, not the cliff.

Willingham is hitting .225/.353/.430 this season. He has 14 home runs in 317 plate appearances. His OPS+ of 119 is the seventh time in nine years it has been between 115 and 129. Now, on the Royals, he's the only real power threat the team has, and he has a full-time job, at least until Eric Hosmer's eventual return.

If you need batting average, no, I wouldn't look to Willingham. But batting average is something of a forgotten commodity in 2014 MLB as it is. A guy with a .225 batting average isn't helping you there, but he might not be outright hurting you like he would have been a decade ago. If he can get six to eight homers down the stretch - not remotely out of the question for a guy like Willingham - he will more than make up for his batting average deficiencies.

Adding a low-average, high-power bat to a high-average, low-power lineup is like adding an innings-eating, decent pitcher to a rotation with a bunch of question marks.

Oh, silly Angels.