2021 Fantasy Baseball: Kansas City Royals Team Outlook - Youth Movement in Pitching Staff Bring Hope For Future

Get the inside scoop! 2021 fantasy baseball player profiles, team analysis and stat projections for Kansas City Royals hitters and pitchers
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2021 Kansas City Royals

The only bright spot for the Royals over the last three seasons is that the Tigers have been a worse AL Central team. Kansas City went 143-241 (.372 winning percentage) over this span. They’ve made the postseason three times over the past 36 years, but the Royals won two World Series (1985 and 2015) while also losing in the San Francisco Giants in 2014.

In 2020, their pitching staff did have an improvement in their ERA (4.30 – 12th) after finishing 27th in 2019 (5.20 ERA). Kansas City ranked 23th in runs scored (248) and 20th in home runs (68).

Their top three signings in free agency were 1B Carlos Santana, OF Michael Taylor, and SP Mike Minor. Kansas City acquired OF Andrew Benintendi in a three-way deal with the Mets and Red Sox for OF Franchy Cordero and minor league prospect OF Khalil Lee. 

Kansas City has a core of batters that should rank above the league average as a group. Their power should come from C Salvador Perez, OF Jorge Soler, OF Andrew Benintendi, and 1B Carlos Santana. SS Adalberto Mondesi offers difference-maker with some power, while OF Whit Merrifield has been a rock at the top lineup over the past four years.

The ninth inning comes down to a battle between RP Greg Holland's veteran arm and the development of RP Josh Staumont. The Royals did take a flier on the fading RP Wade Davis.

The first piece of an upside starting young staff came with success from SP Brady Singer in 2020. Kansas City also has four other first-round arms in their system (SP Kris Bubic, SP Jackson Kowar, SP Asa Lacy, and SP Daniel Lynch.

The Royals are an improving team that needs the core of their young pitchers to flourish in the majors at the same time. A move to .500 in 2021 would be a successful season.

Kansas City Royals Adalberto Mondesi

Starting Lineup

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1. OF Whit Merrifield

It took Merrifield eight seasons in the minors to reach Kansas City, but his bat has been worth the wait of the past four years. He led the American League in at-bats in 2019 (681) and 2020 (248) while ranking at the top of the league in hits in 2018 (192) and 2019 (206).

His average hit rate (1.557) limits his ceiling in home runs to 15 with 550 at-bats. Merrifield has been excellent with runners on base in his career (RBI rate of 69.9). Last season he did have regression in his contact batting average (.326 – .371 over his previous two years), but his batting average (.282) remained an asset thanks to the lowest strikeout rate (12.5) in his career.

Merrifield had a bump in his fly-ball rate (37.4 – 35.7 in his career) while setting a career-best in his HR/FB rate (11.3). He finished as the 13th highest scoring player in SIscore (2.71) in 2020 after placing 11th and 23rd over the previous two years.

Over the last four seasons, he hit .297 with 311 runs, 56 home runs, 242 RBI, and 111 steals over 2,148 at-bats.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: There is something to be said for volume of at-bats, which has been a significant asset for Merrifield over the last three years (only four combined missed games). In 12-team leagues, his ADP (42) paints him as a fourth piece to the puzzle while still looking like a value (28th hitter drafted) based on his overall production. Merrifield contributes in all five categories, but his ceiling may be 15 home runs and 25 stolen bases while projecting to offer an edge in batting average and runs.

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2. SS Adalberto Mondesi

In his third year with starting at-bats for the Royals, Mondesi only missed one game after sitting out 60 contests in 2020. Last year, his stats projected over 550 at-bats came to 83 runs, 15 home runs, 55 RBI, and 60 steals.

Mondesi continues to whiff (strikeout rate – 29.7 in his career) out of more upside while also having a shallow walk rate (4.3). He can overcome his shortfall in contact thanks to a high contact batting average (.384, .385, and .376 from 2018 to 2020). His average hit rate (1.625) was below his success in the minors and majors in 2017 and 2018.

In 2020, his bat appeared to be a lost cause over his first 37 games (24-for-134 with 11 runs, no home runs, three RBI, and eight steals). Mondesi was a complete beast over the final three weeks of the season (32-for-85 with 22 runs, six home runs, 19 RBI, and 16 steals), but his strikeout rate (29.0) barely improved over this stretch.

Last year he had an extremely low line drive rate (12.5 – 18.3 in his career). Mondesi tried to drive the ball, leading to a rise in his fly-ball rate (39.0) while falling short of his career average (12.3) in his HR/FB rate (11.3). Keep in mind that Mondesi had left shoulder surgery after the 2019 season, which was part of his slow start.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: In the 2021 draft season, a fantasy owner drafting from an early position will have a unique opportunity to build a massive edge in steals by adding Mondesi to Ronald Acuna or Fernando Tatis. Mondesi has an ADP of 23 in the 12-team draft season in February. His speed advantage led to him ranking 10th in SIscore (3.66) in 2020. If he ever gets his plate discipline under control, Mondesi will be a massive difference-maker to fantasy teams, thanks to his ability to steal over 60 bases. For now, his batting average will be a liability, but I could see 20+ home runs with 80 runs and 80 RBI.

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3. OF Andrew Benintendi

Benintendi ended up being a wasted draft pick in 2020 after stumbling out of the gate. His season ended in mid-August with a rib injury. He struggled to make contact (strikeout rate – 32.7) with no value with runners on base (one RBI in 37 chances).

In 2019, Benintendi failed to live up to expectations. His strikeout rate (22.8) was a career-high, with regression in his walk rate (9.6). When he put the ball in play, his contact batting average (.359) fell in line with 2018 (.355) while repeating his career resume in his average hit rate (1.618).

From June 1st and August 31st, Benintendi hit .302 with 36 runs, six home runs, and 40 RBI over 275 at-bats. His season started with minor leg and foot injuries while picking up multiple other small issues along the way.

Benintendi didn’t have an edge in his hard-hit rate (37.7), but he did rank higher in ball hit 95 MPH or more (87th). His fly-ball rate (40.7) is trending upward, but his HR/FB rate (7.9) is well below the game's top power hitters.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: The luster of his draft value is long gone based on his early ADP (234) in mid-February. His foundation skill set gives him a chance at 20/20 season while being an asset in batting average. Benintendi could be a big mover in drafts with a successful spring training. The Royals should hit him in a favorable part of the batting order.

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4. OF Jorge Soler

Soler turned in a dull season in 2020 while missing 16 of the final 20 games with back and oblique issues. His stats projected over 550 at-bats came to 63 runs, 30 home runs, 89 RBI.

His contact batting average (.382) has been in a tight range over his previous four seasons. Soler set a career-high in his RBI (19) while maintaining a high average hit rate (1.941). He finished with the 28th highest hard-hit rate (50.0).

Soler finished with a career-high strikeout rate (34.5 – 27.9 in his career). He continues to have a favorable walk rate (10.9). His HR/FB rate (22.9) was a step back from 2019 (28.1).

In 2019, Soler turned into a power beast (48 home runs and 117 RBI) while staying healthy for the whole season. He set career-highs in games (162) and strikeouts (178), which led to the American League-high in both areas.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: If Soler could get his strikeout rate under control, his ceiling would be much higher. His swing path and foundation skill set give him a shot at 40+ home runs with over 90 RBI if he can stay healthy. At this point of his career, batting average risk has to be expected. Soler has an early ADP of 141 as the 38th batter off the board.

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5. 1B Carlos Santana

After finally posted a positive batting average (.281) in 2019, Santana was dismal in his contact batting average (.252) while finishing with his lowest batting average (.199).

Despite his struggles, he led the American League in walks (47) while on a path for 91 runs, 21 home runs, and 80 RBI with 550 at-bats.

In his career, Santana has only been a league-average player in his RBI rate (14). His strikeout rate (16.9) remains low, with an exceptional walk rate (18.4 – 15.5 in his career).

His HR/FB rate (12.3) tends to be in a weak area. In 2019, he set a career-high (19.3) in this area.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: Santana falls into a steady option in runs, home runs, and RBI while falling short in batting average in almost every season. His approach points to a much better hitter, but his hard-hit rate (36.6) is league average at best. Santana has an ADP of 278 in the 12-team high-stakes leagues in mid-January. Based on his ability in three-categories, he looks like a value, while his batting average could also come in much higher than expected.

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6. C Salvador Perez

After missing all of 2019 with TJ surgery on his right elbow, Perez turned in an impact season (.333 with 22 runs, 11 home runs, and 32 RBI over 150 at-bats) in 2020 despite missing over three weeks with an eye issue.

When in the starting lineup, his contact batting average (.439) was well above any season in the majors. Perez also had a spike in his strikeout rate (23.1 – 16.3 in his career). He finished with a jump in his HR/FB rate (25.6 – 12.4 in his career) while losing his fly-ball swing path (37.4 percent – 47.0 in 2017 and 45.0 in 2018).

Perez offered a dominating bat against right-handed pitching (.357 with eight home runs and 24 RBI over 115 at-bats).

2021 Fantasy Outlook: His floor in home runs looks to be about 25 while having the talent to push to the mid-30s if he can squeeze out some extra at-bats at first base or DH. Perez will be the second catching drafted in many leagues with an ADP of 84. His production in runs had always been low due to his slow foot speed, and I can’t trust his batting average to be an asset. Possible 30/90 hitter that looks overpriced in 2021 if his batting average falls below .260. Perez does hit the ball well with runners on base.

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7. 3B Hunter Dozier

Dozier started 2020 with 16 missed games with a battle with Covid. When he returned to the starting lineup, his bat was inconsistent with fade in September (.165 over 79 at-bats with two home runs and four RBI).

He finished with a high strikeout rate (25.8), but it wasn’t much different from 2019 (25.3) when his bat had much more success. Dozier did have a career-high walk rate (14.5), helping his run rate (46).

In 2019, Dozier proved to be a great waiver wire find in deep leagues when he set career-highs in runs (75), home runs (26), RBI (84), and batting average (.279). He is a former first-round draft pick (eighth overall in 2013.

His swing path tends to balance with a slight favor to line drives. Dozier didn’t have an impactful HR/FB rate in 2019 (15.6) or 2020 (13.6).

2021 Fantasy Outlook: Over what amounts to two full seasons of at-bats in the majors, Dozier hit .254 with 144 runs, 43 home runs, 131 RBI, and eight steals over 1,062 at-bats. His ADP (246) is an area where he could be considered a back-end corner infield option in 15-team leagues or a possible DH in 12-team leagues. His hard-hit rate (30.9), paired with his high strike rate, suggests his success in 2019 may not be repeatable. Invest in a 70/20/70 hitter with the hopes of finishing with improvement in his approach.

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8. OF Michael Taylor

The Nationals gave Taylor plenty of chances to prove his worth from 2015 to 2018 when he hit .240 with 178 runs, 46 home runs, 160 RBI, and 71 steals over 1,445 at-bats. In the end, his strikeout rate (31.2) over this span set the tone for a bench role.

Over the last two seasons, Washington used him mainly as an injury replacement with one or two starts a week when their outfield was healthy. Taylor hit .222 over his last 180 at-bats with 21 runs, six home runs, 19 RBI, and six steals. These stats projected over 540 at-bats would come to 63 runs, 18 home runs, 57 RBI, and 18 stolen bases, which is that far off from being a starting fantasy player.

His minor league resume (.256 with 351 runs, 62 home runs, 321 RBI, and 154 steals over 2,310 at-bats) gave him a chance at being a 20/30 player down the road.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: Taylor will compete for starting at-bats for the Royals in 2021. His balance skill set in power and speed can offset some of his shortfall in batting average. I expect him to be a streaky player, which will work as an injury replacement if he’s in the lineup every day. Taylor will be found in the free-agent pool in almost every fantasy league this season.

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9. 2B Nicky Lopez

Lopez comes to the majors with a good approach (strikeout rate – 8.8 and walk rate – 10.6) while lacking a power swing.

Over four seasons in the minors, he hit .296 with 224 runs, 20 home runs, 133 RBI, and 69 stolen bases over 1,368 at-bats.

In 2019, his season started with success at AAA (.353 with three home runs, 13 RBI, and nine steals over 116 at-bats). Alberto Mondesi's injury created a starting opportunity for the Royals for 91 games (.240 with two home runs and 30 RBI over 379 at-bats).

Last season, Lopez had a meager contact batting average (.266) and a Judy-like average hit rate (1.324), leading to no value in any fantasy format.

His strikeout rate (15.5) and walk rate (9.4) with the Royals came below his minor league resume.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: Without more strength, Lopez will hit at the bottom of the batting order while being a tough out with runners on base. His speed resume gives him 25+ stolen base upside early in his career if he decides to run (no career steals in the majors). Overall, Lopez has no value at this point of his career, even with the starting second base job for Kansas City.

Bench Options

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OF Edward Olivares

Over six seasons in the minors, Olivares hit .274 with 317 runs, 52 home runs, 249 RBI, and 103 steals over 1,824 at-bats. His highlight season came in 2019 at AA (.283 with 18 home runs, 77 RBI, and 35 stolen bases over 488 at-bats).

His strikeout rate (16.6) was favorable in the minors while having a below-par walk rate (6.7).

Last season Olivares made the Padres in July thanks to an extended roster. Despite not seeing at-bats at AAA in his career, he finished with a half-season of games (31) in majors (.240 with three home runs and 10 RBI). His approach (strikeout rate – 24.8 and walk rate – 4.0) came below his minor league resume.

The Royals picked him up midseason for RP Trevor Rosenthal.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: Olivares should start the year at AAA, but his bat may offer more upside than Franchy Cordero and Michael Taylor. His upside in stolen bases is intriguing while also owning enough power to hit 20 home runs with 550 at-bats. Not a top prospect but a viable bench player in deep leagues if given starting at-bats with Kansas City.

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1B Ryan O’Hearn

O’Hearn struggled over the last two seasons with the Royals (.195 with 39 runs, 16 home runs, and 56 RBI over 441 at-bats), making him a bench player from now on if he makes the team out of spring training.

Over six seasons in the minors, O’Hearn hit .272 with 104 home runs, 353 RBI, and 16 steals over 2,187 at-bats. He has over 20 home runs in each of his last five years between the minors and the majors.

His walk rate (10.7) projects to be above the league average while needing to shave off some of his strikeouts (25.1 percent – 26.9 with the Royals in his career).

His average hit rate (1.891) graded well in 2019, but it fell to a weak area last year (1.545).

O’Hearn finished with a much lower contact batting average over the last two seasons (.279 and .289) in the major.

He looks dead in the water vs. left-handed pitching (.167 with three home runs, eight RBI, and 40 strikeouts over 102 at-bats).

2021 Fantasy Outlook: O’Hearn is a low average power hitter with a platoon role. With 450 at-bats, I could see 25 home runs with 65 RBI, but that looks unlikely with Carlos Santana added to the roster.

Meibrys Viloria (C): Viloria hit .280 over 1,468 at-bats in the minors with 24 home runs, 216 RBI, and 10 stolen bases in his six seasons. Over his 181 at-bats with the Royals, he hit .215 with one home run and 15 RBI.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: Viloria will compete for the backup catcher role in 2021. His bat needs to improve, which will most likely come at AAA.

Ryan McBroom (1B): McBroom played well over his previous two seasons at AAA (.306 with 37 HRs and 112 RBI over 772 at-bats). Over six seasons in the minors, he hit .288 with 102 home runs, 430 RBI, and 20 stolen bases over 2,591 at-bats. His walk rate (8.0) and strikeout rate (20.9) are about league average.

Over the last two seasons off the bench for Kansas City, McBroom hit .269 with six home runs and 16 RBI over 156 at-bats. His strikeout rate (32.7) has been much too high in the majors.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: McBroom is a better player than he’s shown at this point of his career. He needs to make better contact, but his opportunity looks minimal if he makes the team out of spring training.

Bubba Starling (OF): Starling was selected in the first round in 2011 as the fifth overall pick. Over eight seasons in the minors, he hit .244 with 69 home runs, 304 RBI, and 81 steals over 2,484 at-bats. Starling still strikes out too much (26.5 percent).

In 2019, he played better at AAA (.310 with seven home runs, 38 RBI, and nine stolen bases over 261 at-bats).

In the majors, Starling hit .204 with five home runs and 17 RBI over 245 at-bats while striking out 31.8 percent of the time.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: Starling has no chance of winning a starting job in the majors. At age 28, his dream of becoming a starting player with the Royals is waning with each whiffed at-bat.

Kansas City Royals Brady Singer

Pitching Staff

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1. SP Brady Singer

After getting drafted 18th overall in 2018, Singer dominated in High A (1.87 ERA and 53 strikeouts over 57.2 innings) while holding his own at AA (7-3 with a 3.47 ERA and 85 strikeouts over 90.2 innings).

Over his final two seasons in college, he went 21-8 with a 2.90 ERA and 243 strikeouts over 239 innings.

His walk rate (2.4) in the minors is favorable while striking out 8.4 batters per nine.

With no minor league play in 2020, the Royals decided to give Singer a starting job in the majors. He allowed three runs or fewer in nine of his 12 starts, leading to a 4.06 ERA and 1.116 WHIP.

Home runs (eight allowed over 34.2 innings) were a problem over his first seven starts, but Singer finished the year with no balls leaving the yard over his final 29.2 innings.

Singer threw a sinker (93.6 MPH) as his top pitch, with batters hitting .232 against it. Five of his nine home runs allowed came off his slider despite being tough to hit (.212 BAA). He also threw a low-volume changeup (.167 BAA) with success.

His one negative was his higher walk rate (3.2), which was due to struggles with command against lefties (16 of his 23 walks over 129 at-bats).

2021 Fantasy Outlook: Singer has an ADP of 254 in 12-team leagues as the 83rd pitcher drafted in his sophomore season. With 148.1 innings pitched in 2019, I would expect a full season of starts for the Royals. His ERA and WHIP will be assets with a run at 175 strikeouts with better command. Singer is in my thoughts as a possible target as my SP4 in the 15-team high-stakes market.

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2. SP Kris Bubic

The Royals hit on a fourth starter in the 2018 draft class with Bubic. Kansas City added him in the first round (40th selection) after two successful seasons at Stanford (15-7 with a 2.71 ERA and 197 strikeouts over 176.1 innings). He finished his last year in college with strength in his strikeout rate (10.6) while still needing growth in his walk rate (3.3).

Bubic aced the 2019 season (11-5 with a 2.23 ERA and 185 strikeouts over 149.1 innings) while pitching at A Ball and High A.

Last season the jump from High A to the majors did leave some crooked numbers in ERA (4.32) and WHIP (1.480) while battling his first strike rate (48) and his command (4.0 walks per nine innings).

Despite three poor starts (13 runs, 30 baserunners, and four home runs over 13 innings), Bubic handled himself well in his other seven starts (two runs or less in each game with 2.68 ERA, 0.919 WHIP, and 38 strikeouts over 37 innings).

His first hurdle is solving lefties (.320 with six walks and five strikeouts over 25 at-bats).

His average fastball came in at 91.7 MPH while featuring a curveball (.174 BAA) and changeup (.244 BAA).

2021 Fantasy Outlook: Bubic isn’t a lock to make the starting rotation. He did enough to warrant an opportunity with the Royals, making sense for him to develop at the major league level. Bubic needs to throw more strikes to avoid disaster innings and bad starts. Waiver wide arm based on his early ADP (525) while offering the most risk in WHIP early in his career. Possible deep sleeper.

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3. SP Mike Minor

Minor has gone from tease to serviceable to bust in a matter of just three seasons, but each year he struggled with his HR/9 rate (2018 – 1.4, 2019 – 1.3, and 2020 – 1.7).

His best season came in 2013 (13-9 with a 3.21 ERA and 181 strikeouts over 204.1 innings), but he missed 2015 and 2016 with injuries.

After a successful year in the bullpen in 2017 (2.55 ERA), Minor posted a 4.18 ERA over 28 starts for the Rangers. The following season, he went 14-10 with a 3.59 ERA and 200 strikeouts over 208.1 innings.

In 2020, Minor finished with strength in his strikeout rate (9.8), but regression in his walk rate (3.2) and home runs allowed (11 over 56.2 innings) led a disaster season (5.56 ERA) despite having a lower WHIP (1.235) than 2019 (1.238). He allowed four runs or more in six of his 11 starts.

His AFB (91.2) was more than 1.5 MPH lower than 2019 and 3.5 MPH shorter than 2017. Minor commands an excellent changeup (.207 BAA), and his four-seam fastball (.226 BAA) wasn’t the problem. He lost the feel for his slider (.292 BAA with six home runs allowed over 48 at-bats), which was a possible hint from his stats in 2019 (slider – .314 BAA).

2021 Fantasy Outlook: The bet here comes on his WHIP (1.194) over the past three seasons instead of his ERA (4.07). I am concerned that the failure with his slider could be tied to an underlying elbow issue. Minor has an ADP of 298 in mid-January, showing that fantasy owners can see past his failure in 2020. Possible inning eater with help in ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts if Minor regains his previous form and adds a tick back to his velocity.

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4. SP Danny Duffy

After pitching well in 2016 over his first 19 starts (2.61 ERA and .978 WHIP with 126 strikeouts in 120.2 innings), Duffy hasn't been the same pitcher.

Over his last four seasons, he went 28-32 with a 4.42 ERA and 443 strikeouts over 488.1 innings, with most of the damage coming in 2018 (4.88 ERA) and 2020 (4.95 ERA) due to a considerable step back in his walk rate (4.1 and 3.5).

After the 2017 season, he has surgery in early October to clean up his left elbow. After seven lousy starts after the All-Star in 2018 (6.55 ERA), the Royals shut him down for the rest of the season with a bum left shoulder that carried to the beginning of 2019.

Last year Duffy had two disaster starts (12 runs, 23 baserunners, and four home runs over 9.2 innings), which masked his success in his other nine starts (3.30 ERA and 1.079 WHIP). Seven of his starts came on the road.

His AFB (92.5) continues to fade while falling short of his top value in 2016 (94.8 MPH). Duffy had success with his slider (.188 BAA) and four-seam fastball (231 BAA), but his sinker was a disaster (.467 BAA) with fade in his changeup (.282 BAA).

2021 Fantasy Outlook: Duffy surfs a fine-line between disaster and serviceable innings. Unfortunately, the bad outweighs the good while being tough to time. Pretty much free (ADP of 496) if a fantasy owner wants to use him as a possible double starter.

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5. SP Brad Keller

The short season treated Keller well, even with a couple of missed starts at the beginning of the year due to Covid. He busted out of the gate with no runs allowed over his first 17.2 innings with 15 strikeouts.

Over his final six games, Keller turned into an every other start player. He allowed five, four, and five runs over 15.2 innings in his fourth, sixth, and eighth contests, followed up by one combined run over 21.1 innings in his odd week starts to finish the year.

Keller lowered his walk rate (2.8), but he continues to have a soft-tossing strikeout rate (5.8). His command failure comes against lefties (15 of his 17 walks over 117 at-bats).

Keller finished with a league-average fastball (93.1 MPH) while relying on a plus slider (.187 BAA) and a successful show-me changeup (no hits allowed on 22 pitches).

Over his first two years in the majors, he went 16-20 with a 3.68 ERA, 1.332 WHIP, and 218 strikeouts over 305.2 innings.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: Keller is improving, but he still lacks a swing-and-miss pitch to push his game to a higher level. His WHIP tends to be a liability, but improved command can solve that issue. Keller can only be used as a rotational starter in the season-long games without a bump in strikeouts. I’d shoot for more upside based on where he goes in drafts (ADP – 344).

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SP Jackson Kowar

Kowar came into the pros a couple of steps behind Brady Singer in draft value and college resume (25-6 with a 3.53 ERA and 243 strikeouts over 255 innings) while also ranking behind him on the depth chart at Florida.

His record (22-6) in 2017 and 2018 in college was impressive, but his walk rate (3.6) needed work while flashing some strikeout ability (8.6).

In 2019, Kowar matched Singer in starts (26) and innings pitched (148.1), but he lost the battle in ERA (3.52) and WHIP (1.240).

I have a soft spot for pitchers with an elite changeup, which Kowar brings to the majors, along with a fastball that can reach the upper 90s. Once his command improves and a pitching coach unlocks a winning breaking pitch, Kowar will offer ace upside.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: I expect Kowar to pitch in the majors in 2021 after not seeing the field in 2020 due to Covid. His command may lead to some up and down starts. I’m very interested in seeing his progress in spring training.

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SP Daniel Lynch

Based on his college resume (12-12 with 4.56 ERA and 186 strikeouts over 205.1), Lynch didn’t appear to offer first-round talent. His command made a massive forward in 2018 at Virginia, leading to a low walk rate (2.4) and an impressive strikeout rate (10.7).

The Royals added him as well in the first round of the 2018 drafts with the 34th pick.

Over two seasons in the minors, he went 11-3 with a 2.50 ERA and 157 strikeouts over 147.2 innings. In 2019, he made 15 of his 20 starts at High A, which suggests he’s trailing the top two arms in Kansas City by about a year.

This big lefty now offers a high-90s fastball with a swing and miss slider.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: Lynch needs to add more length to his starts while developing his changeup. In 2019, he did miss some development time with a left shoulder injury. Possible fast mover while starting 2021 at AA.

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CL Greg Holland

After struggling in 2018 and 2019 (3-4 with a 4.61 ERA, 88 strikeouts, and 20 saves over 82 innings). Holland appeared to be headed to the unemployment line. His failure was tied to lost command (6.1 walks per nine).

The Royals brought him back in 2020, and Holland threw the most strikes (walk rate – 2.2) of his career. He finished with a 1.91 ERA, 31 strikeouts, and six saves over 28.1 innings.

His AFB (93.0) remains below his best seasons in baseball, but it was 1.3 MPH faster than 2019 (91.7 MPH). Holland had success with his slider (.188 BAA) and four-seam fastball (.182 BAA), but he lost the feel of his curveball (.444 BAA).

2021 Fantasy Outlook: With 212 career saves on his resume and success in 2020, Holland should have the first shot at the ninth inning for the Royals in 2021. Based on his ADP (254), there isn’t much downside, especially when adding a possible handcuff in Kansas City’s bullpen later in the draft. The bottom line here is command and velocity. If Holland loses one of the two, he could be in for a long season.

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RP Josh Staumont

Staumont struggled as a starter in the minors in 2016 (4.23 ERA) and 2017 (5.56 ERA) while walking well over 7.0 batter per nine innings. In 2018, the Royals pushed him to the bullpen to shorten his pitching options to improve his command.

His ERA was much improved at AAA in 2018 (3.51) and 2019 (3.16), with strength in his strikeout rate (12.5 and 13.0). He still walked too many batters (6.4 per nine) while being tougher to hit (.217 and .172 BAA). In his first trip to the majors in 2019, Staumont had a 3.72 ERA, but he struggled with home runs (1.9 per nine) and a lower strikeout rate (7.0). He did lower his walk rate (4.7) over 19.1 innings.

Last season Staumont flashed in the Royals’ bullpen, leading to a lower ERA (2.45) and a bump in his strikeout rate (13.0). He did give back some of his gain in his command (5.6 walks per nine).

His AFB (98.2) was elite with success with his curveball (.172 BAA).

2021 Fantasy Outlook: Staumont isn’t quite ready to close to his high number of runners put on base via the walk. The foundation of his skill set is getting exciting if he can throw more strikes. Possible handcuff and flier with a free ADP (498). A hint of growth with his improved first-pitch strike rate (64) in 2020.

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RP Jesse Hahn

Hahn doesn’t have much of a resume in the majors at age 31, but he has flashed over short periods a couple of times in his career.

As a starter in 2014 and 2015, he went 13-10 with a 3.23 ERA and 134 strikeouts over 170 innings with the Padres and A’s.

After missing 2018 with a right elbow injury that required surgery (not TJ surgery), Hahn saw minimal time at any level in 2019 (8.1 combined innings).

Last year Kansas City called him up in mid-August, and he rewarded them with 17.1 strong innings (one run, 19 strikeouts, and three saves).

His AFB (95.9) was the best of his career while offering a plus curveball (no hits allowed over 100 pitches) and low-volume slider (.111 BAA).

For comparison, Hahn posted a 2.93 ERA in his minor league career with 238 strikeouts over 270 innings.

2021 Fantasy Outlook: This season, Hahn looks to be a dark horse for saves in the Royals’ bullpen. His success is short, but he had enough velocity and command to pitch well late in games. An interesting follow this spring to see if Hahn gets any positive reports and momentum toward the ninth inning. 


2021 Fantasy Baseball Team Outlooks

American League

East: BAL / BOS / NYY / TAM / TOR
Central: CWS / CLE / DET / KC / MIN
West: HOU / LAA / OAK / SEA / TEX

National League

East: ATL / MIA / NYM / PHI / WAS
Central: CHC / CIN / MIL / PIT / STL
West: ARI / COL / LAD / SD / SF