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2020 MLB Team Preview: Kansas City Royals Predictions, Betting Odds, Picks

Timothy Finnegan provides his thoughts on what the 60-game MLB season could look like for the Royals.

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 worst 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 tied for the least likely team to win the 2020 World Series.

The Royals have been hit by COVID-19 in summer camp, as Salvador Perez, Brad Keller and Ryan O’Hearn were among multiple Royals players to test positive for the virus. However, Perez has re-joined the team after being cleared and is expected to start at catcher on opening day. Keller has also re-joined the Royals, but his status for the first week of the season is less clear.

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DraftKings Sportsbook odds

— Division Winner: +9000

— League Winner: +25000

— World Series: +50000

For a full list of available bets, head over to DraftKings Sportsbook or download the DK Sportsbook app.

Key Departures:

RP Tim Hill

Key Acquisitions:

OF Franchy Cordero, 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 on a per game basis 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 also turned 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. The season being shorted to 60 games also gives Perez less time to get going.

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 cut down to just 60 games, Mondesi is finally primed to be in position for huge volume on a per game basis provided he is able to stay on the field.

In particular, Mondesi carries massive 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 pitch selection and draw more walks, it could help fuel even more stolen bases.

Final Thoughts

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 in the mix after a solid 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 should be battling the Detroit Tigers for last place in the AL Central.

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is timfinn521) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.

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