So as many of you know, I also am an avid fantasy baseball player and have contributed to Pitcher List, which is primarily a fantasy baseball website (I am writing again for Pitcher List, and hope to have an article out this week, which explains the long lull between posts).
While I try not to cross my Royals and fantasy baseball circles on this blog, the lockout has made it difficult to write stuff, especially since there seems to be no timetable of when it will end.
Thus, I wanted to bring in the fantasy baseball element on this blog in this post, with the main focus on Dynasty Fantasy Baseball, which I will be playing for the first time this year.
I have played in fantasy baseball leagues before with keepers, but never something to the extent of Dynasty play, which requires building a team with the mindset of an actual GM (i.e. you’re looking for production in the short AND long term). I imagine I will be going through my lumps in my first year of play, but I am still excited nonetheless.
Anyways, I wanted to take a look at where certain Royals ranked when it came to Dynasty value, and thus, I took a look at Fantrax’s Top 500 Dynasty rankings for 2022. There were plenty of Royals options, both currently on the 40-man roster, and prospects who may be more crucial in 2023 and beyond. That being said, where do they rank on Fantrax, and where do I think they should rank in Dynasty play, especially since I will be an active Dynasty player (I will actually be playing on Fantrax).
So, I will be ranking my Top 10 Royals players for Dynasty fantasy baseball and give a short blurb of why I think this Royals player ranks where they do in regard to Dynasty play and drafts for next season.
Hence, let’s take a look at the Top 10 Royals Dynasty rankings for 2022:
1. Bobby Witt, Jr.; SS/3B; Fantrax Ranking: 27th
Witt, Jr. is the top-ranked Royal in Fantrax’s Top-500 and for good reason: he is pretty much the future of this Royals organization. While Witt, Jr. is listed as a shortstop, I think he has the versatility to play third base, and it is likely that his quickest path to the Majors will be at the hot corner.
While Witt will be a major player in 2023 and beyond, I think it isn’t out of the realm of possibility to think that he’ll be a starting player on Opening Day, with injury to other players being the primary factor in regard to what position he will play. Honestly, I think there’s an 80-90 percent likelihood that he will be on the Opening Day roster, with a poor Spring Training campaign being the only factor that could prevent that reality.
If Dynasty players are looking for a future star prospect to draft who has the most potential to make an impact right away, Witt fits the bill and should be targeted early, as he could go as early as the first round in some Dynasty leagues.
2. Whit Merrifield; 2B/OF; Fantrax ranking: 53rd
Whit is coming off his worst season on a wRC+ end, as his 91 mark was the lowest since his rookie season in 2016 (which was also 91). A big concern was Whit’s power outage, as his .117 ISO was the second-lowest mark in that category in his career (his .109 ISO his rookie year was lower).
On a positive note, Whit continued to steal bases, as he swiped 40 bags on 44 attempts in 2021, the second time in his career that he had hit that 40 stolen base mark (the other time being in 2018 when he stole 45 bases). Thus, Whit’s ability to hit for a high average and steal a lot of bases makes him a Top-60 player in the eyes of Fantrax, and I think that also makes Whit the Royals’ most valuable “veteran” player in Dynasty leagues for 2022.
The big question will be if the power returns at least somewhat in 2022. The days of Whit being a 20-20 threat may be over, but a .300, 30-35 stolen base campaign with 100-plus runs will still make him a huge factor on fantasy rosters next season. Even 15 home runs will be a huge improvement for the Royals’ clubhouse leader. Granted, Whit isn’t getting any younger, as he’ll turn 33 next year. However, he’s a favorite of Mike Matheny, and he’ll continue to get at-bats from the leadoff spot, which only enhances his fantasy value.
3. Salvador Perez; C; Fantrax ranking: 80th
Salvy may be one of the best offensive catchers in baseball, and it makes sense why he cracks the Top-100 in Fantrax’s dynasty rankings. Salvy is coming off back-to-back Silver Slugger seasons, and his 48 home runs not only set a record for catchers but also tied the Royals home run record as well. Furthermore, Matheny’s usage of him in the designated hitter spot also increases his value, as Salvy will continue to get at-bats, even if he’s not behind the plate defensively.
Salvy hit .273, which is his best mark over a full season in 2013 (I didn’t count his .333 in 2020, as he only played 37 games). Can Salvy do that again, especially considering he struck out 25.6 percent of the time last season, a career-high? I think the power is legit, and Salvy will be a 30-35 home run guy who will chase 100-plus RBI with consistency over the next couple of seasons at the very least. That skill set is incredibly valuable for a catcher.
That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a little batting average regression from Salvy, even if he stays healthy, and gets over 600 plate appearances again in 2022.
4. Adalberto Mondesi, SS/UT; Fantrax ranking: 88th
Mondesi is the ultimate tease. He failed to stay healthy last year, as he garnered only 136 plate appearances. While Mondesi hit six home runs and stole 15 bases in 35 games (and posted an ISO of .222), he still struck out 31.6 percent of the time and only hit .230, both pretty lackluster marks.
There were times when Mondesi looked like he could be the Royals’ version of Javy Baez or Byron Buxton. However, he’ll need to stay healthy and find SOME consistency at the plate if he wants to make that comparison a full-blown reality in 2022 and beyond.
It seems like this will be a “make-or-break” year for Mondesi, especially with Witt’s promotion looming, and Nicky Lopez coming off a solid season as the Royals’ shortstop in 2021. I have been burned on Mondesi before in fantasy baseball, so it’s hard for me to recommend him in Dynasty formats, especially with no clear position set for him in 2022.
However the skill set is hard to ignore for Dynasty manager, and if he falls in drafts, he’s worth taking a flier on, even if it is likely that he’ll be more “bust” than “boom”.
5. MJ Melendez; C; Fantrax ranking: 280th
I know Salvy is still slated to be the Royals catcher in 2022, but I think it’s going to be harder and harder to keep Melendez down in Triple-A, especially when he’s doing things like this in the Bahamas below:
Right now, Melendez is on the 40-man roster, which means that his path to Kansas City is easier than Witt, who hasn’t been added yet to the 40-man. That being said, the Royals still have Cam Gallagher and Sebastian Rivero, which makes it harder for Melendez to make the Opening Day roster, as I imagine the Royals will continue to want him to get every day at-bats and continue to develop his defense and pitch-calling behind the plate. That isn’t going to happen with Salvy and a couple of other decent backups on the roster.
That being said, the power and plate approach (0.82 BB/K ratio in Omaha last year) seems legit and MLB-ready. Even though he may not break Spring camp with the Royals, he will be called up soon enough, especially if he continues to mash Triple-A pitching.
6. Nick Pratto; 1B; Fantrax ranking: 254th
Pratto is ranked higher than Melendez according to Fantrax, and I get that Pratto’s path to the Major Leagues could be easier if Carlos Santana is traded this offseason.
However, I worry about Pratto’s high strikeout rates in Northwest Arkansas (29.1 percent) and Omaha (28.5 percent). Yes, I know he generated a lot of walks, which made the strikeouts more palatable. That being said, it’s harder to maintain that approach against Major League pitchers, especially initially. I think Pratto may have an adjustment period at the Major League level in 2022, and it won’t be until 2023 when Royals fans see Pratto truly become the hitter he can be.
Furthermore, Santana is still a Royal, and due to his veteran status, he’ll be the Royals’ Opening Day first baseman, as long as he’s healthy. I think the Royals will try to play Santana in 2022, hope for a hot start like last year, and trade him when his value is highest which should open the spot up for Pratto in late May or June.
Unfortunately, that situation deflates Pratto’s value a bit and makes him a tough prospect pick in many Dynasty drafts.
7. Brady Singer; SP; Fantrax ranking: 305th
Some Royals fans may think I’m crazy for ranking Singer as the best of the Royals’ young pitchers in regard to Dynasty. But I believe in Singer, as I wrote extensively this month. I think he develops a third, maybe a fourth pitch this offseason, and suddenly becomes the Royals’ best pitcher in 2022, though I think his ceiling is a little bit more limited than other Royals pitching prospects.
But in terms of his floor? He’s probably the safest of the Royals’ young pitching bunch.
8. Daniel Lynch; SP; Fantrax ranking: 292nd
Lynch fared much better with the Royals in his second call-up, but I still have my concerns. He still gives up a lot of hits, and his lackluster K/BB ratio (1.77) worries me. Add that with a sub-40 percent groundball rate, and I wonder if Lynch will be nothing more than just Danny Duffy or Mike Montgomery (with Monty obviously the low end of the projection).
I am willing to chalk up Lynch’s struggles due to the adjustment to Major League batters last year, and him at least being “slightly below” average in his call-up was promising, especially since he was just flat out bad in his initial debut stint. However, I need to see more from Lynch this Spring and at the start of 2022 before I rank him above Singer.
9. Asa Lacy; SP; Fantrax ranking: 376th
If you want a pitcher with high-risk, but high-upside, Lacy is your guy.
In Quad Cities, he had moments where he looked absolutely dominant. And then on other occasions, he looked like a left-handed Nuke Laloosh. It’s feast or famine with Lacy as a prospect, and while the floor may be low, his ceiling could be higher than any of the Royals’ young pitchers in their system. That was especially evident this fall in the Arizona Fall League:
It’s possible that Lacy could be not only the Royals’ best prospect by the end of 2022, but could perhaps have a shot to make the Major League roster, especially if he can channel his control at least somewhat. His stuff may be the best in the organization…he just needs to control it more consistently. And that’s what makes him a considerable risky pick in Dynasty leagues.
10. Carlos Hernandez; SP; Fantrax ranking: 389th
Hernandez emerges as one of the hottest pitchers in the Royals system during the June and July months, as they moved him to the rotation due to a starting pitcher shortage, and he absolutely thrived.
While Hernandez was seen as a possible bullpen option going into 2022, I don’t think many Royals fans saw him being one of the Royals’ best starting pitchers by the season’s end. Hernandez boasts some incredible stuff, as his four-seamer and sinker touched high 90’s and even 100 MPH with regularity. Furthermore, the more he pitched, the better his command got, which produced strikeouts like this one of the White Sox’s Tim Anderson:
The issue with Hernandez which prevents him from being higher in my Dynasty rankings is that he was pretty lucky last year.
Yes, his ERA was 3.68. However, his K/BB ratio was only 1.80 (only .03 points higher than Lynch), his CSW rate was only 24.5 percent, and he had a .267 BABIP, which was pretty fortunate. What will happen when that BABIP rises? Will Hernandez improve his strikeout rate, which was only 20.7 percent, not exactly an “ace-level” rate?
It’s possible that Hernandez could be a sleeper again and shoot up these Royals Dynasty rankings. But I am not taking a chance on him until the later rounds, with the fail-safe being that he can maybe transition into a bullpen role in 2022, should he regress as a starting pitcher.
Photo Credit: Prospects 1500