KC Royals and baseball fans alike are not expecting much from the team in 2023. It is a sad fact, but the Royals are primed for a feeling-out season, where they find what young players will be there long-term and expose the ones who will not. The process will be frustrating to watch at times, as it has been for years now. The process will also see plenty of exciting moments and glimpses of hope like it was during the 2022 season. The 2022 roster was one of the youngest in Royals' history, rivaling the 2011 roster that paved the way to the AL pennant in 2014 and World Series in 2015. Building a foundation does not happen immediately, and the Royals have some coveted cornerstone players to be competitive soon.
The MLB fantasy draft deadline is rapidly approaching. Who are some KC Royals that are undervalued or overvalued ahead of the 2023 season?
For Royals fans with time, fantasy baseball is a great way to build a team that wins in the fantasy world. The excitement amongst fantasy general managers is high ahead of the 2023 season after everything feels normal with no lockout or pandemic. Gone are the days of lost games and worried if players will test for COVID-19. Now, fantasy managers are getting their rankings ready ahead of the Mar. 29 draft deadline. If you have not drafted yet, some Royals players are no-brainers, avoid them at all costs and everything in between. I came across several fantasy managers hesitant to draft any Royals player in my CBS Sports league, the point system I will use for this article.
If you want to be a Kansas City homer in your fantasy league, go right ahead. Might not win your league, but it would be fun to see how it turns out. Let's look at some of Kansas City's players who are overvalued and those who will be steals in your fantasy league.
Undervalued: 1B Vinnie Pasquantino
Average Draft Position: 92nd overall - Milham's Rank: 72nd overall
First baseman Vinnie Pasquantino surprised many casual Royals fans in 2022, making his MLB debut midway through the season. He did not stuff the stat sheet production-wise, but he was well above the average first baseman. His 162-game average stats include .832 OPS, 22 home runs, and 3.1 WAR. All of those numbers will play for the Royals!
Vinnie's fantasy points per game ranked sixth among Royals hitters in 2022. He still has less than 75 games in MLB action, so most expect the Old Dominion alum to take another step forward. He will have plenty of opportunity to, with Kansas City's lacking positional depth at first base, and Vinnie's bat will still see action at designated hitter.
Overvalued: C MJ Melendez
Average Draft Position: 109th overall - Milham's Rank: 133rd overall
Bust is a strong word for catcher MJ Melendez, but I am not as high on his 2023 projections as others. The Royals will certainly try to keep his bat in the lineup, and it will be easy with his positional versatility. But that is also the problem. Melendez did play multiple positions in 2022 but was mostly behind the plate with Salvador Perez injured. With Perez back, Melendez's ultimate role remains to be seen.
There is a concern that Melendez's power-hitting numbers do regress slightly in a full MLB season. I do not think Melendez has a bad season by any stretch, but he might not make the same step forward that Pasquantino, Bobby Witt Jr., and others make this season.
Undervalued: SP Zack Greinke
Average Draft Position: 390th overall - Milham's Rank: 243rd overall
It's Zack Greinke. He isn't as dominant as he once was, but Greinke is still worth a roster spot in deeper leagues. He is entering his 20th MLB season and will start Opening Day for the Royals. Greinke is hitting a lot of milestones in possibly his final season. Royals fans know him well and know that he would not want to end his career with a whimper of a season.
Greinke has been masterful at times during spring training, and that has to continue after Opening Day to some degree. The strikeout numbers have regressed in recent years, but he performs best in Kauffman Stadium and the methodical approach could pay dividends with Perez behind the dish and a different coaching staff.