2012 Fantasy Baseball Preview: Jonathan Sanchez and the Kansas City Royals Starting Rotation

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I’m not going to lie…there isn’t much to like about the Royals’ rotation in 2012. However, I don’t think any of you want to read a two-word article that say, “STAY AWAY” so I’m going to do my best to find some value in Kansas City’s starting five.

Those of you in 10-person leagues are going to want to avoid any pitcher that wears the letter KC on his cap, but there is still some potential for fantasy owners on the Royals’ staff for those of you in 12-person (or more) leagues. Keeping that in mind, let’s take a spin through the Kansas City rotation and see if we can find any gems that can help in 2012:

Jonathan Sanchez

Because of his high K-rate, Sanchez has been a target for fantasy owners for years now. However, he’s ultimately been more of a disappointment since the rest of his numbers don’t quite follow in-line with his strikeout numbers. His move from San Francisco to Kansas City shouldn’t have an effect ballpark-wise (since both are primarily pitcher’s parks), but perhaps a change of leagues will do him good. He’s 29 years old, so it’s likely that what we’ve seen is what we’re going to get from the lefty. His high K-rate last year (9K/9IP) was typically great, but he once against had control issues with a league-worst 5.86BB/9IP. If there’s one pitcher to target on the Royals’ staff, it’s Sanchez, but be aware of his limitations if you decide to draft him.

Bruce Chen

I usually target pitchers with high K/9IP numbers, but Chen isn’t the worst option if you’re looking for an innings-eater towards the end of your draft. He’ll enter this season at the ripe age of 34, but I had him on a couple teams last year and I certainly couldn’t complain about the numbers he gave me (12 wins with a 3.77 ERA). His WHIP left something to be desired (1.30 WHIP) and his strikeouts weren’t ideal (97 K’s), but Chen is worth a late-round flier if you can make up for this deficiencies elsewhere on your roster.

Luke Hochevar

It’s safe to say that Hochevar hasn’t turned into the ace that the Royals were expecting him to when they spent the number 1 overall pick of the 2006 draft on him. His 2011 numbers (11 wins, 4.68 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 128 K’s) didn’t do much to change that sense of disappointment, but there is a bit of a silver lining here. The right-hander is still only 28 and his 2nd-half numbers (3.53 ERA, 68 K’s, 24 walks in 79.1 innings) showed the promise that the Royals saw in him six years ago. Hochevar isn’t worth spending a draft pick on, but I’ll be keeping a close eye on him in April to see if he can carryover his post All-Star break momentum from last year.

Felipe Paulino

As of press time, Paulino (28) reportedly has a leg up on the fourth spot in the Royal’s rotation. However, just because Paulino may start 30 games this year doesn’t mean he’s worth drafting. He does possess a power arm (95 MPH fastball), but he’s also the same pitcher that has averaged a 5.18 ERA and 1.53 WHIP over the past three seasons. Though I like his career 8.28 K/9IP rate, the Royals’ lefthander hasn’t shown any consistency in his career and fantasy owners will be best-suited looking elsewhere in 2012.

Danny Duffy

At 23 years old, Duffy is probably about as close to a blue-chip pitching prospect as the Royals have. However, it’s a little hard to call a guy who had a 5.64 ERA last year a blue-chip prospect. Duffy doesn’t top the low-90s on the radar gun, and is more of a control pitcher (as evidenced by his 7.43 K/9IP rate last year). He’ll more than likely lower his ERA into the 4.50-range this year, but that’s still not a number I’m looking for on my team. Unless Duffy comes out of the gates smoking hot, he’s not worth worrying about in 2012.

Aaron Crow

Pop-Quiz: Who was the Royal’s lone All-Star last year? I don’t think I need to answer that question considering the section in which I just wrote that, but Crow did have quite an impressive 2011 as a middle reliever. With the acquisition of Jonathan Broxton, Crow became more of an asset for the Royals as a starter over the offseason and is battling for the fifth rotation spot with Duffy and Paulino. He did post an impressive 2.76 ERA and 9.44 K/9IP rate as a reliever last year, but Crow has never excelled as a starter in the minors and he probably won’t even open the season in the majors. He’s worth monitoring to see how he progresses, but there’s no reason to spend a draft pick on Crow.

All in all, the Royals don’t offer fantasy owners much in terms of starting pitching value this year. There are a few end-of-your-bench options in Sanchez, Chen, and Hochever but each of them comes with their own unique questions marks and limitations. My recommendation would be to stay away from all but Sanchez, and I’d even wait until the end of the draft to take a look at him.

Written by Nick Raducanu exclusively for Nick Raducanu is the founder and mystery man behind TraderX at You can follow him and ask him for fantasy advice on Twitter @FantasyTrade411.

Remember to check out our 2012 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, with Ranks, Auction Values, Expert Mock Draft and tons of articles. Click here to learn more or purchase.

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