by Ray Kuhn
Power. That is what we can expect out of the Designated Hitter position from the Kansas City Royals in 2017. We might not get much else as Brandon Moss and Peter O’Brien each have struggled to make contact in the past, and the latter doesn’t even have a major league track record, but 40 home runs between the two could be a safe projection.
The Royals did not have to spend much to acquire them this off-season, a $12 million commitment over two seasons for Moss and waiver claim for O’Brien, but both could have value for fantasy owners. That is, if they are used and drafted correctly; as end game selections and depth options. Of course in AL-only leagues, both will be likely starting each week (especially Moss), and they could be a good source of power if you spend resources at other positions.
Perhaps one of the best things you can say about Moss, aside from his power, is that you know what you are getting from him. He is versatile enough in the field, first base and both corner outfield positions, and he has averaged 25.5 home runs in each of his last four seasons while driving in an average of 73 runs. Within that time period, Moss has averaged 457 at bats per season, and while there is certainly the possibility for more in Kansas City this season, I wouldn’t go into the season expecting much more from Moss.
Throughout his career, he has clearly been better against right-handed pitching, but in some years the disparities were not as great as others. Regardless of that, the Royals will likely use a southpaw on the mound as an opportunity to work O’Brien into the lineup. However, less might be more in the way of at bats for Moss.
Anything over a .230 batting average for Moss this season, would be a bonus, so the more he plays, the more possible damage he can do that category for you. But, he will play enough to get you those 25 home runs and Moss’s power is real. Last season, he had a 172 Power Index (72% above the league average), with an expected Power Index of 186, and that is not a skill set that appears to be disappearing. The problem with Moss, is that power has become more common across baseball so that has decreased the value he provides (look no further than the contract he just signed), but he has also proven to be a consistent, for better or worse, performer.
Consistency, is something O’Brien is looking to find as he hopes to get his first real taste of big league action this year.
Thus far in his major league career, O’Brien has just 79 plate appearances, and he has struck out in 32 of them while batting .176 with six home runs. Strikeouts have also been a problem for the slugger in the minor leagues as from 2013 to 2016, he struck out between 135 and 160 times.
Otherwise, things went a little better for O’Brien as he eclipsed 100 RBI twice and averaged 30 home runs in each of the last four years; with a high of 39. O’Brien’s batting average was also between .254 and .278, but we have yet to see how his skill set will translate to major league production. The fact that O’Brien didn’t seem to have a position in the field also didn’t help his cause, but now that he is in the American League, it doesn’t matter anymore.
There is nothing in O’Brien’s profile to expect much in the average department, but his power is certainly for real. Now he just needs to take advantage of his chance with Kansas City.
Of the two options, Moss is the player to own based on his track record of success as a run producer. Just don’t spend too much to do it.
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Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings:
|Starting Pitcher||#1-20 |02/27/17|