Wild Prediction: Kila Ka’aihue’s Power

The Kansas City Royals are a team stocked with young talent.  Finally, however, they appear primed to really take a look at Kila Ka’aihue, who will be 27-years old by the time the season begins. 

Why do I say finally?  Ka’aihue appeared on the precipice of making an impact in 2008 when he hit 37 HR in 401 AB between Double and Triple-A.  However he got just 21 AB at the Major League level in a cup of coffee and was left to toil in the minor leagues for all of 2009 (where he ultimately struggled).

However, he made his presence felt once again in 2010 (24 HR in 323 AB at Triple-A), leading to 180 AB for the Royals (.217, 8 HR).  Now he enters 2011 primed to share 1B/DH duties with Billy Butler and fantasy owners can only dream about what he can do, leading to today’s prediction:

Kila Ka’aihue will hit at least 35 HR in 2011

Considering how much he struggled when he finally saw AB in ’10, this certainly can be viewed as a stretch.  However, something he did show was the ability to hit the ball out of the park.  He has seen just 201 AB in the Major Leagues, but in his brief time he has posted the following HR/FB:

  • 2008 – 11.1%
  • 2010 – 11.4%

It’s a small sample size, but it is interesting to note.  In the Majors he has hit a home run once every 22.3 at bats, not far off from his minor league career mark of 21.2 (though he did spend a lot of time in the Pacific Coast League). 

That alone isn’t going to be enough to get him anywhere close to the prediction, considering that a rate of a home run every 21.2 AB over 500 AB would only yield about 24 HR.  However, there is reason to believe that he can exceed that mark.  We all know that 27-years old tends to be a “magic” season for many hitters, when they finally are able to put everything together.  Seeing him improve his ratio in 2011 would not be a big surprise.

He certainly hits more than enough fly balls to generate a big home run total, at least based on his brief time in the Major Leagues (49.1% fly ball rate).  Let’s assume for a second that over a full season he falls to around 45%.  Last season Nick Swisher hit 29 HR with a 44.9% fly ball rate and a 15.1% HR/FB.  How unbelievable is it that Ka’aihue exceeds those marks?   

There will be some concerns that Ka’aihue won’t hold the job for the entire season, but I do not believe that is going to be an issue.  The player who may ultimately push him out, Eric Hosmer, probably won’t reach the Majors until September (at the earliest) as the Royals continue to be cautious with their top level talent.

Ka’aihue has shown plenty of power in the minor leagues (190 career HR) and seeing him explode, now that he finally has been given an opportunity, is certainly a possibility.

Chance of Happening: 7%

What are your thoughts?  Is there any chance Ka’aihue posts this type of home run total?  How many do you think he can hit in ’11?

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Make sure to check out our previous Wild Predictions:

 

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5 Responses to Wild Prediction: Kila Ka’aihue’s Power

  1. GAHHH says:

    He’ll hit 16 HR.

  2. Crazy1 says:

    Call me crazy, but I see a little Joey Votto in him. 30HR-.270-100RBI-80Runs-0SBs

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I’m a big believer in Ka’aihue, but I’m not sure I would put him in the same class as Votto. That definitely fits in with these predictions though!!

  3. MD says:

    I think Kila’s power is a definite, his avg will obviously be a major concern for any fantasy owner. But i think he has TRADE BAIT written all over him by mid-season. With the recent long-term signing of Butler, and all of the Corner Infield prospects coming up, there’s no reason for KC to hold onto this kid, and i don’t think he’s good enough to be a starting 1B on any other AL team, so i can see him going to the NL.

  4. Jonah says:

    He’ll hit 25-28 with a solid OBP if he gets the ABs.

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