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:
- Jay Bruce & Colby Rasmus Will Combine For At Least 65 HR
- Jayson Werth will have less than 160 runs scored and RBI combined
- Ryan Zimmerman will outperform Evan Longoria in 2011
- James Shields will post a sub-3.40 ERA and sub-1.20 WHIP
- Austin Jackson will struggle so badly that by June 15 that he will have spent time at Triple-A
- Matt LaPorta will hit at least 30 HR in 2011
- Brett Anderson will be a Top 3 AL-Only fantasy pitcher in 2011
- Jose Tabata will score at least 100 runs
- Chris Perez will save less than 17 games in 2011
- Yovani Gallardo will post a WHIP of 1.20 or better
- Andrew McCutchen will go 30/30 in 2011
- Ike Davis will hit at least 35 HR in 2011
- James McDonald will strike out at least 180 batters in 2011
- Mat Latos will post a K/BB of 5.00 or better in 2011
- Ryan Braun will go 125/125 in 2011
- Jonathan Niese will post a WHIP of under 1.22 in 2011