John Aurora, Contributor
Whit Merrifield (rank 81, ADP 94.9)
2017: .288 AVG, 19 HR, 78 RBI, 80 R, 34 SB
What a breakout for Merrifield in 2017 as he produced in all five categories with a .288 AVG, 19 HR, 78 RBI, 80 R, 34 SB (led the AL in SB). His contact rate was in line with his minor league numbers, 85%, and his .308 BABIP suggest last season was not flukey. Expect his power numbers to regress somewhat but the speed is real making him a very valuable player. For leagues with a less than 20 minimum for position eligibility, keep an eye on where Merrifield plays as he had 1 game as a first and third baseman, and 17 games as an outfielder.
Salvador Perez (rank 154, ADP 117.8)
2017: .268 AVG, 27 HR, 80 RBI, 57 R, 1 SB
The steady Perez improved his power stroke last season ending with 27 homers. This season he will have less lineup support with the departures of Hosmer, Cain, and potentially Moustakas, which will affect his counting numbers due to the volume of games he plays. In addition, all the innings he spent behind the plate may have finally caught up to Perez as he had his first injury last season. Perez will be a solid catcher but don’t reach.
Danny Duffy (rank 168, ADP 161.3)
2017: 9 W, 130 K, 3.81 ERA, 1.26 WHIP
Duffy regressed last season as he lost velocity on his fastball, which is problematic for a fly-ball pitcher with control problems. Combine that with playing for a rebuilding team and having “minor” elbow surgery in the offseason and I’ll be staying away.
Adalberto (Raul) Mondesi, 2B (rank 460, ADP 260)
2017: .170 AVG, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 4 R, 5 SB
Mondesi has an outside chance of winning a starting spot either at 2B or in the outfield. Look for him to be called up from AAA later in the year for the rebuilding Royals as Mondesi can be a spark to their lineup given his speed potential. You know my thoughts on speed for a middle infielder. Keep an eye on him throughout the season.