Royals hitters have started to awaken from their slumbers

By Marty Gitlin |

Billy Butler has shown signs of life recently (USATSI)
Several Royals hitters have begun to earn greater consideration from Fantasy owners (USATSI)

The mere mention of several Royals hitters would have prompted an expression of disdain from their Fantasy owners most of the season. And for good reason.

They had begun the year with high expectations from Eric Hosmer, who appeared to have put it all together in the second half of 2013. But Hosmer hit a measly one home run through the first third of this year as his average dropped to .260. Such numbers are unacceptable, particularly for first basemen. It's no wonder his playing rate in Fantasy is 62 percent despite a 92 percent ownership rate.

They had confidence in Billy Butler, who should be in the prime of his career. They figured they had one of the better designated hitters in the game, but they didn't figure on him pulling a Hosmer and managing just one tater by early June. His ownership is at 61 percent, but only 27 percent are playing him.

Some had high hopes for Mike Moustakas despite a lack of evidence. After all, anyone with that level of power and potential could be a breakout candidate. They had no inkling he would eventually be toiling at Triple-A Omaha. His owned/start percentage plummeted to 23/7.

Well, the crisis could be over. Whether it's the warmer weather, the hiring of Dale Sveum as batting coach or just the cream rising to the top, all three hitters have shown signs of emerging from their doldrums. Hosmer has two homers in his last four games and five RBI in his last six. Butler has hit safely in seven of his last eight games with four doubles and has three RBI in his last two. And Moustakas, who received an emergency callup after replacement Danny Valencia landed on the disabled list, proceded to smack five hits, including a homer, in four games.

Nothing earth-shatter for any of them - but they should all be monitored. One must remember, however, that Kauffman Stadium has never been the home of Fantasy marvels. The all-time single-season home run leader in 45 years of Royals baseball is Steve Balboni with 36 in 1985. The team had 28 home runs through Monday, which put them on pace for 75 this season. That would be the lowest total in the major leagues since the Dodgers hit 72 in 1992.

It is not recommended that Fantasy owners immediately burn up the phone lines to acquire any of the awakening Royals. But one might now give them greater consideration as lineup, trade or waiver pickup possibilities.

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