This is the weekly Fantasy Roundtable, where the writers of Rotoworld Baseball let the readers of Rotoworld Baseball in on a quick staff discussion. It's water cooler talk ... that we've decided to publish. Look for it every Tuesday.
Drew Silva: Since we talked speculative save additions last week, I figured we should jump over to steals talk this week. Every fantasy baseball owner you know is in a constant search for speed. Give me an under-the-radar option in the stolen bases category -- somebody who could help immediately or down the road in standard or deeper fantasy leagues.
I was happy the Braves kept young center fielder Mallex Smith in the majors (and starting regularly) when they activated Ender Inciarte off the disabled list last week. Thought we might not see Smith again for a while. He's batting just .224/.284/.358 and has been caught on four of his eight stolen base attempts, but the kid has some serious jets. He's also a better hitter than what he's shown so far. I think Smith's confidence will improve at the plate and on the bases as the summer rolls along, assuming the rebuilding Braves let him ride out some more offensive ruts. Inciarte is another sneaky option for speed. He had 21 stolen bases in 132 games last season for the Diamondbacks along with a cool .303/.338/.408 slash line. He missed most of April with a hamstring strain and is currently sporting a .476 OPS, so there's a good chance he's available in most leagues. I like him even more than Smith from a consistency standpoint. It can be both beneficial and risky to target borderline players off these "tanking" teams.
D.J. Short: I doubt we see him for another month or so, but it’s time to stash Nationals prospect shortstop Trea Turner if you haven’t already. The 22-year-old has swiped 12 bases over 29 games this season in Triple-A while posting a .321/.391/.455 batting line. He stole 29 bases in 116 games last season in the minors, so he makes for an exciting speed option in the middle infield. And he's certainly an improvement over Danny Espinosa. While there are several interesting prospect pitchers on the way this season, the field of impact position players isn’t nearly as deep. It’s time to get ahead on this one if you have the roster flexibility. Turner is still out there in nearly 80 percent of Yahoo leagues.
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Ryan Boyer: Cameron Maybin had a pretty nice fantasy season last year with the Braves after two injury-shortened seasons in San Diego, batting .267 with 10 homers and 23 stolen bases. He's been out all of this season so far with a hairline fracture in his wrist and more recently a banged up shoulder, but the 29-year-old doesn't seem too far off from a return. Maybin has been in the designated hitter spot regularly for Triple-A Toledo but is mixing in starts in center field now as he eases his shoulder back to full strength. I don't trust Maybin at all to stay healthy, and he'll have to contend with Anthony Gose for starts in center field with the Tigers (although Gose is hitting only .214/.298/.357). However, Maybin has proven to be an asset in the steals category when on the field, and he's currently owned in just five percent of Yahoo leagues.
David Shovein: If you're looking for a cheap source of speed in mixed leagues, look no further than Danny Santana of the Twins. Since top prospect Byron Buxton was demoted to Triple-A Rochester last month, Santana has taken over as the club's starting center fielder and is hitting primarily out of the leadoff spot. The slash line isn't what you're looking for, especially the on-base percentage (.241/.267/.328), but he has already swiped five bases in just 60 plate appearances. He has also been caught four times, showing an extreme willingness to run. Santana carries shortstop and outfield eligibility and is owned in just five percent of all Yahoo leagues, making him a nice immediate addition for speed purposes.
Nathan Grimm: I'm not sure it's time to give up on Jarrod Dyson just yet. The 31-year-old is hitting just .218/.283/.273 in 17 games since coming off the disabled list, but that's due in part to a .235 batting average on balls in play. That would be some bad luck for a guy who has decent speed, but it's pretty terrible luck for a burner like Dyson. It's even more frustrating because he's actually making a ton of contact, swinging and missing just 4.5 percent of the time and striking out in just 6.5 percent of his at-bats, per FanGraphs. He's got five steals in six chances thus far, and if he starts to get on base more -- even just to his .319 career OBP -- he'll have more opportunity to run. And when he runs, he's successful.
Matthew Pouliot: The Brewers are going nowhere fast, so it will eventually make sense for them to give Keon Broxton a real shot in center field. Since receiving an early demotion to Triple-A last month, he’s come in at .308/.379/.564 with 11 steals in 19 games for Triple-A Colorado Springs. He’s not really that much of a hitter, but he’ll probably do plenty of running once the Brewers turn to him. Most likely, he’ll platoon with the left-handed-hitting Kirk Nieuwenhuis initially and then get an extended look in the second half.