Jarrod Dyson, OF - KC
The Alex Rios signing was shaping up as a nice one for the Royals, with the veteran outfielder batting .321 and showing some pop through his first handful of games, but unfortunately Rios was nailed in the hand with a pitch earlier this week. He lands on the disabled list with a fracture that's expected to keep him sidelined for more than a month, opening the door for Dyson to provide a nice burst of fantasy value.
Dyson's skill set is limited but he has one key strength and it's an area where he really excels: stealing bases. He's one of the most prolific runners on a team that is known for its aggressive approach on the bases, so as long as Dyson is getting somewhat regular playing time he's worth adding for any owner looking to bulk up in the steals category.
Over the past three seasons, the 30-year-old has swiped 100 bases on 118 attempts as a part-time player. That's a fantastic 85 percent success rate and while he may begin slowing down soon there are no signs of that yet; last year he set a career high be stealing 36 bags.
Dyson won't necessarily be an everyday player during Rios' absence, but his main competition for playing time in right field is Paulo Orlando, a 29-year-old with a 727 career OPS in the minors and zero MLB playing experience prior to this season. Although Orlando also has good speed, he's not on Dyson's level and his lack of a track record will likely compel Ned Yost to lean more heavily on the known quantity.
Obviously Yost knows how to give the green light. The Royals led the league in steal attempts last year and rank fourth in this young season. As long as he's getting tread, Dyson seems like a lock to run at least a couple times per week.
Don't expect any power production -- Dyson has just 26 doubles and four homers in 981 career plate appearances -- but if you're in a deeper league and looking for an acute edge in stolen bases, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better option that is widely available.
Nori Aoki, OF - SF
After coming just short of a World Series title with Kansas City, Aoki switched allegiances during the offseason to the team that beat his Royals, joining up with the San Francisco Giants. Will this switch have a positive impact on his fantasy stock?
In general, Aoki is not the type of player who is going to fill up the stat sheet. In 132 games with KC last year, he hit only one home run, but posted a typically solid batting average (.285) with 17 steals. Playing a corner outfield spot, that made him a bit of a borderline asset even in deep leagues.
The new setting has proven beneficial for the 33-year-old thus far, however. He's been in the leadoff spot in every game for the Giants, and has opened his season with a .375 batting average. He'll cool off some, of course, but the hot start is a good sign suggesting maybe he can return to the offensive standard he had previously set in the National League.
In two seasons with Milwaukee prior to being traded to the Royals, Aoki had averaged a 755 OPS with nine homers and 25 steals. That's a little more intriguing from a fantasy perspective than his line in Kansas City last year.
San Francisco stole fewer bases under Bruce Bochy in 2014 than any other team in the NL, but a desire to add more speed was part of the decision to bring Aoki aboard and he's already 1-for-1 on the base paths.
He'll only remain in the leadoff spot until Hunter Pence returns (likely next month), but if he keeps hitting Aoki should remain high in the lineup. He's got a relatively low ceiling, but he's been very consistent so his floor is high. At the very least he's a nice fill-in.