Four Widely Available Speedsters For Stretch Run

With about two months left in the season, we all know what our team’s strengths and weaknesses are and where we could gain and lose points in each of the standings categories. I’ve said this in the past and will say it again — your place in the various categories is much more important when deciding on your weekly active roster then what a player’s overall value is in a vacuum. It’s rather obvious, but it bears repeating. If you’re first in homers and RBIs by a substantial margin, benching the likes of Brandon Moss or Chris Carter are easily justifiable. If you need speed, these four guys are available in the majority of leagues, and more than 50% of those on CBS.

Jordan Schafer

Coming over from the Braves, Schafer was claimed off waivers yesterday by the Twins. He has only come to the plate 93 times this season, despite BJ Upton’s continued struggles. Of course, that’s primarily due to his putrid .218 wOBA, after enjoying a more respectable .303 mark last year. But even in fewer than 100 plate appearances, he’s still managed to swipe 15 bags, and at an excellent 88% success rate. The playing time situation remains foggy in Minnesota and he certainly won’t start when a left-hander is on the mound. But he has experience at all three outfield spots and the trade of Kendrys Morales has opened up DH at-bats.

His sub-Mendoza line batting average is scary to look at, but his batted ball profile is heavy on grounders, with nary a pop-up. That suggests a significantly better BABIP than the ugly .217 mark he’s currently sporting. Given his strong walk rate, he’ll be more valuable in OBP leagues, but don’t completely ignore him in an AL-Only if you use batting average and need steals.

Jake Marisnick

The Astros and Marlins got in on the trade deadline fun and made quite the interesting swap. Jake Marisnick now finds himself with an every day job in the Houston outfield and in a much better home ball park for offense. The 23-year old has an intriguing blend of power and speed, though it’s likely that the speed component will earn him more value than the power at the moment. He has stolen as many as 37 bases in the minors back in 2011 as a farmhand in the Blue Jays organization, and had swiped 24 bases during his time at Triple-A this year.

Strikeouts have been an issue for him over a small sample this year with the Marlins, but his SwStk% isn’t that crazy. He should see every day at-bats over the rest of the season and could be worth more than just an AL-Only pickup.

Sam Fuld

Fuld opened the year with the Athletics, was designated for assignment just two weeks into the season, claimed by the Twins, then traded back to the Athletics for Tommy Milone on trade deadline day. Phew. Fuld has generally been an excellent defensive outfielder throughout his career, but he has also quietly stolen 13 bases this year over just 236 plate appearances. In the wake of the Yoenis Cespedes trade, there’s no clear cut replacement in left field, which spells opportunity for Fuld, and a host of others. At the very least, he’ll continue to hold down center field until Coco Crisp returns from a neck issue.

Alejandro De Aza

Coming off an excellent fantasy season that saw De Aza excite his fantasy owners with both power and speed, the outfielder’s playing time outlook was blurry heading into the season. Having four outfielders for three spots, who would be the odd man out most days for the White Sox? Avisail Garcia’s shoulder injury in early April solved the logjam and De Aza has pretty much garnered regular playing time since. Had it not been for the injury, he very well could have found himself riding the bench more often than not, as he’s suffered through a disappointing season with the bat, wOBAing just .296.

It’s mostly just a BABIP thing, as his .298 mark represents a career low. Jeff Zimmerman’s recently updated xBABIP value suggests he’s more deserving of a .326 mark. Of course, getting on base more often will give him more opportunities to run, and that’s something that could occur over these final two months.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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Everth Cabrera seems to be healthy…and relatively available….and not quite the drain on avg like Schaefer.