Stolen Base Buy Lows: Taylor & Jankowski

Michael Taylor

I was a little surprised to find the 27-year-old available in my Tout Wars league where every semi-decent full-time player seems to be owned. While I didn’t need outfield help, I examined his profile and jumped at the opportunity to roster him.

I valued Taylor as an endgame option coming into the season based on his low AVG and suspect playing time with Victor Robles ready in the minors. The 2018 Nationals outfield has been decimated with injuries so far, so Taylor’s playing. The playing time could end with Adam Eaton attempting to return but, for now, Taylor’s roster spot is secure.

As for Taylor’s talent, he falls into the Drew Stubbs player profile, horrible AVG/OBP skills but a decent combination of home runs and stolen bases. Combining his 2017 minor and major league totals, he posted 20 home runs and 21 stolen bases. While the home runs haven’t come this season, he has hit four with 13 steals in 14 attempts.

The 13 steals ties him with Mookie Betts for the major’s 4th highest total. The stolen bases have helped him become the 44th highest rated outfielder this season (AVG league). The value may not be playable in 10 or 12-team leagues with only three outfielders but he should be owned in any five-outfielder league.

Taylor can become a drag on a fantasy team’s AVG (.230 projection) or OBP (.300) but I’ve started creating teams to handle this risk. If given the opportunity during a draft, I’ll take the hitter whose value comes from AVG or OBP. This approach allows me to take on riskier players, like Taylor, during the season as their owners grow tired of them. In Tout Wars, I’m neck-to-neck with Baseball HQ’s Brent Hershey in OBP and we trade the lead daily. But between us two and third place is 12 points. I can afford a little OBP hit and not fall in the standings.

Besides teams at the top of AVG/OBP, the ones at the bottom can target these players. With little chance of moving up, they might as well pad the rest of their stats.

Travis Jankowski (FanTrax Ownership -5.5%)

What do owners want? In just 104 PA, Jankowski has eight stolen bases and a .309 AVG. Somehow Billy Hamilton is owned in 81% of FanTrax leagues with nine steals and a .208 AVG in nearly twice as many plate appearances (193). With steals remaining at a premium, Jankowski is getting no respect. He’s extremely comparable to Dee Gordon, no power but leading off with a league-leading stolen base potential. And owners are dropping Jankowski? I feel Jankowski’s ownership should at least be equal to or higher than Billy Hamilton’s.

I bet owners are having a tough time moving past the draft pick or auction dollars paid for Hamilton. They need to come back to reality.

While Jankowski is just a three-trick pony (stolen bases and some AVG and Runs potential) some team may need his production. The key with Jankowski is not to trade him but someone with more perceived value. Other owners know they could have owned Jankowski for little-or-nothing. They may feel bad about paying up for him. Instead, owners may want a player with more preseason valued talent, like Dee Gordon or Whit Merrifield.

Gordon and Merrifield were top eight round talents. Other owners will be more receptive to trading for either one than Jankowski. While Jankowski’s ownership should be heading up instead of down, owners are rostering worse players because they paid more for them to start the season.

Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR twice, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Snake Clowns
5 years ago

Do you roster Taylor ahead of guys like T. Kemp, CarGo, Ian Desmond, Duvall, or Dexter F.? (14 team roto mixer).

5 years ago
Reply to  Snake Clowns

Kemp/Ian Desmond is okay if you need speed. Kemp because his team runs like wild and has more playing time than Taylor. Ian for his power/speed combo.