We stream all the time for pitching stats, but now it’s getting into crunch time for every stat on the board, especially in head-to-head leagues. Let’s look at the schedule this week and try to identify some key players in each category. Oh, and if this isn’t enough, check out the Daily Fantasy Strategy column on the site. If you squint right, you can find what you’re looking for in the Daily Five, even if you’re using it for a different reason.
We’ll start with steals because steals might be the best offensive stat to stream for.
The difference between the elite defensive catchers and the worst, when it comes to throwing base stealers out, is fairly robust. The worst catching tandems allow a stolen base per game, the best stretch that out past two games. The Angels, Athletics, Red Sox, Rays, and Mariners are the worst at this, so let’s target them.
The Angels have Toronto and Houston this week. Rajai Davis is available in three-quarters of yahoo leagues and is an obvious streamer, particularly against left-handers. Deep leaguers will probably have to go Anthony Gose… or Ryan Goins, whose play is unsustainable, but who did steal 15 bags last season in the minors. The Astros feel like a team full of deep leaguers, but you could pick up Jonathan Villar in your 12-teamer if all you needed were some steals. He’s like Billy Hamilton but he actually gets to swing the bat. (Unsure if that’s a great thing, honestly.) I have more faith in Robbie Grossman’s stick, but his wheels have been less efficient. You’ll probably want to play Brandon Barnes against a lefty, and though he takes off a lot, he’s been caught as many times as he’s been successful. They might rein him in. L.J. Hoes is probably better against lefties, too, and his overall performance right now might be the most sustainable, in case you’re worried about batting average. Good luck choosing your Astro.
The Athletics have had some turnover at the catcher position, so let’s move on to the Red Sox in case their new catchers have better arms. The Sawx get the Rays and the Yankees this week. Which means that the Sawx themselves are interesting. Well, they would be if they stole more. With Jacoby Ellsbury in a walking boot, it might be Quintin Berry or Jackie Bradley, Jr, or some combo of the two, getting more playing time. Either one of the two is a play against righties, since the team will probably go Jonny Gomes / Shane Victorino / Daniel Nava against lefties. Berry was the defensive replacement Sunday, but Bradley’s got more upside. The Rays don’t have a ton of readily available guys that steal bases. Perhaps in your shallower league, Matt Joyce is available for work against right-handers. David DeJesus steals the occasional base. If Brett Gardner isn’t on your wire, than you could say the same about the Yankees. Well, Ichiro Suzuki is owned in less than half of the Yahoo leagues, so before you pick up Eduardo Nunez, check to see if he’s out there.
Later in the week the Rays — possibly the worst in the league against the run — get the Twins. You’ll be able to pick up a Twinkie worth speculating on in any league. Mixed leaguers can take a shot on Brian Dozier in their middle infield. He’s actually put together a worthy fantasy season despite the continued problems with batting average on balls in play. Pedro Florimon is your deep league middle infielder, a warm body type with some wheels. Alex Presley is getting most of the burn in center, and he can help with a stolen bag over a weekend. He has more speed and is owned even less often then Oswaldo Arcia. The least-owned player with speed who might play over the weekend is Darin Mastroianni — owned in zero percent of Yahoo leagues. He had four at-bats over this past weekend and a highlight-real catch.
As always, it’s the deep leaguers that have to look past the flaws the most. Good luck streaming.
With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here, writing about the A's or Giants at The Athletic, or about beer at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris if you can handle the sandwiches and inanity.