Close week in the Twitter poll to say the least. All four categories received at least 20 percent of the vote, but ultimately, stolen bases prevailed. Speed is valuable in fantasy baseball, but perhaps even more in 2017, given the premium of true speedsters in the league. Having a guy like Billy Hamilton or Trea Turner is great for steals, but having multiple guys to get in double-digits can be just as beneficial. Again, make sure you get your votes in on Twitter so you can get your fantasy team some help! @colbyrconway is the Twitter handle to check on Tuesday nights.
Cameron Maybin, OF LAA – He’s owned in 35 percent of fantasy leagues over at ESPN, so I thought I’d include him here. Over the last week, he has seven hits and six stolen bases. Sure, those numbers are inflated by his four-steal effort against the Astros on June 9. He’s an injury risk and as streaky as they come, but he’s one of the biggest threats on the diamond in baseball. He has roughly 19 stolen bases in just about 50 games on the year. That’s crazy. He was sidelined for a few weeks with an oblique injury, and that helped pushed his ownership down, but now that he’s back, he needs to be owned in more leagues. In points leagues, eh, Maybin is just another asset. However, in category leagues, Maybin is pretty damn valuable. He single-handedly can win you the stolen base category on a damn near weekly basis. It’s something to consider, folks. Also, take this how you may, but 18 of his 19 stolen bases have come against right-handers.
Delino DeShields, OF TEX – The injury to Carlos Gomez opened the door for DeShields, especially at the top of the order, but even upon the former’s return, DeShields isn’t going to just go away. The guy is hitting in the .290s and he’s ranked in the top five in the American League in stolen bases. Yeah, you just can’t permanently bench a guy who is putting up these numbers. Power? Nope. RBI? Nope. Steals? Hell yes. That’s what you’re getting with DeShields and everyone knows it. His OBP is almost 25 points higher than his career mark, while his inflated OBP suggests that his batting average will regress in time, but even with a diminished batting average, he’s still able to put up stolen bases. He’s a threat every time he touches the bases and that threat is something you want, and need, on your fantasy team.
Taylor Motter, SS SEA – Motter has been ice-cold of late, and even that may be an understatement. He has just two hits over the last week, and subsequently, zero stolen bases. However, he has seven steals through 56 games this season after not stealing a single base in 2016 with the Rays. The Mariners are going to let him run and that will play well for Motter and his fantasy owners. He swiped at least 15 bags at Advanced-A, Double-A and Triple-A, so don’t buy into his zero steals in 2016. Motter can run and in Seattle, he will run. His SPD mark on Fangraphs of 4.8 is comparable to Mookie Betts, Ian Kinsler and J.T. Realmuto here in the early going. Just something to consider. Picking him up right now will likely put a bit of a damper on your batting average, but the potential for stolen bases is real, ladies and gentlemen.
Mallex Smith, OF TB – Over the last week, Smith has nine hits, seven runs scored, two walks and four stolen bases. He’s fast, we all know it, but the problem has been whether he can consistently get on base. Well, that and staying healthy. His OBP in 72 games last year was just .316, but through 42 at-bats in 2017, that mark is up to .426. Smith’s five walks are a quarter of last year’s total and his patience has been a big key in his early 2017 success. Over the last week, he’s averaging 5.3 pitches per plate appearance against right-handers, which is a pitch and a half above the league average during that span. While Kevin Kiermaier is on the shelf, Smith will get everyday at-bats, whether it be leadoff or at the bottom of the order. He’s owned in just 22.1 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues.
Charlie Tilson, OF CWS — Did you forget about this guy? Well it’s time to get him back on your radar. He’s expected to embark on a rehab assignment in either late-June or early-July and his assignment could be fairly short. He has plus-speed, as seen by his 46 stolen bases in 134 games at the Double-A level in 2015. His 89 stolen bases in 471 games may be less than flattering, but his stolen base rate of one steal per every 5.2 games gives him right around 30 for a 162-game season. When he does come back, he’ll fill a hole in the Chicago outfield and after some conditioning, he should resume an everyday role. Again, he’s still a few weeks out, but he’s available in a ton of fantasy formats.