Written by Jonathan Leshanski
Published: 03 April 2008
This week we take a look at nine flyers who are unowned in more than 50% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues. While you’ll recognize some of the names many are playing in virtual obscurity on rebuilding or bad teams, that means they are very under the radar picks when it comes to looking for speed. Not surprisingly every player on this list also plays either outfield or second base.
Rajai Davis (OF, Giants):
A pure platoon guy until Dave Roberts suffers his annual injury. Davis is one of the fastest men in the Majors and even part time could swipe 25 bases while only hitting against lefties. If he gets more playing time (and he should at some point), he could steal upwards of 40 bases. For now he’s best for teams who can afford to keep him and Roberts and toss them in a platoon situation.
Platoon player, little power.
Dave Roberts (OF, Giants):
In his 9 year career, Roberts has never been healthy enough to play more than 129 games, but he’s also never stolen less than 39 bases in a year since he was deemed good enough to be a starter. He’s going to platoon this year due to his wretched performance against lefties last year (he hit .156), which might help him dodge the injury bug and should raise his average to respectable levels but will probably limit him to less than 450 AB this season.
Platoon player, injury risk, little power.
Jerry Owens (OF, White Sox): Owens is a true buy low candidate right now due to a groin injury which has him on the DL and probably will take a while to fully heal. However when he returns to form he has 40 steal potential to go with all the runs he should score if he can get his job back.
Downside: Injury risk, positional battle? little power.
Carlos Gomez (OF, Twins):
Gomez is probably the fastest man in the Majors and should get plenty of chances to show it. However he’s a young player without much in the way of a track record but he has enough pop to hit 10 home runs and the potential to steal 40+ bases. With the Twins in active rebuilding mode he should get plenty of chances.
Little track record, likely to have a low average.
Corey Patterson (OF, Reds):
Back in 2005 Fantasy owners were getting very excited about Patterson deeming him a legitimate 30-30 candidate. They certainly thought his career year (.266-24-72-91-32) was indicative of what he could do. They were wrong, his power fell off, he battled injury, and basically became a fantasy afterthought. The one thing that never vanished were his wheels. He’s still got 30-40 steal potential and he’s got the centerfield job in Cincy for now. That should boost his power numbers leaving you to expect 12-18 in addition to his steals. Sadly you’ll have to live with his average too.
Low average, possible position loss later in the season.
Kaz Matsui (2B, Astros):
Matsui isn’t as good as he looked last season while playing in Colorado but that shouldn’t stop him from stealing bases and scoring plenty of runs in Houston. He’ll probably steal 20-25 bases rather than 30 plus because of that anal fissure that is sidelining him at this point, but if you can live with an upside of .270 average, a chance to score 90 runs (love that lineup behind him) and 25 steals he’s not a bad gamble.
No longer playing in Coors, anal fissure could cut into speed and amount of playing time.
Luis Castillo (2B, Mets):
Batting second for the Mets has its advantages, especially with the extra base speed of Jose Reyes ahead of you. Singles will plate a fair number of RBIs, and you’ll get driven home a lot. Throw in the speed to steal 15-20 bases and a .280-300 average and what’s not to like?
May get fewer steals if the Mets offense clicks rather than struggles.
Tadahido Iguchi (2B, Padres):
The Padres need to manufacture runs in their cavernous ballpark and that should lead to Iguchi getting plenty of green lights once he gets on base. He still has double digit power to go with his speed and he does walk a fair bit. Still he hasn’t really impressed anyone since 2006 and his age, 33, may be a bit of a concern. 15-25 steals is a realistic goal.
Declining production, bad hitters park, not a great offense behind him to drive him home.
Jayson Nix (2B, Rockies):
You rarely gamble badly when you gamble on any player who’ll play 81 games in Coors Field. Nix isn’t going to wow you compared to their recent crops of rookies as he’s mainly a defensive player, but he’s got enough power and speed that he could make a run at a 10-20 season. I’d rate him lower than most of the guys above because he’s still got so much to learn
Inexperience, limited upside, possible .250-.260 hitter.