In poker, we shouldn’t be trying to get good hands – we should be trying to win pots. In a category game like fantasy baseball, we shouldn’t be trying to assemble the team of best players – we should be trying to score more points than our opponents.
That line of thinking is a bit counterintuitive, but it’s the best way to approach these strategy games because we eliminate some of the luck involved. With that in mind, the steals category in baseball is one worth attacking just like we attack blocks in fantasy basketball. Since so few guys are prolific in the category (only 15 players had 30+ steals last year), we can make huge gains by sacrificing the power stats to get some cheap speed:
Spang the monkey
Cory Spangenberg has a lot going for him. The 24-year-old was the 10th overall pick in the 2011 draft, he stole 104 bases in 374 minor league games and he’s eligible at three positions in most leagues (OF, 2B, 3B). By forming a platoon with both Jedd Gyorko and Will Middlebrooks, he’s getting the starting nod nearly every day. The best part of it all is Spangenberg likely comes for free off your waiver wire.
Progression toward the mean
Ben Revere is still only hitting .264 on the year, which means he's only swiped nine bags. You have to get on first before you can steal. However, this is a guy that hasn’t hit less than .294 in any of his last three seasons and has been at .305 and .306 in his two previous years with the Phillies. As his on-base percentage rises toward career-norms of .323, he’ll get toward his usual 35-45 steals. That means Revere, a nice buy-low candidate, projects for something around 30 steals the rest of the way.
A Billy in Oakland
Billy Burns is baseball's best base stealer you’ve probably never heard of. He nabbed 179 bases in 385 minor league games and did it at an eye-opening 89 percent clip. Ever since the Athletics released Cody Ross on May 3, Burns has basically been an every-day player and has seven steals in 94 plate appearances. It’s not a fluke and he’s not going to slow down.
NBA Lottery Winners
The top-3 of the draft provides nice rookie landing spots
1. Timberwolves – Kevin Garnett is a free agent and Nikola Pekovic can’t stay healthy. Likely pick Karl Towns will have a lot on his plate early.
2. Lakers – The frontcourt of the future for L.A. should be polished low-post scorer Jalil Okafor and Julius Randle.
3. 76ers – Combo guard D’Angelo Russell would go nuts as the only real talent in Philly’s backcourt.
The Browns opened OTAs Tuesday with Isaiah Crowell as their first-string running back, ahead of Terrance West. It’s a solid sign that Crowell will head to training camp with the early-down job in his back pocket, leaving third-round rookie Duke Johnson as the passing back and West backing up both spots. The Browns want to ground-n-pound and they will get linchpin center Alex Mack back from a broken leg, making Crowell a sneaky value in the middle rounds.