On Tuesday, Major League Baseball handed down an 80 game suspension to Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder and fantasy baseball stud Starling Marte. Unfortunately, fantasy baseball owners will need to drop the #25 overall drafted player & top-ten outfielder as he will miss almost exactly half the season. Obviously, these owners now have a hole in the outfield. This week we move our normal free agent outfielder piece to Tuesday to address this situation. Like last week, this will be a supersized version of the column. Normally, we explore three players available in 50% or more of Yahoo! leagues, with one available in 90% or more. Today we double that and explore six players, two with minuscule ownership.
Avisail Garcia, White Sox (50% owned)
Garcia is providing quality production, but he doesn’t come close to replicating Marte’s steaks. If you believe you’re set on steals, Garcia might be the best available player at 50% ownership or less so far this year.
Brett Gardner, Yankees (43% owned)
Gardner has an unimpressive average so far this year (.220) but that makes his OF-leading 5 stolen bases even more impressive. Even more impressive? He’s already missed three games, partially due to a scary collision. Gardner has a low average, but he’s running whenever he gets an opportunity.
David Peralta, Arizona (36% owned)
Peralta carries a wholly unimpressive season-long average (.240). However, Arizona dropped him to sixth and he’s hit a respectable .273 in the last week with a stolen base. He has two stolen bases on the young season. In his last full season (2015), he hit .312 with 17 home runs, 9 stolen bases, 78 RBI and 61 R. He may be worth snagging regardless. He could top double-digit stolen bases this year.
Jarrod Dyson, Seattle (23% owned)
I once described the speedy Dyson as 90% of Billy Hamilton’s speed with double the actual baseball skill. Dyson is what people hope Billy Hamilton will be some day. So far this year he has four stolen bases in the first two weeks. He carries a dismal .209 batting average, but his .220 BABIP is nearly 100 points below his career average. He should get back up into the .250-.260 range in no time, especially if he keeps up his low strikeout rate. Dyson is available in over 75% of leagues and could be the ideal Marte replacement.
Adam Frazier, Pittsburgh (5% owned)
Frazier is the easy answer, as early reports are that he will fill in for Marte in his absence. So far this year, he has a .308/1 HR/4 R/4 RBI/0 SB line. He never hit more than a couple dingers in a year but was above-average by wRC+ in 160 plate appearances last year. Frazier stole 17 stolen bases in the minors, so he may get Marte’s green lights. He will hit for a good average and steal some bases, but don’t expect any dingers.
Leonys Martin, Seattle (3% owned)
Last week, I outlined how Martin was hitting the ball hard, he was just hitting it straight into the ground. This fueled a low BABIP with an easy fix. He has hits in three straight games, with two stolen bases in the same timeframe. It’s not long before his ownership hits 25%+ or more. He’s not a savior in even 14 team leagues, but he has value in deep leagues or AL-only leagues.