Fantasy Baseball Pickups: Get your stolen bases for cheap

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/players/8817/" data-ylk="slk:Jarrod Dyson">Jarrod Dyson</a> can provide steals for cheap when they're so scarce in fantasy right now. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Jarrod Dyson can provide steals for cheap when they're so scarce in fantasy right now. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Jarrod Dyson, Arizona Diamondbacks

He’s likely hitting a bit over his head (.291/.400/.443) and going to regress some at the plate, but Dyson’s lack of running was a fluke while seeing so much playing time. He’s averaged 28.6 steals over the last seven seasons, and that was while getting a modest 259.4 at-bats. Dyson has not only been given regular at-bats against right-handers like never before this season, but he’s also doing so while leading off. Dyson is starting to run again lately too, recording four steals over his last three games, and with SBs down league-wide and the category so increasingly difficult to address (Mallex Smith and Delino DeShields were recently sent to the minors, while Dee Gordon just left a game after being hit by a pitch), it’s surprising he’s still available in more than 95% of Yahoo leagues.

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Dyson is sporting a career-high 15.8 BB% that ranks in the top 5% of the league (impressive for a non-slugger who ranks in the bottom 2% in exit velocity) who’s regularly hitting leadoff for an Arizona lineup that’s top-10 in wRC+ and top-12 in stolen bases, so the speedster should provide sneaky fantasy value.

Brendan Rodgers, Colorado Rockies

One of the team’s best prospects but without an obvious spot open for him in Colorado’s infield to start the year, Rodgers continues to rake in Triple-A, where he’s batting .339/.409/.603 with seven homers over 121 ABs. Meanwhile, Ryan McMahon’s wRC+ (67) looks like Barry Bonds compared to Garrett Hampson’s (9). Hampson had the most fantasy potential entering the year given his SB ability, but he sports the ugly combo of having both a BB% (3.3) and Hard Hit% (20.6) that rank in the bottom 3% of the league.

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McMahon has actually played solid defense at second base, but he now owns a .225/.312/.356 career line with the Rockies and his bat can’t match Rodgers’ upside. Expect the rookie to get a chance to take over as Colorado’s starting second baseman soon enough, and he’ll be one of the most popular waiver wire adds of the year as soon as it happens given the Coors Field factor.

Brandon Woodruff, Milwaukee Brewers

His 1.37 WHIP looks ugly and is likely a big reason why Woodruff is still available in more than 60% of leagues, but his 54 strikeouts over 42.1 innings are far more revealing. He’s been especially dominant over his last three starts when Woodruff has posted a 1.69 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP with a 22:3 K:BB ratio over 16.0 innings. The hard-throwing righty has to deal with a hitter’s park (especially for lefty power), but his 29.7 K% ranks 16th among starters, just ahead of Trevor Bauer and Tyler Glasnow. Woodruff is clearly getting better too, so he needs to be owned in all leagues right now (it also helps those who punted saves in H2H formats that he’s RP eligible as well).

Mac Williamson, San Francisco Giants

I recently mentioned Williamson in a Closing Time after a nice season debut, although he’s now coming off a 0-for-5 game in Coors Field. He strikes out too frequently not to be a batting average risk and will have to deal with a tough pitcher’s park, but for those in deep fantasy leagues searching for power, Williamson possesses it (and is out there in 95% of leagues). With a retooled swing, he crushed spring training last season and had a 1.105 OPS in late April before a concussion ruined the rest of his year. Williamson had nine long balls (187 wRC+) over 82 at-bats in Triple-A this season before getting recalled, including a recent three-homer game that featured this 511-foot blast. He's out of options and the Giants have arguably the worst outfield and offense in baseball, so he’s going to be given a real opportunity as a regular in the middle of San Francisco’s lineup moving forward.

Chris Martin, Texas Rangers

With Jose Leclerc removed from the role due to ineffectiveness and now Shawn Kelley placed on the IL with an infection, Martin is the Rangers’ new closer. It’s unclear how long Kelley will be shelved, but Leclerc’s problems (career 6.17 BB/9) are deeper than a run of poor luck, so Martin has been a popular add for a reason (although still available in nearly 80% of leagues). He's been effective this year (15:3 K:BB) and should get ample save opportunities for a Texas team with a +17 run differential.

Hunter Pence, Texas Rangers

He looked completely finished while posting a .590 OPS as a 35-year-old last season, but apparently switching leagues and moving from one of the most extreme pitcher’s parks to one of the most favorable for hitters have resurrected Pence’s career. He’s batting .343 with six homers over 67 at-bats, including going deep in each of his last three games, giving him 10 RBI over that span (and he had another three-run homer robbed Thursday night). I’m not sure what to make of the small sample, but Pence’s K% (15.6) and BB% (11.7) are both career-bests, his exit velocity (93.0 mph) is excellent, and his xwOBA (.432) is in the top 3% of the league. He’s not playing every day, but Pence can run a little too, and Texas often plays like Coors Field during the summer months, so he’s surprisingly back on the fantasy radar.

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