Brutal news here for baseball fans generally and, of course, for the Pirates…
Pirates OF Starling Marte suspended 80 games without pay after testing positive for Nandrolone, a performance-enhancing substance.
— MLB (@MLB) April 18, 2017
Starling Marte was typically selected in the second round of fantasy drafts, so his suspension is no small issue for those who’ve invested in him. The chemically enhanced version of Marte was a multi-category fantasy asset, a player with double-digit pop and 40-steal speed. And now he’s out for half-a-season, plus the postseason.
My usual advice when a three or four-stat roto star is facing an extended absence is this: Understand that you probably won’t be able to fully replace his expected contributions. You aren’t gonna find a Marte clone in your league’s free agent pool. Instead, you really need to focus on the one or two categories in which he was critical to your team — and in Marte’s case, it’s base-stealing. He swiped 47 bags last year, ranking third in baseball. Only five players last season topped 35 steals, so he’s pretty much as good as it gets in the category.
With that need in mind, here are a collection of recommended outfield pickups:
Manuel Margot, SD, 62 percent owned – He’s a top-of-the-order hitter who should be a lock for 20-plus steals in a healthy season, and he’s flashed unexpected power, too. He’s long-gone in deep, competitive leagues, however.
Jarrod Dyson, Sea, 23 percent – Another lead-off guy, though he almost certainly won’t hit for average, nor is he likely to homer, ever. Dyson has stolen 30 bases in four of the past five years, however, so he can help where you may need it most.
Domingo Santana, Mil, 27 percent – Santana was a double-digit speed guy in the minors and he’s stolen two bases this season so far. He offers power upside as well, and he’s hitting in the heart of the Brewers’ order.
Rajai Davis, Oak, 36 percent – Look, he’s old and he’s off to a miserable start (.182/.245/.364). There’s a reason he’s widely available. But he stole 43 bags for Cleveland last season, the fifth time he’d reached that plateau in his career. And you’re desperate.
Kevin Kiermaier, TB, 26 percent – He may not be a burner at the level of Marte or Davis or Dyson, but he did steal 21 bases last year (in 105 games) and 18 the season before. He should be good for 8-12 homers, too.
Kevin Pillar, Tor, 10 percent – Like Kiermaier, Pillar can occasionally go deep, plus he has proven 20-steal speed. He’s also a .270-ish hitter batting at the top of a quality lineup.
Adam Frazier, Pit, 4 percent – He’s the short-term answer for the Bucs, but I’m not actually a member of the fan club. I just felt obligated to mention him. There’s only modest speed here and little pop. Let’s hope you can do a little better.
You caught a bad break today, Marte owners, but let’s not pretend you just lost Mike Trout. Don’t allow Marte’s suspension to be your excuse for fading away. You can manage around this 80-game inconvenience. Don’t make any panic trades. Stay engaged, go hit the wire.