Ryan Boyer

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Undervalued Speed

Friday, February 03, 2012

Sure, we would all like to pick up guys like Matt Kemp and Jacoby Ellsbury that give you an abundance of both power and speed. The reality, of course, is that it’s not going to happen.


Somewhere along the line -- unless you plan on punting the steals category -- you’re probably going to have to draft players whose primary fantasy asset is their wheels. The guys listed below could wind up returning a nice value based on where they’re currently being taken in drafts.


By the way, you can find projections on the following players and hundreds more in the 2012 Rotoworld Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide. It’s well worth the $19.99. Trust me.


Dee Gordon, SS, Dodgers

Gordon has no power, having failed to go deep a single time in the majors or minors last season. And, while he did hit .304 in his time with the Dodgers last year and .303 in his minor league career, he seems unlikely to approach that number in his first full season. But, the guy is lightning-fast, which he showed by swiping 24 bases in 31 tries over just 56 games for the Dodgers while adding another 30 pilfers at Triple-A. For a shortstop capable of 50 steals, he should be picked well before the 12th round, which is where he’s been going in early drafts.


Cameron Maybin, OF, Padres

D.J. Short did a good job on Wednesday of providing reasons why Maybin has been undervalued, so I don’t feel the need to go too in-depth on him. It seems to be forgotten, though, that the 24-year-old swiped 40 bags last year, and he could have some more untapped power potential, even in Petco Park.


Ben Revere, OF, Twins

Like Gordon, Revere has little-to-no power, and he doesn’t have the added benefit of being eligible at shortstop. But, the former first-round pick is also a burner, swiping 34 bags in 117 games for the Twins last season while adding another eight at Triple-A. Revere is also a career .326 hitter in the minors, so he might not be a speed-only guy. He’s gone unpicked in some early drafts, which is silly for a guy that could surpass the 40-steal mark.


Jose Tabata, OF, Pirates

Tabata had trouble staying healthy in 2011, playing in just 91 games because of wrist, hand, and quad problems. But, this is a guy that pilfered 44 bases in 2010 between the majors and minors, and the 23-year-old could have some untapped power potential, as well. Tabata can likely be had as a late-round addition to fill out your outfield, but he could wind up producing like a mid-round fantasy option.


Austin Jackson, OF, Tigers

There’s no doubt that Jackson has his warts. He swings and misses way too much, especially for a leadoff hitter, and he doesn’t draw enough walks to make up for it. But, he stole over 20 bases again in 2011 and that number figures to rise if his average bounces back even a little bit. There’s also the fact that Jackson’s power could continue to grow and he should score more runs with the addition of Prince Fielder to the lineup. He’s being taken around Round 20, which is probably a few rounds too late.


Alejandro De Aza, OF, White Sox

De Aza’s name doesn’t excite, but he put together a nifty .329/.400/.520 batting line with 12 steals for the White Sox in 2011, which was even better than the .322/.378/.494 line with 22 steals that he had at Triple-A. Slated to turn 28 in April, De Aza hasn’t embarrassed himself in his chances at the major league level and looks to be the favorite to bat leadoff for the Sox in 2012. He’s and under-the-radar option for 30 steals that’s been going undrafted in many leagues to this point.


Lorenzo Cain, OF, Royals

With Melky Cabrera out of the picture, Cain will get a shot at a full-time gig in 2011. A superb athlete, the 25-year-old (he’ll be 26 in April) batted a healthy .312/.380/.497 with 16 homers, 81 RBI and 16 steals for Triple-A Omaha this past season. The 16 steals were a disappointment, as it’s the first time he’s swiped fewer than 24 in a full season. We’re expecting over 20 steals from him in 2012, and he could certainly surpass 30 if he gets his technique down and reaches base at a reasonable clip.

Ryan Boyer is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. He can also be found on Twitter.
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