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At this point of the Fantasy Baseball season, for those in roto leagues, you need to be focusing more on statistical categories and spending less time on gauging overall player value.

You may be able to make up significant ground in a certain category with a single player. If you can do this without sacrificing much on the other roto categories, then that specialist player could potentially have a greater value to you than a five category stud.

Recently, home runs are up again. There has been plenty of discussion regarding the death of the long ball, but so far in 2016, balls are leaving the yard at the highest rate since 2000. This also happens to be the second highest home run rate ever; power is back baby!

At the other end of the spectrum, the art of the stolen base continues to disappear into oblivion. The year-to-date stolen base pace would be the lowest since 1972. Teams seem to be sitting back and waiting for the home run. Players that swipe bags at an elite rate are now an extremely valuable asset since they can single handedly win you a roto category.

In this week’s Fantasy Lookout, we will present to you three likely available stolen base threats that could help you steal your way to a Fantasy Championship.

The Fantasy Lookout

Underappreciated Stolen Base Threats

If you are looking to make up significant ground in the stolen base category then today is your lucky day. We have looked at recent statistics (past 30 days) and searched the waiver wire for the stolen base leaders. We have found three jackrabbits that likely available in your league right now.

Travis Jankowski, OF, San Diego Padres (4-percent owned in Yahoo leagues)

For the most part, Jankowski has been only seen spot duty this year. However, with the recent injury to Jon Jay, Jankowski has been a semi-regular player and he has been a serious threat on the base paths.

Over the past month, Jankowski has recorded 11 of 16 steals, which is good for second in all of baseball. For the year, his batted ball profile is extremely impressive. He owns a line drive rate over 30-percent and his 3.64 GB/FB ratio is ideal for a hitter with his skillset.

The expected return of Jay sometime in early August clouds things a tad for Jankowski. However, with the Padres in sell mode, a regular spot in the outfield could open up in the very near future. If you have the need for speed and an open roster spot, add Jankowski and watch him fly.

Jose Peraza, 2B/OF, Cincinnati Reds (2-percent owned in Yahoo leagues)

Peraza has spent most of the year in Triple-A, where he has logged nearly three times as many plate appearances than he has with the big club. However, since mid-June, he has been in Cincinnati and has notched the occasional start in both the infield and outfield.

His minor league career is littered with impressive stolen base totals. Over the past 30 days, Peraza has swiped seven bags, which is tied for eighth. Fantasy owners should start to salivate when they see that Peraza has stolen 10 bases in just 84 plate appearances on the year.

There has been constant chatter on the Reds potentially dealing Jay Bruce or Brandon Phillips. Either trade would provide an instant boost to Peraza, as it would open an everyday role for him. With both second base and outfield eligibility in Yahoo leagues, Peraza is a great speed stash that could pay quick dividends in the very near future.

Ender Inciarte, OF, Atlanta Braves (22-percent owned in Yahoo leagues)

Inciarte got off to a slow start with his new club, as he suffered a hamstring injury in early April. Last year with the Diamondbacks, Inciarte exceeded 20 stolen bases; a mark only reached by 29 other hitters. In fact, over the past two seasons, he has swiped 40 bases, which ranks 22nd in all of baseball.

Over the past 30 days, Inciarte has stolen five bases, which places him in a tie for 13th. Inciarte should continue to see regular at-bats, and Fantasy owners should expect an immediate improvement in his batting average. Currently, he owns a .270 BABIP, a mark that is 40 points below his career number, despite having a batted ball profile very similar to what he has produced over his career.

Of the three players mentioned, Inciarte was definitely the highest ranked coming into the year. He has demonstrated to be more than just a speed specialist, as his .281 career batting average and 11 career home runs (over 1291 plate appearances) provide proof. Hop on board the positive regression train before it is too late.

 

Steals are a scarce commodity, even more than home runs. Chances are that multiple teams in your league are bunched up within the stolen base category. Snag one of these three speed demons and break away from the group. Until next week’s Fantasy Lookout, enjoy the games!

 

Data courtesy of www.fangraphs and www.baseball-reference.com

 

 

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