I’m a value oriented fantasy manager.  I’m not a believer in positional scarcity and I take that approach (aka meritocracy) to my draft by relying largely on projections.  When evaluating my slumping players I look at their projections and peripherals to see if the slump means anything.  When looking at the hot players in the player pool I take the same approach.  I am going to make recommendations to you based on these approaches.  For the next in line closers it means recommending players with good projections but also considering each players chance to close in the future.  For base stealers it means making sure the player won’t destroy your AVG or at least letting you know if he’s going to.

This week in SAGNOF (Saves Ain’t Got No Face) Recap: Early last week Adam Ottavino ascended into the closer role for Colorado and it looks at the very least to be semi-permanent.  He was previously my 7th best next in line closer to own.  Formerly my 2nd best next in line closer to own, Joakim Soria had ascended due to an injury to Joe Nathan, who should be back soon and will regain his closer role.  Jordan Walden notched a save last night but it appears Trevor Rosenthal was being given the night off.  Now onto this week’s recommendations…

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Why does it seem like there’s always more closer situations in flux in the first week than at any other time?  Well, whether that’s true or not, this year was no different.  Don’t even try to think about what that actually means.  Here’s your sumary: By Thursday there were already three new closers, then Sunday we had two old guys getting worked like speed bags at your local gym.

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Saves can often come from little known sources.  That concept is something we Razzballers call SAGNOF – Saves Ain’t Got No Face.  I played in one RCL (Razzball Commenter League) last year and in that league I owned Sean Doolittle from Sunday March 30th until the last day of the season.  I didn’t draft him.  I picked him up because I was looking for someone that could help with ERA and WHIP as well as adding some additional Ks (the latter of which can’t be bolstered through extra starting pitchers because of the games started limit) and his projections indicated he was worth it.  I didn’t really care about whether he was going to contribute any saves because I had David Robertson, Steve Cishek, and a DL’d Aroldis Chapman which seemed like a good group for a 12-team league.

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The season is nearly upon us, and as Jay put it on Saturday, this is what this series is about in a nutshell: Lance will then take you on a SAGNOF journey, so special, we’re calling it the SAGNOF Special. For those not initiated, SAGNOF stands for Steals/Saves Ain’t Got No Face… because they don’t. It would be creepy. Like J-FOH. During this series, Lance will go over some attractive and available options for your team if you are in need of steals or saves. If only he could do that for my dating-life.” Remember, they “ain’t” got no face because there is speed and potential saves everywhere, and like Jay said, I’m here to help you find them… (not dates though, those are all for me.)

Here are some speedsters I think you should be aware of before the season starts (I’ll start including some bullpen targets next week.) Draft them or pick them up, the power of the SAGNOF Special is in your hands.

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Value.  It’s the essence of fantasy baseball draft strategy.  Some players are draft day values, while others might not return value.  When you read an article and the writer speaks of “value”, the writer is trying to tell you he likes that player and thinks you should be targeting him in your drafts.  It is often his or her subjective view of a player’s value compared to the common perception of that player; a perception that may exist in the form of other rankings and engendered through ADP.  I believe very strongly in using perhaps the most objective means of player valuation available: Algorithm based player projections.  So when I say a player is a value based on his ADP it’s because the projections suggest it.  And that means I am presenting you this information without favoritism towards any particular player.  By their very nature the projections have no favoritism and a player’s ADP is simply a fact.

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Speed is the easiest 5×5 category to find late in the draft.  In most drafts last year, Rajai Davis was an afterthought.  A guy to pick up in the late rounds of 12-team drafts and a guy who probably went undrafted in many 10-team drafts.  Last year I played in one Razzball Commenter League, and in that league I took Davis at pick #240.  He ended up finishing #111 on Rudy’s Player Rater thanks in part to amassing 36 stolen bases.   His performance wasn’t particularly above his normal levels, with the exception of batting average.  He did receive more ABs than projected.  Even if he hadn’t played more than projected I’m fairly sure he would still found his way into the top 150-200ish on the 2014 player rater.  Which is to say, in multiple ways, that he was a value.

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The season ends this week, which means pretty soon I’ll be DVR’ing AFL games and streaming grainy video of the Dominican Winter League to get me through the bitter offseason. For the teams that are still in it, a close battle in the steals category can sometimes mean the difference between winning and losing. We’ve turned to many different SAGNOF types this year, but with so few games left I’m looking at adding any and all players that can help me gain ground in the category – even if they are just pinch runners. Listed below are four players who may steal a base or two even if they do absolutely nothing else. That includes getting a hit. This strategy is best for leagues where you can afford to lose a marginal player, you can make daily roster moves, and you have a cushion in the other cats like homers and RBIs. Personally, I’m rostering some of these pinch runners in leagues where I need 3 or 4 steals to catch that next point in the roto standings. Teams highlighted in green are below league average in caught stealing percentage, making them good targets. All of these players have seven games this week so they have the most opportunities to get in there and swipe a bag. Good luck on the basepaths and I’m looking forward to seeing you all at Grey’s place for the big “football” game. Make sure you bring the poppers.

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If you’re one of the seventy percent of ESPN fantasy owners who haven’t jumped on board the A.J. Pollock train, let’s fix that for the weekend. The Diamondbacks’ 26-year-old outfielder has hits in 9 of his 13 games since returning from the disabled list and also has four steals. He’ll get a four-game set in Colorado heading into the weekend which is great for any hitter, but especially good from a steals perspective. Colorado owns baseball’s worst caught stealing percentage at 17%. The league average mark on the year is 27%. With Pollock currently owned in just 30% of ESPN leagues, he should be available to pick up. If he happens to be gone in your league, here are some other good steals matchups for this week in fantasy baseball…

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Nothing captures a reader’s interest more than an Al Gore reference. At this point in the long fantasy baseball season you don’t need me to tell you that Jarrod Dyson is a good pickup for SAGNOF. Likewise, it’s not in anybody’s best interest for me to write a thousand words on a player who may only hold steals value in some deep AL-only league. However, there are still schedules to look at and several players that have speed were called up to their respective clubs in the past week. Billy Burns of the Athletics didn’t do much with his first stint in the majors, but could chip in a steal or three down the stretch even if his role is as a pinch runner. Likewise for Terrance Gore of the Royals. Gore stole 47 bags in the minors this season and was caught only seven times. In 2013 he swiped 68 bags and was caught only 8 times. Gore has already recorded a steal as a pinch runner and should see opportunities for more of the same in the weeks ahead. Other speedy call-ups include Jonathan Villar, Dalton Pompey, and Aaron Hicks.

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It’s September, and many fantasy owners have taken an all-hands-on-deck approach to their teams as they try to win their weekly matchups or gain ground in roto categories. With just about four weeks left, I’ll use this post to give you as much steals information as possible to help you make your roster decisions in weekly or daily leagues. I would strongly suggest using the new Pitcher Planner and Hitter Planner tools in addition to the regular Stream-o-Nator and Hitter-Tron. There is also a SB vs. SP rate tool that provides some data specifically tailored to stolen bases.

While I find rummaging through leaderboards to be a pleasurable venture, that may not be the case for everyone. So without anything more from me, here are a few tables of data that you may find helpful and time-saving. Good luck down the stretch and may your steals be plentiful!

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