We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2014 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2014 Rangers Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Joseph Pytleski from RotoBanter.

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SAGNOF refers to “saves/steals ain’t got no face”. In other words, they can come from unlikely sources throughout the season and us fantasy baseball folk shouldn’t sell the farm for them on draft day. Let me tell you, 2013 was no exception. When I received my series assignment from Grey earlier this year, I was excited to explore steals as a topic for my column, if only because I knew it would help a lot of people out there do better in the category. I also couldn’t recall many other fantasy sites hitting steals as a primary topic week-in and week out, so hats off to Razzball for being ahead of the game yet again.

It was fascinating to follow along as players rose and fell in value based on steals alone, and even more fascinating to watch match-ups against certain teams yield steals in bunches. This offseason, I’ll be posting every other week and sticking with the stolen base as my focus. We’ll start by taking a look back, but then we’ll shift our gaze forward to 2014 and see if we can get a leg up on the competition prior to our drafts next spring. Let’s get started with a look at the big picture when it comes to steals over the last five years…

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Top 20 catchers, 1st basemen and 2nd basemen are in the books. What a strange, glorious trip it’s been! Though not really. Today, the top 20 shortstops for 2013 fantasy baseball get to shine. Hmm… Actually, most of these won’t shine. They’re cloudy with a chance of crapballs. To be a bit more specific, the top ten shortstops were about equal with the 2nd basemen through the top 10, then they actually go a bit deeper than the 2nd basemen. Yes, shortstops are deeper. Barely. Mike Aviles was 18th overall for 2nd basemen, here he doesn’t even make the list coming in 22nd. Either way, it’s ugly. Okay, enough of the hubbub on the tomfoolery. To recap, this final ranking is from our Fantasy Baseball Player Rater with my comments. The Player Rater allows me to be impartial while looking at how I ranked them in the preseason. Anyway, here’s the top 20 shortstops for 2013 fantasy baseball and how they compare to where I originally ranked them:

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Sorry, I was just testing out these new three-ply tissues Cougs bought for me. I wasn’t crying. I was cutting onions while watching Manny Machado get hurt. When you think you’ve had too much of this life, hang on. Everyone hurts…sometimes! Michael Stipe, you are my bald little friend that sits in my glove compartment and waits for me to be sad to come out and sing to me. Sit on my lap, Stipe, and tell me it’s going to be okay. Tell me Machado won’t struggle to be healthy again by next year. Alas… Jesus, what a depressing way to start a sentence. Alas? Alas my ass, Machado’s hurt bad. It’s a shame. Not because I own him this year, but I don’t want anything to stand in the way of me liking him in 2014 and a knee injury is the kind of thing that could deflate my enthusiasm. Oh, well, guess we’ll see how he’s doing next February. For right now, feel free to drop him. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Gerrit Cole has filthy stuff. He can hit 100 MPH with his fastball and make all four of our girl readers go, “Ooh…” Which reminds me of my Walk on the Wild Side remixed chorus, “And the four girl readers go doo do doo do doo do do doo.” There was a whole lot of nonsense, or whole lotta if we stick with the rock theme, when he was first called up that Cole didn’t want to strike people out. Does Alf not want to get back to Melmac?! Does macaroni not mean awesome when Yankee Doodle stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni!? Does everyone with glasses not look goofy on a 1980′s baseball card?! Ron Kittle? I rest my case! Of course, Cole wants to strike out guys. You can’t stop that! Yesterday, he struck out 12 of them. In 111 1/3 IP this year, he has a 7.60 K-rate and if you throw out June, when he was saying that nonsense about throwing to contact, his K-rate would be near 9. Oh, bee tee dubya, everything else is purdy, too. His FIP is 2.98, his walk rate is barely over 2, he gets ground balls. For 2014 fantasy baseball, Cole could easily be a top 20 starter for all of baseball and will be someone I’ll get plenty googly about this offseason. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Felix Hernandez was scratched from his Wednesday start with an oblique strain. Guys and four girl readers, you can’t be too precious with your guys. That whole credo “dance with the one who brought you” is real cavalier. You’re a real gentleman as you lounge about in sweat pants while your woman cooks you dinner. It’s honorable. Remind me to submit you to the Reader’s Digest Five Humans That Make A Difference contest. It’s also silly for fantasy baseball. Save your loyalty for your kids when they ask you, “Daddy, do you like me more than your automobile?” Or, “Daddy, how come you were hugging the mail lady for ten minutes with your hands on her butt?” Forget your loyalty for your starting pitchers (or hitters). Felix could throw this weekend to see if he can start again this year. If you’re strapped for space, I’d absolutely look elsewhere. What’s the worst thing that happens? You miss two starts from him? His last starts weren’t even great. You could find better starts off of waivers. Look at me having faith in you! Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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I’ve been mentioning him here and there in the blurb sections of the roundups, but I can’t wait until Friday’s Buy, or until the offseason when I’m gonna gush over him in a sleeper post. I love Cody Asche. I love him for everything he is, and for everything he’s not. One thing he’s not is on many, if anyone’s radar. He’s not even owned in 1% of ESPN leagues, though once Matthew Berry picks him up on 24,000 of his teams that number will shoot up to 99% owned. Yesterday, Asche went 3-for-4, 3 RBIs and his 3rd homer in 28 games. Prorate that over a full season and he’s hitting 40 homers– Wait, I had my calculator to Chris Davis math. Okay, so it’s only about 15-20 homers, but he can also steal 10 bases and should hit around .290. He’s like a modern day Eric Hosmer, if Eric Hosmer weren’t already modern day. I remixing The Game for this Outkast and Asche’s to Asche’s, ah ha, don’t make me hush this fuss! Why do I love him for this year, but much more for 2014 fantasy baseball? The Phillies need to move towards the future, and Asche will have a starting job, and get drafted in the late 200′s in most mixed leagues, but have the upside of a 70/17/82/.285/10 player. Yes, I just gave you my first 2014 projection. Cody Asche, you make me excited, let’s cuddle. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Taijuan Walker will start vs. the Astros on Friday. The Mariners’ front office decided if they were going to sell him for ten cents on the dollar this offseason, then it was best to give him some major league experience. Here’s what Prospect Scott had to say in the preseason, “Walker is my #3 overall SP prospect, behind only Dylan Bundy and Jose Fernandez. He brings legit ace potential, and he should be ready for big league ball this year. Still, Taijuan’s greatest asset is his ability to hit Grey in the head with a fastball every time I dream about it.” Hey! That snippet was obviously prior to Bundy’s injury problems. Here’s what I said the other day, “It could be roofie burnout, but I’m not interested in shallower mixed leagues. In deeper leagues, I’d stash Walker to see if you catch a firefly in a bottle, or whatever that yokelism is. He definitely has shown great stuff in the minors (10+ K-rate) if a bit wild (4+ BB/9) in Triple-A. He will be a great pitcher, it probably won’t be this year. Think Wheeler when he was called up.” And that’s me quoting me! Well, I also lied. Kinda. I didn’t intend to lie, but he was just sitting there and I had a free roster spot… Ugh, I’m a glutton for punishment. I need serious help. Why can’t I turn down any high-upside rookie pitcher? Am I an adrenaline junkie like Keanu Reeves in Point Break? Hopefully, Walker doesn’t hang ten earned runs on my pitching line, but I’m expecting him to get Ks and have a relatively unremarkable start on Friday for earned runs and WHIP. For 2014, Taijuan is on the top of the list of guys that could be Matt Harvey 2.0, and I’ll have much more to say about him in the offseason. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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There’s a new love of my life. No, it’s not the Georgia girl on MasterChef, though she’s all right. His name is Danny Salazar, and he’s a sexy beast that makes me want to get all flirty and shizz. I call him K-zar. It’s pronounced like czar, so it’s a soft K like his touch, but that’s where the softness ends. He was regularly hitting 99 MPH on the speed gun-measuring-MPH-thingie and even topped out at triple digits. Swoon. He made the Tigers looks like the Mariners until Miggy got a hold of one on his last pitch of the game — 7 2/3 IP, 4 ER, 6 baserunners, 10 Ks. Doesn’t matter, he gets the Twins next then the A’s in Oakland. I know, what about Corey Kluber? Who’s going to sell energy drinks and tell all the ravey Asian kids where the after-hours party is without Kluber?! Sigh, I know. We’re over him now. He’s going to be out until late-September and Salazar is taking his place in the rotation. I want Salazar in every single league. Yeah, that one. Yup, that one too. Go to it, young prematurely balding man! Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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In the spring of 2013, Astro fans celebrated through the streets of Houston, shooting guns in the air and playing Houston’s own, Mind Playing Tricks On Me and Whitney Houston’s Greatest Hits, because her last name hailed from there. Those fans (all 17 of them) were celebrating the Astros’ National League exodus. “Let my people go, NL!” That’s what they chanted for years. “We need a fresh start like our entire body is covered in deodorant.” That’s what they told each other. Unfortch, no one explained to them that they wouldn’t just be able to play split squad games in their own league, they would have to join the AL. Yesterday, the Sawx destroyed them for 15 runs. Jacoby Ellsbury hit two homers (6 & 7), scored four runs, knocked in three and went 2-for-4. David Ortiz went 4-for-4 with 2 runs, 2 RBIs and one big belly laugh at what A-Rod is going through. Shane Victorino went 3-for-5 with 4 runs and even walked once in honor of Jackie Bradley Jr. Jonny Gomes hit a homer and knocked in four runs and he didn’t even start. This was also a reminder to not go near any Lastro pitcher. A sad, sad reminder. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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