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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Washington, D.C. has two Spans. If you like politics and live footage of people walking around in suits on a video feed, then C-SPAN (2:43) is your best bet in the capital city. If you prefer players who can help you win some fantasy leagues, than you better go with D-SPAN. Denard Span is currently owned in less than 50% of ESPN fantasy leagues but he’s got as many steals as guys like Brett Gardner, Coco Crisp, and Alex Rios. He’s only been caught twice, and hitting at the top of a Nationals lineup that now sports a healthy Bryce Harper to go along with Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth should give Span nice opportunities to score runs as well. He’s hitting .276 on the year and should see that average maintain in the second half. If the Nationals offense cooperates, he should see 90 runs scored and 25 stolen bases by the end of the season. He hits for no power, but contributing to three of the five standard fantasy categories comes in handy from a waiver wire grab. This week Span will face the Rockies and Reds, who have both been stingy against the stolen base. If you have an injured outfielder or need a reserve, Span is worth a look though. Here are some other steals options for this week in 2014 fantasy baseball…

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jeter1

Has the Derek Jeter Memorial Midsummer lovefest ended in Minnesota yet? I need an afterglow cigarette and one of those Jeter gift baskets after that All-Star reach around. Hey, as a Red Sox fan I can actually tip the turban to Jeter for a great career ( I just vomited in my mouth a little), but it’s not like Jeets is on his death bed muttering “Rosebud” or was the greatest player of his generation. Or was he? At least Adam Wainwright wasn’t grooving pitches to him for the last 20 years. With the fantasy DT’s settling in, I turned my trembling hands to Razzball’s Historical Fantasy Baseball Player Rater to check the numbers. I was surprised by what I found. No surprise that the top 3 fantasy players of all-time were Ruth, Aaron and Cobb, but it is interesting to note that Jeter ranks in the top 50 at No. 41. The Yankees captain ranks just ahead of Hall of Famers like Jim Rice, Paul Molitor, George Brett and should be Hall of Famer Pete Rose. According to the Razzball Rater, Jeter is the No.6 shortstop all-time ahead of Robin Yount, Barry Larkin, Joe Cronin and Pee Wee Reese. Now, as Jeter rides off into the pinstriped sunset, he currently ranks as the 22nd best shortstop in our fake ballin’ world. Not great, but still better than more heavily owned players like J.J. Hardy, Xander Bogaerts and Brad Miller. In honor of the departing Jeets, his “dating diamond”, the Midsummer Classic and the fantasy baseball DT’s, let’s jam or cram the currently under-owned (60% or less) waiver wire All-Stars.

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Well that was a nice easy title to kick things off after a week’s vacation. All that fresh sea air and funnel cake at the Jersey Shore really refreshed me spiritually. Of course the Atlantic City Expressway had the reverse effect, so I guess I have to call it a wash. This week, James Jones and his five steals in two weeks is getting the lede. Jones went from being more of a deep/AL-only play to mixed league relevant rather quickly. His biggest asset in fantasy is obviously the speed, and he’s now 17-for-18 in stolen base attempts in just 228 plate appearances. The 25-year-old outfielder bats from the left side and he’s a no-brainer add if you need some cheap steals out of an OF5 slot. Jones will face off against the Twins and Athletics this week. The Twins are just outside the top ten in MLB for steals allowed. By the by, it’s hard not to think of James Earl Jones when discussing this guy. My association with JEJ isn’t Darth Vader or Field of Dreams, though. It’s as the host of Long Ago & Far Away, a trippy claymation style kid’s show. Maybe there are some other thirty-somethings out there who remember the Pied Piper episode as vividly as I do. I digress. Here are some other steals plays for this week in 2014 fantasy baseball…

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Sometimes, you wanna feel like the smartest guy/gal/thing in the room. Of course, that would have to make the title ‘Summa Iwakuma Laude’ but I didn’t like the flow of ‘Summa Iwakuma’. My titles are ridiculous enough anyways, I don’t need unintentional rhyme muddying the waters along with it. So we chose ‘with great honor’ rather than ‘with highest honor’. We just replaced ‘cum’ with Hisashi Iwakuma…you better read that word in latin, perv! Not Hisashi, of course, since his name is in his native language of Japanese. So did I just create a new language? Jatin? Lapanese? Eh, I’ll leave the Bennifers to Hollywood at this point. But really, Hisashi should make you feel like you graduated with honors from Sports Tech Fantasy University (GO STFU!) as his price of $9,100 on DraftKings puts him behind the big three 10K+ pitchers on the day but the Stream-o-nator says his start is the tops of his class on the day. I do think because of the bigger names on the slate, Iwakuma will have a slightly lower ownership than normal despite the fact his start is at home and against a whiff-happy team. Much like my pick up skills will be on the Razzball Radio Tour, the Twins strike out rates are at the bottom of the league already but when they step out on the road, they’re even worse as they own the second worst K% while out Jack Kerouac’ing. So let’s swing our tassel from one side to the other and walk down that aisle…ahem, I meant graduation tassels and the hat. Seriously! Well, whatever, you’ve graduated to the rest of the picks. Now get out of this lead and take your dirty mind with you! Here’s the rest of the Razzball picks for July 7th contests…

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At least one of you is reading this with a bandaged thumb from a fireworks mishap. I had a Cousin Pete (Italian side of the family) who lost the tip of his thumb on the 4th, but rather than stop the festivities, he taped the tip of a hot dog on his thumb to act as a tourniquet for the rest of the 4th, so we could all go about our fun-having business. I suggested my Cugino make a PSA about hot dog tourniquets, but I was turned away by NBC Cares. Let us bow our heads and pray that if anyone loses a finger, may there be a proper-sized hot dog nearby. Robinson Cano hasn’t been bad. Let’s put that misconception behind our ears like the baby ounce of Drakkar you do every morning. Not bad. Low on homers? Yes. Not bad though. The perception is he’s struggling. Having a real hard time of it in Safeco. He’s on pace for better numbers than last year, except for power. So, where did all the power go? (I sang that like Paula Cole.) He’s insanely off for homers per fly ball, and down in the fly ball department, in general. Those aren’t great things, but — what are you gonna do with that big fat but? — his April/May are dragging down the homers per fly ball. He had four homers in June and looked relatively the same as he’s always looked. There’s no way he makes it to 25 homers on the year (he’s at 6), but four homers per month is doable and about what you always got from Cano. As already pointed out, he’s still doing everything else that made him a top 12 player in March, so if someone is down on Cano, in the non-sexual way, I’d look to see if I could buy him a little cheaper than he’s actually worth. Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

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If you take enough shrooms, you start to dream about how Rick Porcello is from the magical land of Zeranok, where Buehrles and Moyers can cruise 15 MPH below the speed limit. Off shrooms, you just see Zeranok as zero ERA, no K. Yesterday’s 9 IP, 0 ER, 4 baserunners, 0 Ks was solid, great, adjective. Hard to not get excited about a complete game shutout, but I’m gonna try. Heard a lot made of the fact that Porcello only needed 95 pitches to finish off the A’s. That’s wonderful. Somewhere, Greg Maddux smiled, then he tried to go behind the counter at his local post office to show them how they can be more efficient and nearly got arrested. “Can we all just form a two-person line as we wait for Wet Willie’s Wild Slide?” That’s Maddux at a water park with his kids. I hear ya, Greg, when people are grouped together in a party of six in an amusement park line it drives me crazy too. The worst is when they get up to the front and suddenly they have 25 other friends that were with them. Any the hoo! A 95 pitch CG SHO is great IRL (you like how I was illustrating efficiency with acronyms; though this parenthetical defeats that purpose), but Porcello’s efficiency doesn’t do a whole lot for me in fantasy if it comes with no Ks. His K-rate is 5.2 and his walk rate is 2. That’s pretty blehtastic. I’d own him, since he gets the Rays next. He’s not suddenly shooting up to ace status for fantasy. I know, I know, that Porcello is one funghi, but he’s actually pretty close to borderline for 12-team mixed leagues. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Wanna really mess with your brain? Think about how you could have the same thing as Guy Pearce in Memento and you would never know. Okay, don’t think about it too long, it’ll mess with your brain too much and then I’m gonna get sued by your loved ones. “Judge, Grey Albright, Fantasy Master Lothario (don’t abbreviate it), told my darling boy, Josh, to think about how he could have a brain dysfunction and now I have to change his diaper and order in for Chinese food every fifteen minutes because he keeps forgetting he just ate.” That’s your momma in front of the judge, suing me. Steve Pearce is a thirty-one-year-old journeyman. That’s not a cartographer, that’s a guy who isn’t very good and just travels around offering his services for all-you-can-drink Gatorade. Yes, he hit two homers yesterday and has hit 9 homers in just two months while batting .336. This isn’t a matter of “Maybe he’s breaking out now.” No, there’s no breaking out for Steve Pearce. He doesn’t even sound right if you don’t say his full name. There’s no Steve and no Pearce. There’s only Steve Pearce and he’s the hottest schmotato in the land and is worth picking up while he’s swinging a hot bat, but I wouldn’t expect it to last that long. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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