When I went hunting for players to write about this week, I had trouble finding somebody for the lede. Most of the tried and true speedsters are owned everywhere, and I wasn’t liking the match-ups I saw for the borderline guys. Then, as the fantasy writer gods often do, they dropped a pair of rookies in my lap. A couple of fresh faces have arrived on the scene in Junior Lake and Jonathan Villar. Lake, a speedy infielder turned outfielder, was called up by the Cubs. While I was mildly interested in his solid debut performance Friday night, I became even more interested when I started to look into his minor league numbers. Like “cyclops with a monocle” interested as they say here in Razzball land. Even more exciting was the Villar call-up that was announced yesterday. The young Houston shortstop also showed above average speed in the minor leagues. We’ll take a closer look at both and set the mood for a little ‘rookie nookie’. Meanwhile, at the adult table, Eric Young continues to rack up the steals and should do some major damage against the Nationals later this week.
Junior Lake - (This week: @ARI, @SF)
While questions about his playing time will certainly arise when David DeJesus gets healthy, the fact is Junior Lake can run. Across two levels of the minor leagues in 2011, Lake stole almost 40 bags in 116 games. In 2012 at Double-A he stole 21 in 103 games. His 3 for 4 performance on Friday night (with a steal) was fun to watch. If he can continue to hit and force his way into playing time with the Cubs, he could be a sneaky source of speed in the second half. It’s also worth noting that he can play pretty much wherever the Cubs need him to, and with Chicago looking to make some trades, younger guys like Lake could get an extended look. He’s got a nice match-up this week against the Giants, who aren’t so hot against the run.
Jonathan Villar - (This week: OAK, @TOR)
The Astros announced yesterday that Villar would be called up to be the team’s starting shortstop. Unlike Lake, there should be no questions about his playing time and he’s got just as much, if not more, base stealing potential. In just 86 games with Double -A Corpus Christi last year (Go Hooks!) he racked up a whopping 39 stolen bases. Through 90 games with Triple-A Oklahoma City this year (Go RedHawks!) he’s swiped 31 bags and has been caught only 7 times, for a solid 82% success rate. Even if his bat doesn’t immediately translate at the major league level, his speed alone could carry fantasy value at the shortstop position. He’s an exciting call-up and should be monitored closely if you’re in need of a middle infielder with steals upside.
**GREEN LIGHT SPECIAL**
Eric Young - (This week: ATL, @WAS)
By now you certainly don’t need me to tell you to grab Eric Young Jr (he’s owned in 100% of Razzball leagues) , but he’s still out there in some ESPN and Yahoo leagues and he really shouldn’t be. He’s stolen a whopping 9 bases since July 4th and has found new life with the Mets as their leadoff hitter. I have gotten a couple questions in the comments about whether he will gain 2B eligibility. While it’s probably not likely that he’ll get there anytime soon, he still has a ton of value for your fantasy team as a fourth or fifth outfielder or bench bat, and if he so happens to make the cut for 2B in the meantime, it’s all gravy. If you are slotting EY2 in and out of your lineup, make sure to get him in there as a starter against the Nationals later this week. Stealing bases against the Nats is like shooting fish in a barrel (MLB worst 12% CS%). EY2 will see them four times, which includes a doubleheader on
Thursday Friday. Hence the ‘Green Light Special’ tag.
Teams highlighted in green are in the top ten in most stolen bases allowed.
Teams highlighted in red are in the top ten in least stolen bases allowed.
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