Today we put the finishing touches on one of dynasty baseball’s toughest positions.
People just don’t trade speedy outfielders who can hit.
Or at least they shouldn’t.
Sure a Jarrod Dyson might get vacuumed up at basement pricing every now and then, but if you’ve got Starling Marte, Victor Robles or Oscar Mercado, you’re probably not that interested in the offers you’ve gotten for them. Speed players who contribute across the board are the dodo birds of our game. Outfield and middle infield are typically the only places to find them, apart from the occasional Jose Ramirez or prime-age Paul Goldschmidt. You flat out need some speed covering the green if you’re hoping to compete in the category, and I’m just not the type to advocate punting a category in 5×5. Trying to win leagues over here–not tell tales about fading saves and steals but hanging in with the top group anyway.
Anyway, best to get ‘em young while they’re cheap. I wouldn’t be paying up for all the guys like Pache who show aptitude in the lower minors, but if I can take a fistful of freemium fliers on guys like Jasiah Dixon and Jeferson Espinal, I’m doing that all day.
Maybe they’ll stop hitting or running as they grow into bigger humans against better competition, but if the cost is time and a roster spot for an elite asset, I’ll do all I can to pay it.
You can scan the upper minors for undervalued steals, too. Tommy Edman was the first name that came to mind here, but Mercado’s buying window was open for a long while before he debuted, but he slammed it shut with early stolen bases, and I think that’s going to be the case for a long time. Once a player has proven he can steal big league bases and hang in at the dish, his price will skyrocket. (Monte Harrison, anyone?) I don’t see many reasons for this trend to change unless MLB moves all the fences back and forces teams to manufacture.
Or maybe when the robots happen, catchers will get worse at defense in general, but throwing is already on the back-burner when evaluating that spot, and backstops are in the habit of freeze-framing pitches whether someone’s on the move or not, so maybe success rates will drop if framing leaves the game. In this hypothetical, catchers unleash their inner Pudge, throwing behind runners every other pitch, building in a Pavlovian quickness.
Another way this could change is if prospect writers start factoring stolen bases into their every thought, closing the gap between a guy like Mercado’s pre-debut and post-debut values. Base-thievery is currently treated as a secondary skill (from my vantage point, anyway)–a necessary evil if you want your lists to mirror the real-game lists because steals are not valued highly by most front offices.
Whew, more paragraph-type words than I meant to have here, but that’s it for now.
Thanks for reading!
I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter and reddit.