With B.J. Upton’s struggles and Jordan Schafer returning from the disabled list a few weeks ago, the Braves have quietly moved to a platoon in centerfield. This obviously destroys almost all of B.J. Upton’s fantasy value for any owner who was holding onto him down the stretch, and makes Schafer an ownable asset for teams in need of some steals.
This late in the roto season, many categories are close to locked in. If you have the ability to sacrifice power for speed and need to acquire a speedster on the cheap, Jordan Schafer may actually be that guy. He has experienced a resurgence in his part time role in Atlanta, hitting .291/.383/.426 in 165 plate appearances. Even if the Braves go back to B.J. Upton every day in center, with how locked up the Braves are in first place Schafer should see a good deal of playing time in order to keep Justin Upton and Jason Heyward fresh for the playoffs.
This season, Schafer is hitting .317 against righties compared to .111 against lefties. For his career, he hits .247 against righties and just .174 against lefties –with a .333 OBP against righties to boot. Is he a great hitter by any means? No, but he gets on base against righties at a decent clip and he’s a pretty smooth base runner, stealing 13 of 16 bags this year and grabbing 49 in his previous 615 plate appearances. Given a full season of time, Schafer is one of the better base stealers around and he should be receiving close to 80% of the playing time in center field as long as this platoon lasts.
The Braves have a history of having their backup position players perform over their head. With more playing time than he has seen, his numbers are likely to drop back closer to his career norms rather than his season totals. Do not expect Schafer to continue to hit near .300 with a very impressive OBP for the remainder of the year. Instead look more at him hitting his career numbers of .250/.333 with a good amount of steals. He is especially useful in daily leagues where you can sit him on his days off if you are able to put him on the bench during his days off.
Subtle moves like adding Schafer now when almost nobody in your league is considering doing so should be able to allow you to leap frog a few opponents if you are close to them in stolen base count. In head-to-head leagues he should be able to help in your steals category and not kill you in average or OBP since he is being limited to facing right-handed pitchers. Unfortunately he is hitting toward the bottom of the lineup, so do not expect a ton of runs from him since Jason Heyward has occupied the leadoff spot. Regardless, Schafer is a sneaky add to help you with speed and if you have a dire need of adding some steals you probably will not find a cheaper avenue.
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