Nyjer Morgan (Yahoo: 18 percent, ESPN: 19 percent owned)
There are plenty of players out there who are known more for their antics than for their production, and Morgan may well be one of them, but when his alter egos have alter egos, it’s hard to blame people for failing to dig deeper than that. However, if you’re one of the people who follow T-Plush on twitter, but not in the box score, you’re missing out.
Morgan is wrapping up a career year and has become a much better rounded player than he was in previous seasons. He’s stolen far fewer bases than in the past — just 12 this season compared to 42 in 2009 and 34 in 2010 — but he’s supplementing the steals he is getting with a .313 BA and a career best 4 HR. While his 12 steals are something of a low water mark, he has grabbed six since in the last three weeks, so there is some concrete hope that he’ll be a bigger asset in that category going forward.
While the return of Carlos Gomez could spell reduced time for Morgan, I’m less than concerned. Morgan isn’t a huge defensive liability, so the switch from Gomez to him isn’t a simple defense for offense trade; it’s a big step down at the plate for a small gain in the field. I could see Gomez stealing a few PAs a week as a late-inning defensive replacement, but the Brewers would be foolish to put the two in a straight platoon.
Dee Gordon (Yahoo: 9 percent owned, ESPN: 14 percent owned)
September call-ups are a mixed bag as far as fantasy goes, some of the players called up are worth a speculative grab, others are like ackee: toxically unripe. Though he is a rookie, Gordon isn’t a September callup in the traditional sense; his return to the Dodgers was from the disabled list, not from Albuquerque. He certainly looks healthy once again as in the six games since he returned from the DL, Gordon has 12 hits and boasts a line of .462/.462/.615.
At this point in the month, anything said about a player like Gordon should set off huge bells in your mind because of the sample size. His overall 2011 line of .277/.288/.336 is probably closer to his real talent level, but that doesn’t mean that Gordon isn’t worth your time. While his performance at the plate makes him a prime candidate for regression, his performance on the basepaths is intriguing. He’s already swiped four bags since Sept. 1, a trait, unlike his batting average, which is confirmed by his previous time in the majors.
The Dodgers are clearly keen on utilizing Gordon’s speed, as well they should be, and he should get plenty of chances to steal from the leadoff position. While he’ll have fewer opportunities as his on-base percentage rejoins reality, it seems likely that Gordon will still rack up a decent total for the rest of the month, provided he continues to get the green light.
If you need stolen bases badly, Gordon is likely to outperform Morgan. However, if you’re looking to replace an ineffective or injured player, I’d rather grab Morgan, whose production across categories seems more likely to stick around past the next week than Gordon’s does.