Rajai Davis & Quintin Berry: Cheap Speed on Wire

If you’re a little light in the speed department, then a couple of situations have opened up that might interest you.  If you’re in an NL-only league, then my apologies.  Feel free to move along.  Nothing left to see here.  But if you’re in an AL-only or mixed league, then these guys just might be able to help you out.

Rajai Davis, TOR  |OF|  Ownership:  ESPN – 2.8%  Yahoo – 4.0%

This is somewhat of a continuation to Dan Wade’s post from last week that discussed Davis and his achievement of certain statistical levels based on playing time.  If you don’t feel like clicking back, the gist of it was that Davis has never stolen fewer than 29 bases in any year he garners 200 or more plate appearances and would be a legitimate fantasy asset if he could just receive the playing time.  Well Adam Lind’s demotion last week set the ball in motion and Tuesday’s demotion of Eric Thames opened things up even wider for Davis.

While manager John Farrell said that, ultimately, he’s like to have a left-handed bat in left field to help balance the heavily skewed right-handed lineup, the Jays don’t really have anyone that fits the bill right now.  Travis Snider is on the Triple-A disabled list with a nagging wrist injury, and while Anthony Gose may have some potential down the road, his 22.0% strikeout rate down in the minors isn’t looking too appealing.  For now, Farrell will have to go with Davis and that should benefit fantasy owners for atleast a few weeks.  He won’t dazzle you with a killer batting average and consider yourself lucky if you get any kind of pop out of his bat, but what you will get is a slew of stolen bases and that’s going to have significant value.


Quintin Berry, DET  |OF|  Ownership:  ESPN – 2.2%  Yahoo – 2.0%

When Tigers beat reporter Jason Beck of MLB.com reported that, according to Jim Leyland, “Austin Jackson’s return is not going to be as soon as we hoped,” Berry’s value took a few more steps forward.  Jackson was originally supposed to be activated from the disabled list on Friday, but reports out of Detroit now say that he isn’t ready for baseball activities yet and won’t even be evaluated until this weekend when the Tigers return from their road trip.

As far as quick-fixes go, Berry has certainly been a strong asset for the Tigers, atop their lineup.  Thanks to a 10.3% walk rate and a robust .529 BABIP, Berry is currently batting .360 with three stolen bases through his first six games.  Obviously the sample size is tiny, but you’re just looking for a band-aid here, so if this over-inflated numbers can just last another couple of weeks, you’re golden.  Cheap steals should be available throughout the remainder of the year, so if you can pick someone like Berry up every few weeks and drop them as soon as they cool off, then you’ll have a spot in your lineup that is probably equivalent, if not better than having a Michael Bourn in there.

I know that several FanGraphs/RotoGraphs readers frown on such a tactic, but if you’re just picking up specialists who can grab you a handful of stolen bases each time, then it’s really no different than streaming starting pitchers.  It may be a little more difficult, but it’s still possible.  Berry is a good place to start, as is Davis, so if your place in the standings looks like it can be boosted with an influx of speed and you have a spot in your outfield that isn’t producing all that well, then you really have nothing to lose.

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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site, RotobuzzGuy.com, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com

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Berry’s also been batting leadoff for the Tigers, a nice spot to be, while Davis looks to be hitting 9th more often than not. I worry about Berry’s strikeouts, but his ability to get on base, speed, and big bats behind him should make him pretty valuable in the short term,.