The Roto Grotto: hitter stashes for 2014

It’s the mid-point of August. By now, you probably have a pretty good idea whether or not you’re in the mix for a fantasy title this season. For dynasty owners who are out of the race, it’s time to start thinking about next season. Even if you’ve passed your trade deadline or already made trades to acquire prospects, you can likely still improve your team from the waiver wire.

Everth Cabrera | 34 percent Yahoo ownership

Depending on your league setup, Everth Cabrera can be a difficult player for a contender to hang onto. Cabrera is suspended for the rest of this season, which makes him both unavailable and ineligible for the DL. Owners with a shallow bench may well have dropped him, even in dynasty formats.

Despite only 95 games played, Cabrera is still second in baseball with 37 stolen bases. He also sports a solid .283 batting average and .355 on-base percentage, both of which he should maintain because of his speed and 9.4 percent walk rate. His biggest handicap in roto formats is his low 54 runs scored, which I expect will improve next season. Currently, Chase Headley has a .294 wOBA with men on base, well below his .348 career mark. If he returns to the Padres, Headley will likely bounce back in situations with Cabrera on base. If Headley leaves, the Padres will likely replace his bat with someone with better fortune in those situations.

Ike Davis | 30 percent Yahoo ownership

It has been a forgettable season for Ike Davis, but since his early-July recall from AAA, he has been productive. As of Sunday, Davis’ 172 wRC+ was third-highest of first basemen over the previous month and 25 points higher than the fourth-place first baseman. The power and run production numbers have not returned, but Davis has nine doubles in those 25 games and, more importantly, 20 walks against only 18 strikeouts. Davis has never shown that kind of plate discipline over an extended period, but he is worth acquiring now before some of those doubles start clearing the fence and someone else does.

Josh Rutledge | 17 percent Yahoo ownership

I continue to be pessimistic on Josh Rutledge because of his defense. With -11 Defensive Runs Saved in 483 innings at shortstop in 2012 and -9 Defensive Runs Saved in 395.2 innings at second base in 2013, I’m skeptical that he’ll stick in the middle infield in the majors. However, if Rutledge is available in your dynasty league, he is worth a speculative add, if only as a potential trade chip.

While Rutledge experienced a decline in his triple slash from .274/.306/.469 in 2012 to .211/.271/.313 this season, much of that was the result of a .246 BABIP. Meanwhile, Rutledge actually improved his walk rate from 3.1 percent to 6.8 percent, and he continued to show both power and speed. Over a full season, he could threaten 20-20. Rutledge is hitting .330 in AAA this season and will likely return to the Rockies later this season. I suggest you add him now and then look to flip him as your league rules allow.

Jonathan Villar | 8 percent Yahoo ownership

Jonathan Villar never showed gaudy stolen base numbers in the minors, but he did steal 70 bases in 763 plate appearances across two levels from 2012-2013. He already has 10 steals this season in just 65 plate appearances. From a fantasy perspective, Villar reminds me of Dan Uggla. His high walk rate and speed can make him elite in two categories—runs and steals, in Villar’s case—but his high strikeout rate will bring down his average. His current .245 average is mediocre and yet is propped up by a .406 BABIP. Coupled with questionable defense, Villar is not a lock to keep his job in the majors, but if he can, he will be a valuable middle infielder in roto scoring, especially once the Astros become a respectable offensive team in the next year or two.

Matt Adams | 6 percent Yahoo ownership

Matt Adams is currently blocked by the always-exceptional depth of the Cardinals, but with Carlos Beltran a free agent after this season, the team could choose to make him a full-time player in 2014 with a bit of defensive creativity. Who needs defense when everyone in your lineup can hit?

For Adams, 600 plate appearances would probably translate into 25-30 home runs, but his batting average would likely dip if he played every day versus both left-handed and right-handed pitchers. Similar to Mitch Moreland, fantasy owners may be better served to platoon Adams, format-permitting, whether or not the Cardinals choose to do so themselves.

Yasmani Grandal | 1 percent Yahoo ownership

It will be difficult for fantasy owners to wait half a season for Grandal in 2014, having just done so in 2013 with a meager reward of a .216 average and one home run in 28 games before being hurt again. However, in his limited playing time this season, Grandal reminded us why he is worth the wait. Since 2012, Grandal has a .380 on-base percentage, the fourth-highest of catches with at least 300 plate appearances. Over a full season, Grandal has 20-85-85 potential, which is extremely valuable at catcher. If you can afford to stash him in your DL for half of next season, go ahead and pick him up now.

May I Have Your Autograph, Please?
The payoff of being polite.

Matt Davidson | 0 percent Yahoo ownership

To me, Matt Davidson is in the Matt Adams camp of prospects that are much more valuable in fantasy than reality. Despite his 0-for-26 slump to start August, Davidson maintains a .278/.348/.484 triple slash for the season in AAA. Davidson would likely hit 20 home runs in a full season at third base, which is not as common as you’d expect at the position. Josh Donaldson and Kyle Seager would be the sixth and seventh third basemen to reach that plateau this season and are the last two players on pace for that distinction.

The two obstacles for Davidson are his strikeout rate and the Diamondbacks’ depth. For the former, I’m less worried by a strikeout rate in the low-to-mid 20 percent range because Davidson walks about 10 percent of the time, as well. For the latter, the Martin Prado extension may block Davidson—although Prado’s super-utility defensive skillset makes it possible to get Davidson in the line up—so he may need an injury or trade to find everyday at-bats next season.

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