Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market: Rajai Davis a steal, SP ready to shine

by Tim Heaney on April 1, 2014 @ 10:15:31 PDT


Pages 1 | 2 | all's Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market goes deeper than the most popular free-agent adds and tells you who to target with your FAAB and waiver wire bids.

All players are owned in fewer than 50% of leagues polled.

Rajai Davis, OF, Detroit Tigers
Should be sliding onto your team

OF Rajai Davis, Detroit Tigers

Even when he's a part-timer, he runs. Davis averaged nearly 42 swipes per year since 2010, his only season with 500-plus PA. Despite his flat production to date versus RHP, injuries to Andy Dirks (back) and Don Kelly (hamstring) will mean he'll suit up nearly every day to start this year.

As the "double leadoff" man hitting ninth (a nice AL advantage), he'll also find plenty of chances to score now that Ian Kinsler has bolstered the top of this order. Detroit finished last in the league with 35 steals last year. Even if new skipper Brad Ausmus doesn't radically change Detroit's station-to-station play, Davis should continue to offer his best skill.

2B Neil Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates

Walker was a likely entry even before his walk-off homer Monday. In 2013, he endured an off-kilter winter schedule thanks to back problems in 2012, and he endured a lacerated hand and trunk soreness last year.

Middle infielders that don't steal many bags must stand out elsewhere, and Walker hasn't yet. Fortunately, his BA peripherals boast .300 potential, especially if he performs successful tweaks to his approach from the right side. At least his platoon split favors the majority half.

He'll occupy the middle of a solid order that should aid his counting stats, and his gradual improvement in home runs should take another step this year with health.

OF Aaron Hicks, Minnesota Twins

You could tell the switch-hitter needed more time at Triple-A Rochester last year, even though he broke camp as the starting 8. He was hitting .179 before a June hammy strain and sent back down in August.

Once a highly regarded prospect, the 24-year-old came into camp with a stronger build and hit .327 in 52 AB. He'll get a do-over in center field as the chief occupant before Byron Buxton arrives sometime in the next two years.

Hicks' 2-for-3 contest versus Chris Sale on Monday already matched the amount of hits in his first 49 AB last year. With more comfort in his second big-league go-around, Hicks could swipe 20 bags in a full season and perhaps approach double-digit homers. Recapturing his farm history of high walk rates could push him to leadoff and break the cupid's arrow that is blinding Ron Gardenhire in his devotion to Brian Dozier and Kurt Suzuki.

Taylor Jordan, SP, Washington Nationals
Jordan ready to fly

SP Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan, Washington Nationals

Doug Fister's lat strain gives these competitors for the fifth spot an extended trial. He may miss a month-plus of action, so they'll have plenty of time to build on their successful 2013 debuts.

If Washington had to decide between the two today, they'd probably go with the zone-pounding Roark, 27. Jordan, 25, who hasn't pitched in Triple-A yet. Though Roark pitched above his head last year, he's capable of having a stellar month or two and a fine mixed back-end season because he doesn't waste pitches.

But if you're playing the upside game, go with Jordan. His MLB opponents posted a 10.2 swinging-strike percentage, which belies his weak 5.05 K/9 and 13.2 K% from that stretch. His excellent spring command (20 K, 2 BB in 20 2/3 IP), more prominent GB history, and almost two-year-old recovery from Tommy John surgery mean a Jordan Zimmermann-like breakthrough is looming.

SP Robbie Erlin, San Diego Padres

Josh Johnson's latest injury (a forearm strain) opened up the No. 5 spot for the former Texas Rangers draftee. We've been talking about Erlin for some time, so it's easy to forget he's just 23. The southpaw's mediocre first 11 MLB games last year masked his fine control. He won't strike out the world but holds his own, and the fact he's not an elite grounder inducer doesn't hurt him as much in this environment.

While SD's quintet proved to be a shuttle in 2013, Erlin's development advantage over the other pipeline members gives him a reasonably long leash, especially for the earlier months. Johnson is known for long absences, and walk-suppressing starters that call PETCO Park home often go a long way.

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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