The plan for this space this week was to help your fantasy team gain a few precious points or games in the standings with an infusion of speed. Then fantasy’s version of Hercules was exposed as human.
The news of Albert Pujols’ broken wrist pushed aside Buster Posey’s leg as the most devastating injury of the fantasy baseball season. (I wonder if ESPN will lobby for a new rule for players going too hard into first base.) Sure, there are more solid first basemen than catchers in the league, but they aren’t sitting on the fantasy waiver wire because most of those are already sitting in teams’ utility spots.
More importantly, Buster Posey is a nice player. He is not Pujols. A slow-starting Pujols was still the 19th best fantasy player in a typical 5×5 rotisserie league.
So, how do you replace six weeks of one of the greatest players of all time? You don’t.
I will offer a few guys to slide into that first base slot to try to not lose too much ground. But if you have some flexibility and this injury opens up your utility spot I suggest a different strategy. Use this time to stock up on steals.
You simply aren’t going to find Pujols’ power, run producing or batting average. You can try to plug in a mediocre guy and hope that he stays hot, but sometimes radical options can help a little more.
The key is to find the guy that will maximize steals and minimize the damage in the other categories. Here are my guys that are probably on your waiver wire.
(Percentage is based on ownership in Yahoo Sports fantasy leagues)
Jordan Schafer OF Atlanta Braves (6%)
Shafer is a pretty typical stolen base guy with no power and an ugly batting average. The positive here is that batting at the top of the Braves order, he’s scored 14 runs to go with his seven stolen bases in the past two weeks.
Nyjer Morgan OF Milwaukee Brewers (13%)
Morgan has taken away the starting center fielder job from Carlos Gomez, which is good news for everybody (except Gomez I guess). Since coming off the DL, he’s batting .338 with 16 runs scored. He’s only stole two bases so far, but he had 34 last year. He will start running even on the Brewers.
Charlie Blackmon OF Colorado Rockies (21%)
The highly-touted second round pick hasn’t disappointed since his call up, rating as the 58th best player in Yahoo. He has six runs scored, six RBI, five steals and is batting .378 in just 45 at-bats. He isn’t going to keep this up, but Rockies are always fun to play at home.
Jason Bourgeois OF Houston Astros (12%)
The key with Bourgeois is playing time because when he plays, he steals. A lot. He’s struggled at the plate since returning from the DL, but he has 17 steals on just 29 hits on the season. He’s playing a little more now and if he stays in the lineup he can make a dramatic difference in a rotisserie league.
Dee Gordon SS Los Angeles Dodgers (17%)
Gordon is another guy that finds himself at the top of a lineup. In the last two weeks, he’s hitting just under .300 with eight runs scored to go with his four steals.
If you are stuck at first base, here are two guys that could help you.
Ty Wigginton 1B, 2B, 3B, OF Colorado Rockies (25%)
To be completely honest, I would probably only start Wigginton at home because of his vastly different splits. But in the last month, he has five homers, 13 RBI, 16 runs and is batting .287. That’s useful. And Wigginton’s career numbers are a little better than you probably realize.
Garrett Jones 1B, OF Pittsburgh Pirates (10%)
I wouldn’t recommend simply plugging Jones in and leaving him there for Pujols’ entire injury, but he’s always been a streaky hitter capable of hitting the long ball. He’s getting regular time and hot right now. Enjoy it. And then be ready to bail when it ends.
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