You may not even have to pick Rajai Davis to own him, certainly not until the nether regions of your draft but as of Monday afternoon, he is a player you’ll want to have on your radar in case you find yourself desperate for stolen bases. With news that slated platoon partner Andy Dirks is going to miss the next three months, or more, Davis is due for an increase in playing time. He may not play every day, but certainly more than he would have as the platoon partner who hits well against left handed pitchers. Currently going outside the top 300, per FantasyPros ADP, that number is likely to come down over the coming weeks but he’ll still be widely available late in drafts.
As part of our free 2014 fantasy baseball draft guide we discussed the importance of allowing category deficiency to guide your decisions late in drafts. At all stages, you’ve got to have a best player available mindset but on a team that is heavy in power and light on legs the player with the greater likelihood to steal bases is the more suitable target and Davis could be just such a player for owners at the back end of drafts.
Again, with a handful of names that can fill in in Detroit’s outfield he may not see 25 at bats a week but Davis stole 45 bases last year – the third most across the Major Leagues – in just 108 games (360 plate appearances). The Tigers don’t run a great deal mind you, but a player with Davis’ speed generally gets the green light in most situations. Davis offers little in terms of batting average, pop numbers, and even runs scored but he can steal a bag. With two different teams since 2009 he has stolen 216 bases (43 per season), never finishing with fewer than 34.
For owners that simply cannot find players with stolen base potential and more balanced stats across the board in the draft room, Davis becomes a reasonable fall back option. Again, maybe he won’t play every day but a prudent owner will keep an eye on starting lineups, use Davis when appropriate, and perhaps even deal him to a similarly speed deficient owner if it appears that Dirks’ return is imminent and Davis’ playing time will thus be limited.
There is very little about Rajai Davis that is sexy, but there is very little that has kept him from stealing an average of 1.65 bases per week over the last six years regardless of his playing time. The increase in opportunity, at least for a few months, puts him on the radar in redraft leagues. If you need those steals to compete in 10% of your standard leagues scoring, then maybe he is an item of interest after all.