Waiver Wire: Cameron Maybin contributing more than just steals

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Saturday June 17th, 2017

No one should be surprised that Cameron Maybin is among the league leaders in stolen bases. He has always been a nifty thief during his career, even if he hasn’t always received the playing time to take full advantage of his abilities. He swiped 40 bags with the Padres back in 2011, and 26 more the next year, even though he had an ugly .306 OBP. He played just 94 games with the Tigers last year, but still managed to steal 15 bases, placing him among the most dangerous runners in the league when he was on base. All told, entering this season, Maybin had 131 steals in 796 games, good for one every six or so games.

What’s surprising, however, is how little Maybin has needed to play, relative to the rest of the league’s stolen-base leaders, to put himself toward the top of the charts. Maybin has 20 steals to go along with 212 plate appearances this season. The three players with more steals—Dee Gordon, Trea Turner and Billy Hamilton—all have at least 247 plate appearances. On a per-plate-appearance basis, only Hamilton has been a better base stealer than Maybin this season.

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If Maybin were just a one-trick pony, it might be hard to roster him in fantasy leagues, as good as he is at that trick. That’s what makes the fact that he’s so widely available in all fantasy formats hard to understand. The 30-year-old is hitting .262 with a .373 OBP on the year. If you’re in a batting average league, he’s not hurting you in your rate category, and could possibly be lifting it up, depending on the rest of your roster. If you’re in an OBP league, as everyone should be, he’s an asset in your rate category. Maybin’s .373 mark is 32nd in the league.

What’s more, after starting the season at the bottom of the Angels order, Maybin has settled in as the team’s leadoff man. He took over in the top spot in mid-May and hasn’t looked back, hitting .382/.472/.592 in 89 plate appearances in that time. Maybin has scored 22 runs in 19 games as the Angels leadoff man, and while that per-game rate can’t possibly hold, it’s clear he’s going to be a weapon in the run-scoring department as well.

Add it all up, and you’ve got a three-category player in Maybin, one of which where he is an entire fantasy team unto himself. Maybin instantly places his fantasy owners among their league’s best stolen-base teams, and he makes teams better in OBP and runs. He should have been widely owned long ago, but there’s no use wondering why he’s still out there in so many leagues. You’re better off just taking advantage and adding him to your roster now.

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Logan Morrison, 1B, Rays

We’re going to continue beating the drum for Morrison until he gets his due in fantasy leagues. He’s up to 19 homers and 44 RBI on the year, to go along with a .350 OBP and .554 slugging percentage. What more does the guy have to do to convince fantasy owners at large that he has turned into the player we all thought he could become after the strong start to his career with the Marlins in 2011? He should be locked in as a starting fantasy first baseman in all formats.

Steven Souza, OF, Rays

The same goes for Morrison’s teammate Souza, who has been a frequent part of our waiver wire columns this season. He continues to mash, hitting .260/.372/.481 with 12 homers and 40 RBI in 275 plate appearances. He hits in the middle of Tampa Bay’s order every day, meaning big-time OBP guys like Morrison and Corey Dickerson are right in front of him in the lineup. Souza gets more than his fair share of RBI opportunities, and he has been cashing in on them with regularity. He’s an easy starting outfielder in all fantasy formats.

Lewis Brinson, OF, Brewers

The Brewers promoted Brinson, their top prospect, late last week. He has yet to make a major splash, going 2-for-17 in his first 19 plate appearances, but don’t let that sway you from adding him. He was a monster at Triple-A Colorado Springs before getting the call, slashing .312/.397/.503 with six homers, 13 doubles, 25 RBI and seven steals in 204 plate appearances. The Brewers are surprisingly competitive this season, and they didn’t call up Brinson so he could sit on the bench. Rather, they promoted him to help them stay in the race. Their outfield might be crowded, but Brinson is going to play mostly every day. That should be enough to land him on a roster in all fantasy formats.

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Shin-soo Choo, OF, Rangers

The perennially underrated Choo keeps doing his thing, carrying a .380 OBP with nine homers, 37 runs, 30 RBI and six steals into action this weekend. As we’ve said in this space over the last few weeks, Choo is one of the few readily available players who will contribute to all five categories in a standard fantasy league. There’s value in that at all times of year, but you don’t typically find players like that available in the middle of June.

Ian Happ, 2B/OF, Cubs

Happ continues to get plenty of playing time for the Cubs and is hitting for reliable power, two things that should make him attractive to all fantasy owners. He has seven homers and 15 RBI in 109 plate appearances on the year, while starting about three-quarters of the games for which he has been in the majors. Happ typically hits toward the top of the Cubs lineup, and even if Anthony Rizzo isn’t entrenched as the leadoff man, Joe Maddon seems to favor his rookie second-baseman-slash-outfielder in spots beneficial for his fantasy value. Happ may not be locked into the two-hole, but he’s not suddenly going to be the team’s No. 7 or 8 hitter, either.

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Amed Rosario, SS, Mets

Sandy Alderson keeps finding new ways to keep Rosario in the minors, but he’s not going to be able to do that much longer, no matter how hard he tries. The 21-year-old has nothing left to prove at Triple-A Las Vegas, and should be with the Mets sooner rather than later. He’s hitting .337/.378/.498 with seven homers, 15 doubles, 48 RBI and 12 steals in 296 plate appearances. His glove is ready for the majors, as well, meaning he’ll take over as the Mets everyday shortstop once he makes it to the majors. Now is the time to stash someone who could be a real difference maker in all fantasy formats.

Yoan Moncada, 2B/3B, White Sox

Moncada has slowed down of late, with his slash line falling to .285/.387/.449. That should curb neither your, nor the White Sox, appetite for baseball’s top prospect. The only factor keeping his fantasy value low is the team’s resistance to bringing him to the majors. Once he’s in The Show, however, he’s going to be a fantasy asset. If you’re league allows you to stash minor leaguers and you can afford to burn a roster spot, burn it on Moncada.

Cam Bedrosian, RP, Angels

The Angels activated Bedrosian from the DL on Friday after a lengthy stay because of a groin injury. Bud Norris pitched well as the closer in Bedrosian’s absence, and Huston Street is just about set to return, as well, but there’s no doubt as to who’s the best reliever in the team’s bullpen at full strength. Bedrosian should take back over as the primary closer with a few successful outings.

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Tyson Ross, SP, Rangers

Ross made his first start since Opening Day 2016 on Friday, allowing two runs on two hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings against the Mariners. His velocity was down considerably from the last time we saw him on an MLB mound, with his four-seamer sitting in the low-90s and his sinker in the high-80s, but the results were encouraging. He fanned five batters and needed 95 pitches to get through 5 2/3 frames. He can be a backend fantasy starter in all formats.

Carlos Rodon, SP, White Sox

Rodon hasn’t exactly pitched well in seven rehab innings, totaling an 11.57 ERA in that time. He’s going to make at least two more rehab starts before rejoining the White Sox rotation, and it’s safe to assume the team will be open to adjusting that timetable, depending on how he performs. The good news, though, is that Rodon hasn’t reported any issues with his biceps since he took the mound again, so there’s reason to believe that the injury is behind him. He could come along slowly, given that this is essentially spring training for him, but he can be in asset in all fantasy formats once he’s back with the White Sox.

As always, we will keep a list at the bottom of our weekly waiver wire column of relief pitchers who are not closers, but can still be fantasy assets because of their strikeout rate, ERA and WHIP. The relievers are listed in order of fantasy value.

Carl Edwards, RP, Cubs
Hector Neris, RP, Phillies
Archie Bradley, RP, Diamondbacks
Will Harris, RP, Astros
Brad Hand, RP, Marlins
Darren O’Day, RP, Orioles
Adam Ottavino, RP, Rockies
Arodys Vizacaino, RP, Braves
David Phelps, RP, Marlins

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