The Detroit Tigers just got a little bit more interesting from a fantasy baseball standpoint. Andy Dirks had been slated all offseason to be the Tigers’ starting left fielder, and to be as blunt as possible, unless you are competing in a very deep league, there was virtually no reason to consider him fantasy relevant. However, with the news coming out today that he will miss the next three months to recover from back surgery, the Tigers’ left field position just got a whole lot more interesting.
The word coming from Detroit is that speedster Rajai Davis is expected to assume the starting spot in left field and the extra playing time gives his fantasy value a very substantial bump. Prior to Dirks’ injury, I had Davis sitting just outside my overall top 300. With the extra 100 or so plate appearances he should see now that he’s going to enter the season as a full time player, he has shot all the way up to 221. Due to circumstance, Davis has gone from a guy you should consider taking a late round flyer on if you need some speed, to somebody who should be drafted in all leagues.
In 2013, Davis stole 45 bases in just 360 plate appearances and he has stolen at least 34 bases in each of the last five seasons (in four of those he stole more than 40 bases). For his career, Davis has stolen 268 bases, and even more impressively, he’s only been caught 68 times — giving him a success rate of 79.8 percent. Davis is an elite base stealer and he’s now found himself in a full time gig.
Now that Davis is expected to start, I have projected him to score 66 runs, knock in 40 RBI, seven home runs and steal 53 bases (which is the third highest projected total, behind Billy Hamilton and Everth Cabrera) to go with a .257 batting average.
If you need a boost in stolen bases in the middle of your draft, Davis is the guy you should be targeting.