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Rotoworld
suggested that Brett Garnder, who has been leading off recently in spring training games for the New York Yankees, could start the season off in that slot. Gardner, who scored 97 runs in 569 plate appearances could challenge for the league lead in runs scored if he is hitting out of that slot. For starter, he sports a solid .383 on-base percentage. With his ability to get on base, along with his excellent base stealing ability, in the powerful Yankees lineup, 100+ runs seems like a certainty.
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Furthermore, Gardner hit .344 with nobody on and nobody out. He hit .295 with the bases empty and just .255 with runners on. Brett lead off in 25 games last year, batting .290 with a .412 OBP.  Jeter stuggled hitting second last year (.157 average), but has spent the bulk of his career hitting second. The similarity of his numbers leading off and hitting second is staggering. Leading off Jeter is hitting .313 with a .385  OBP, .454 slugging percentage, and a .839 OPS. Out of the two-hole he’s hitting .314 with a .384 OBP, a .456 slugging percentage, and a .840 OPS.
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Gardner spent the bulk of his ABs in the eighth and ninth slots. If he were to lead off he would see an increase in plate appearances, which would have a positive effect on his counting numbers. He would certainly be a great value with his current ADP of 180. Garnder is batting .270 this spring with four stolen bases.
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The  Toronto Blue Jays are considering using speedster Rajai Davis at the top of their lineup as well. Davis stole 50 bases in 561 plate appearances last year. Like Gardner, Davis excelled with the bases empty hitting .302. Davis hit .291 leading off and .277 in the other spots in the batting order. If he leads off for the Blue Jays, Davis will be an extreme fantasy value according to his 237 ADP.
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When you are getting ready for your fantasy baseball drafts keep in mind that we could be experiencing a stolen base renaissance with Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, and Rajai Davis all looking to steal 60+ bases.


By Eric Stashin, Rotoprofessor.com
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There are only four players who have stolen 90 bases or more over the past four seasons:
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  1. Michael Bourn – 113
  2. Carl Crawford – 106
  3. Juan Pierre – 98
  4. Rajai Davis – 91

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It almost feels like Davis doesn’t belong, doesn’t it?  Hidden away out in Oakland, Davis has quietly become one of the elite stolen base threats in the league.  Now he moves across the country to the bright lights of the AL East as he will fill a spot in the Blue Jays outfield and hit atop their order.
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With his speed we all know that he is going to be fantasy relevant, but how highly regarded should he be?  Let’s take a look, starting with his 2010 campaign:
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525 At Bats
.284 Batting Average (149 Hits)
5 Home Runs
52 RBI
66 Runs
50 Stolen Bases
.320 On Base Percentage
.377 Slugging Percentage
.322 Batting Average on Balls in Play
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Right off the bat you can tell that Davis doesn’t have the typical skillset of a leadoff hitter.  A .320 OBP?  It certainly doesn’t come due to his average, which is buoyed by a solid BABIP given his speed.  In fact, there is room for improvement there.  In 2009 over 390 at bats Davis hit .305 thanks to a .361 BABIP.
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He makes great contact, with a career 16.4% strikeout rate.  In 2010 he actually improved upon that with a 14.9% mark in his first season with more than 400 AB.  Certainly there’s a lot to like given the way he handles the bat.
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The clear problem is his ability to draw a walk.  Over his career he has just a 5.9% walk rate and he was at 4.6% last season.  This is clearly the reason why Coco Crisp, when healthy, was given the opportunity to hit atop the lineup.  A leadoff man needs to know how to get himself on base and it is questionable if Davis has that ability or not.
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You would think that, with his speed, hitting atop a Blue Jays lineup with a lot of firepower behind him should allow him to approach 100 runs scored.  However, does anyone actually believe he can do that?  At this point I certainly am not sure.  If he had shown any type of consistent ability to draw a walk and play to a higher OBP things would be completely different.  Unfortunately, given what he’s shown us thus far that is far from a given.
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Over his minor league career (2,420 AB) he did post a 9.23% walk rate.  However, at Triple-A (596 AB) he was at 7.45%.  Unless he improves in this regard (or gets lucky in his BABIP) he is not likely to be an elite source of runs scored.
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Clearly, he has no power and little RBI ability, so he needs to be able to score runs in order to be a viable option in shallower formats.  He clearly has the speed and that is going to make him usable in five-outfielder formats regardless of what else he does.  However, unless he shows early that he is going to be a run machine, he is going to be a reserve, at best, for those in shallower formats.
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What are your thoughts on Davis?  Is he a player that you would target as a source of speed?  Why or why not?
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**** Make sure to order your copy of the Rotoprofessor 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, selling for just $5, by clicking here. ****
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Also, make sure to check out the Rotoprofessor’s 2011 projections and rankings.


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