This article is part of our The Long Game series.
With only a handful of games having been played so far and sample sizes being small, it feels too early to spot potential breakout players with any degree of confidence. I mean, have Elvis Andrus and Manuel Margot really become big-time power hitters? (Given how many shares I have of the Padres center fielder, I really hope the answer in his case is yes). However, there are some trends taking place across the league that I am keeping my eye on, and that could have meaningful fantasy implications for GMs who are able to exploit those trends before the competition.
Here's a quick rundown of a couple of things that appear to be happening just below MLB's surface in 2017:
Den of Thieves
Last season I took a long look at the lack of steals across the league, and through the first handful of games in 2017 there's been no real change. Teams are attempting 0.75 stolen bases a game at a 70.3 percent success rate through the first five percent (or so) of the schedule, numbers in line with the base-stealing environment since 2013. Depending on how competitive you plan on being in the category, that's either good news or bad news – good if you weren't committing resources to accumulating steals, as it means you'll need fewer of them to still score a few points there in roto leagues, but bad if you were as it means prices on the handful of elite basestealers around the league will