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May 26, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Tommy Edman (19) celebrates while heading to home plate after hitting a solo home run against the Chicago White Sox during the eight inning at Guaranteed Rate Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
The arrow is pointing up for St. Louis leadoff man Tommy Edman. (Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports)

Tommy Edman was one of the trickier calls entering 2021. Do we believe the 92-game breakout from two years back, or recoil after a disappointing year last season? The answer, like so many things, was in the middle, and that’s made him a fantasy profit.

Edman conked two homers in Wednesday’s win at Chicago. Power isn’t Edman’s game — he has a mere .365 slugging percentage — but we’ll take the four homers. More importantly, Edman is a plus contributor in three other categories — .275 average, 23 runs, nine steals (in 10 attempts). He never got the running game going last season, but if you fold 2019 into 2021, we’re looking at someone with 24 steals in 26 attempts.

If you pop the hood and examine Edman’s Statcast page, you’ll find good and bad stuff. He’s elite making contact and his spring speed is in the Top 10 percent of the league. His .275 average is almost identical to his expected average. But hard contact isn’t Edman’s game — he lags in all the metrics tied to that stuff (barrels, hard-hit rate, exit velocity). This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, considering this is a speedster who makes his living through constant contact and his legs. And it’s not like Edman is a zero in the power column.

The Cardinals have Edman parked at the top of their lineup, but fantasy managers can play Edman all over — second, short, third, outfield. Given how prevalent injuries are in today’s game, this type of versatility is especially handy. Edman currently slots No. 80 in current 5×5 value, and if I were walking into a redraft today, I’d have no problem selecting him around that value.

Orioles bullpen could be in flux 

If you’re doing some save-chasing, Baltimore looks like a logical place to speculate. Cesar Valdez has eight saves, but he’s been living a charmed life, pushing the radar gun into the mid-80s. Valdez has an ordinary strikeout rate and a 3.93 ERA, and manager Brandon Hyde says his bullpen could be a “mixed bag” going forward. Valdez was a mess in his last save opportunity, Monday’s loss at Minnesota.

Paul Fry becomes the add of interest. Fry occasionally struggles with control, but he’s whiffed 26 batters in 18 innings and has tidy ratios (2.50 ERA, 1.06 WHIP). The league is hitting just .177 off Fry, and he offers a juicy ground-ball rate in addition to the swing-and-miss stuff.

If you’re in a tire-kicking mood, Fry is free to add in 96 percent of Yahoo leagues.

San Diego bullpen a bagel parade

The Padres bullpen continues to be a cheat code. Mark Melancon has 17 saves, running away from everyone else. His ratios are too good to be true, with an ERA and WHIP under 1. Austin Adams has a zesty strikeout rate and is Behrens-approved. Emilio Pagan has been a fantasy staple for years.

Perhaps Craig Stammen gets lost in the shuffle. He’s not the closer here. He’s not the guy with the highest strikeout rate. He doesn’t have Pagan’s resume. But he’s toting a 1.88 ERA and 0.84 WHIP through the opening quarter, with three wins and a save. His walk rate is outstanding, and he’s also striking out a career-best 32.4 percent of batters.

Although Stammen posts a modest low-90s on the radar gun, he’s getting terrific mileage from his cut fastball. And his curve has turned into an outstanding putaway pitch.

When we assemble our fantasy offenses, we try to keep it simple. Go to where the runs are, go to where the ballparks encourage offense. The pitching approach isn’t that different. Get arms tied to winning teams, friendly parks. Bet on the infrastructure.

Stammen figures to be an occasional win source, with an odd save here and there. The Padres offer all the buoyancy you want. He’s not an ideal fit in every format, but I see a case to push his roster tag past 12 percent.