Welcome back. It feels good to start scouring the wire for stolen base possibilities again. The 2020 season was a different beast on many fronts and made making up ground in various counting categories even more attainable than ever with the shortened season.
Now, with a 162-game schedule before us, we have to work that much harder to claw and scrape our way in each category throughout the six-month schedule. If you work at it as diligently in April as you may in September you can put yourself in a good spot to not sweat the final few weeks.
Throughout draft season you hear it from every angle: “you have to prioritize stolen bases early.” Easier said than done though right? I’m here to tell you there’s still hope. You either have too much speed or not enough. This series will be focused on the latter.
If there’s a category to make up ground in, it’ll typically be stolen bases. Each week I’ll be providing a couple of options that may be sitting on your wire that have a good shot at getting you at least one more bag. I’m going for the deep cuts and focusing only on players owned in less than 20% of leagues, per Yahoo!, which typically focus on leagues with 12 teams.
This list will change week to week, but you’ll continue to see a general theme. The picks will be focused not just on the speedsters that are generally undrafted, but mostly on sneaky pickups that can take advantage of their matchups, may it be with an offense-first catcher or a starting pitcher with a history of focusing solely at what’s in front of them and ignoring the baserunners. Before we move on to this week’s recommendations, let’s see how last week’s speedsters faired.
Last Week’s Results
Manuel Margot (TB) – 0 SB
Margot hasn’t been hitting as close to the top of the lineup as Spring Training would have led us to believe he might, cracking the top two spots just once in his 5 starts so far. Margot has the speed to steal when given the opportunity, it would just be nice to see him get more of said opportunities by plugging him in the two spot. Margot is now 23% rostered across Yahoo! leagues, so he won’t be making this list until he cools off enough to see fantasy managers start to jump ship.
Cedric Mullins (BAL) – 1 SB
Now there’s a lead-off hitter. Mullins has run with the job in Baltimore, starting and leading off for the Orioles in every game thus far. He’s also earning his keep, recording a hit in every game and tacking on his first stolen bag of the season against the Yankees on Tuesday. Thanks to his hot start and every day playing time, Mullins is now 28% rostered across Yahoo! and shouldn’t make this list again anytime soon.
Kyle Isbel (KC) – 0 SB
Well, if you acted fast after reading my article last Saturday you may have benefitted from Isbel’s first stolen base on Sunday, but alas he hasn’t added to that bag during the week. To be fair, I did say I was worried about his matchups this week but expect him to run a bit more against Max Stassi and Kurt Suzuki when the Royals host the Angels early this coming week. Isbel is still just 7% rostered across Yahoo! and should be considered for next week’s matchups, especially as he’s also completely entrenched as the [just about] everyday right fielder in Kansas City.
Andrelton Simmons (SS, MIN), Roman Quinn (OF, PHI), Adam Eaton (OF, CWS), Billy Hamilton (OF, CWS) – 4 SB combined
Quinn carried the bunch with 2 SB on Wednesday, and he didn’t even start in the game. Eaton and Hamilton both added a bag of their own, while Simmons failed to take advantage of his matchup with Wilson Ramos.
One other thing to consider here is that these matchups are always subject to change, as most things are, and most of these suggestions are best served in a league with daily moves. Weekly adds can still be considered in a pretty deep league, but know that this is only focused on the possibility of stealing bases, even at the expense of other categories. So, after that disclaimer, let’s see who’s poised to run over the next week who may be available in your league:
I had a whole blurb typed out recommending Rougned Odor here, with the expectations he might see extra playing time with Gio Urshella being placed on the Covid-19 IL.
As that seemed to be just a precautionary move, and Urshella may be back in the Yankee line up at early as Saturday, combined with the utter distaste in my mouth from the idea I was going to recommend you pick up Odor in anything outside a WorstBall league, I decided to just move Odor to the honorable mentions section as the Yankees do have some pretty nice matchups this week if the early going stats are any indication of teams to stream against for stolen base opportunities. Toronto and Tampa lead the league in the early goings with a combined 15 stolen bases allowed on 15 attempts. So there’s that.
Instead, let’s go with Miguel Rojas of the Marlins. Rojas has started all but 1 game for the Marlins thus far, even leading off in the two matchups where they faced a left-handed starter.
The Marlins may only face one lefty starter when they travel to Atlanta early in the week, but that won’t stop Rojas from playing every day and taking advantage of situations as they are given. The Marlins’ shortstop isn’t the fastest guy on the team – his home plate to first base times place him in the company of Keston Hiura and Gleyber Torres – but he’s shown ability on the base paths and more importantly, the Marlins have shown their intent to run as they stole the 3rd most bases during the recently completed Spring Training, one of which was credited to Rojas.
The Marlins face off against the Braves to start the week and the Giants to end it. Travis d’Arnaud and the Braves allowed the 4th most stolen bases in 2020, and both d’Arnaud and Buster Posey have each allowed two bases stolen through the early 2021 season.
He’s no lock, but Rojas is a rare find that can help you specifically in one category without hurting you elsewhere and while he’s still just rostered in 6% of leagues across Yahoo! he’s readily available to join your team.
Anderson Tejada, Texas Rangers:
Talk about a deep cut. Tejada was just called up to Texas to replace Brock Holt and was immediately slotted into the two-hole of the Rangers’ lineup while manning the hot corner. Though shortstop by trade, when you are called upon to replace Brock Holt you better be able to move around the diamond.
Tejada had success in his small experience in Texas last year, as he stole four bases in 23 games for the Rangers. Texas was another team showing intent to steal more bases as they were successful 26 times, good for second-most across both Spring Training leagues.
It has translated well into the regular season as the Rangers baserunners have successfully stolen seven bases in as many attempts and this was carried over from 2020 when they stole the fourth-most bases in baseball (second in the AL). It doesn’t hurt that Tejada may have opportunities to run against Mike Zunino, who has already allowed a league-leading seven stolen bases in as many attempts by himself.
Kyle Isbel, Kansas City Royals:
Seems easy just to keep the same guy on the list that I recommended last week, but Isbel still fits the bill, if not more so this week. Kansas City hosts the Angels and Blue Jays throughout the week. While I’ve documented the inefficiencies of Max Stassi and Kurt Suzuki during the 2020 season, it’s the Blue Jays’ catching tandem that has combined for seven stolen bases allowed in the early going of 2021.
Danny Jansen (4) and Alejandro Kirk (3) have yet to catch a baserunner in their attempts to steal a base. Last year the tandem combined for 24 stolen bases allowed on 30 attempts, with all 4 caught stealings coming with Jansen behind the plate. Isbel has shown speed through the minors and is on a team that has shown they like to run. Still, he’s just 7% rostered across Yahoo!; Isbel should be available and if he gets going this week you may not want to send him back.
Tyler Wade (2B/SS/OF, NYY) and Rougned Odor (2B, NYY) vs Mike Zunino (C, TB) and Danny Jansen/Alejandro Kirk (C, TOR)
Anderlton Simmons (SS, MIN) vs Max Stassi and Kurt Suzuki (C, LAA)
Elvis Andrus (SS, OAK) vs Carson Kelly (C, ARI)
Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Twitter & IG)