With two months off of our full 162-game schedule, we have to work that much harder to claw and scrape our way in each category throughout the four plus months remaining on the schedule. If you work at it as diligently in May as you do 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 on 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
Jurickson Profar (SD) – 2 SB
Profar made good on his playing time opportunity since returning from the Covid IL, swiping two bases this week (so far). Now at 39% roster across Yahoo!, Profar has probably graduated from future lists, but keep an eye out in your leagues regardless.
Brian Anderson (MIA) – 0 SB
After getting injured on Monday, Anderson hit the IL effective Tuesday and hasn’t been heard from since. Though, his replacement Jon Berti, who is still just 10% rostered across Yahoo! leagues, collected two stolen bases on the week thus far. So I feel as though I should get credit by association on this one. No? Fine.
Man, good thing for Jurickson Profar this week. Looking back though, Michael A. Taylor did end up recording a stolen base on Sunday, after I tallied up my totals from last week so I didn’t get totally blanked like I thought, so that shows there’s still a chance for this group.
One other thing to consider here is that these matchups are always subject to change, as most things are, 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:
Jon Berti, Miami Marlins
With both Brian Anderson and Miguel Rojas on the injured list, not even the his .176/.291/.296 slash line can keep Jon Berti out of the Marlins’ line up for the next week or so. Berti has started in each of the past four games for the fish, spending most of his time at the hot corner and even moonlighting in centerfield. Did I mention he even led off on Friday? Berti may have failed to show off much this year that would force him into every day playing time on his own, but the injuries that Miami is currently dealing with will provide Berti the opportunity to do the one thing he does well and that of course is stealing bases. He wasted no time showing that off last week, stealing a base in back-to-back games, bringing his total for the month (and season) to four.
The Marlins currently rank fourth in the league in aggressiveness on the base paths, sending runners 6.25% of the time. Berti’s 98th percentile sprint speed and 4.25 ft/sec home to first speed, which currently ranks 29th in baseball right in line with Tyler O’Neill and Harrsion Bader, should be well taken advantage of by the Marlins. It doesn’t hurt that Miami will be the first MLB visiting team in Buffalo this season as they face off against the Blue Jays for two games, giving them the extra hitter in their line up and all but guaranteeing Berti seeing plenty of playing time there against a Blue Jays team that has struggled to stop baserunners from advancing all season to a tune of just an 18% caught stealing rate. Miami’s next opponent has not looked much better, as Pittsburgh sits at the same 18% caught stealing rate led by Jacob Stallings‘ 17 stolen bases allowed so far this season.
Willie Calhoun, Texas Rangers
Ok, so what if Willie Calhoun has never stolen a base in the majors. There’s got to be a first time for everything I say. Though I’m not extremely confident in this pick, it’s difficult to pass up just based on the fact the Rangers head to Colorado next week and Calhoun continues to be just 12% rostered across Yahoo! leagues, making him a very tempting outfield streamer to use in even shallow formats. Calhoun’s speed is less than desired for a guy you’re looking to gain a leg up in stolen bases, sitting in the 32nd percentile for sprint speed and clocking in at 4.66 ft/sec from home to first, but if the Rangers can squeeze four stolen bases out of Nate Lowe, surely they can get one out of Calhoun. The Rangers are the third most aggressive team in baseball on the base paths, sending their runners 6.37% of the time and their primary backstop opponents in Dom Núñez of Colorado and Mike Zunino of Tampa Bay have given up the third and eleventh most stolen bases this year, respectively. Willie did just leg out his first triple of the season on Thursday, so taking advantage of both his team’s aggressiveness and his upcoming match ups doesn’t rule out the possibility of tacking on his career career stolen base as well.
Nicky Lopez, Kansas City Royals
This pick may have come a week too late with Aldalberto Mondesí returning to the Kansas City infield. It looked as though Nicky Lopez was doing enough to keep him in the Royals line up, perhaps moving over to second base and pushing Whit Merrifield back to the outfield, but in the early goings Lopez has been benched in the first two games Mondesí has been back. If Lopez can indeed get time back in the line up next week he stands to provide some stolen base upside as the Royals continue to run, rankings only behind the Padres in aggressiveness at 7.34% send rate, and face off against the aforementioned Jacob Stallings for a pair of games to start the week.
*Maybin currently has more stolen bases (1) than hits (0) on the season, so stream this one at your own risk.
Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Twitter & IG)