With two plus 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 June 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 fared.
Last Week’s Results
Jon Berti (MIA) – 0 SB
Berti hasn’t been playing every day with the addition of Isan Diaz to the mix at the hot corner, which is unfortunate. There’s still time for Berti is tack on a stolen base as the Marlins finish off their weekend series in Pittsburgh, even if it comes in the form of a pinch runner.
Willie Calhoun (TEX) – 0 SB
Ok, so Calhoun didn’t get his first career stolen base (yet!) this week, but at least he hasn’t hurt you as he’s gone four for twelve on the week so far with three runs scored and a pair of RBI.
Nicky Lopez (KC) – 0 SB
Lopez got a bit more playing time than the week prior, but not enough to put himself in a position to collect any stolen bases unfortunately. Unless he starts seeing more regular starts he can be ignored moving forward.
Eric Sogard (CHC) and Cameron Maybin (NYM) – 0 SB combined
Cameron Maybin was sent to AAA late in the week and didn’t play a lick, even with the Mets’ depleted outfield. I did say that was a risky play.
As a general rule as well, keep an eye out for players on teams that simply like to run. Individual speed is great and all, but if a speedster is stuck on a team that rarely takes advantage of their speed then it’s not worth hanging your hat on their sprint speed. Here’s a list of the top ten aggressive teams during the 2021 season thus far.
Note: Stolen Base Opportunities here is defined by Baseball Reference as a “plate appearances through which a runner was on first or second with the next base open.”
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:
Yonathan Daza, Colorado Rockies
I know it feels wrong to advise a pick up of Colorado hitters going into a week where the Rockies play their entire schedule on the road, but Yonathan Daza is forcing the issue with his recent play and deserves your attention. In his last 74 plate appearances, Daza has recorded a slash line of .385/.452/.462.
He’s not taking advantage of the thin air in Colorado as much as he is the vast outfield, spreading the ball across the field and finding ways to get on base, assisted by his 10.8% walk rate in that span. So far he’s collected just two stolen bases in 77 opportunities (a little less than half of the team’s overall aggressiveness rate), but with his ability to get on base and speed (77th percentile in sprint speed, 4.34 ft/sec home to first time), Daza should be able to take advantage of opportunities presented, especially when the Rockies travel to Miami and Cincinnati, who currently sit with just a 21% and 20% caught stealing rate respectively.
The added benefit of Daza is the simple fact that if he keeps hitting the way he is he won’t hurt you in other areas even if he doesn’t manage to add to your steal totals.
Niko Goodrum will continue to make this list from time to time as long as he’s continued to be undervalued, as he’s currently sitting at the 18% roster mark across the Yahoo! format. The multi-positional eligible Tiger continues to take opportunities as they arise, now sitting at 10 stolen bases on the year, just two away from his career-high of 12 set during the 2018 and 2019 seasons, with four more months to go.
Based on the rate in which Detroit is sending runners, combined with Goodrum’s overall ability as the team’s leading base stealer this year, it’s a good bet Goodrum can take advantage of his upcoming match up, especially if he can get on base against Luis Torrens when the Tigers host the Mariners early in the week. Torrens currently sits with just a 10% caught stealing rate, successfully thwarting just two attempts on the season while allowing 19 runners to advance.
Bradley Zimmer, Cleveland
I actually like Bradley Zimmer’s teammate Harold Ramirez a little bit better as an all-around pick up this week, but fear the cleanup spot in the order for Ramirez may provide slightly less opportunities than Zimmer’s spot at the back end of the Cleveland lineup.
Zimmer has shown his speed in the past while finishing 2020 in the 86th percentile for sprint speed and knocking out three stolen bases since being brought back to Cleveland on May 27. Assuming the Cleveland outfield situation doesn’t improve throughout the week, Zimmer looks to get the majority of play in centerfield and even when he doesn’t start he’s been one of the first options off the bench to pinch hit.
Through 75 plate appearances in AAA this season Zimmer recorded a .413 OBP fueled by a 13.3% walk rate, after posting a .360 OBP with a 14% walk rate in the majors through the 2020 season. If he can keep that up he should see plenty of opportunities this week, even with just a five-game slate.
Willi Castro (DET) vs Luis Torrens (C, SEA)
Harold Ramirez (CLE) vs Luis Torrens (C, SEA)
Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Twitter & IG)
Torrens has been in AAA for weeks.