Stealing the Stolen Base Blueprint

Mark McElroy covers all of Wednesday's most interesting hitters.

It’s easy to forget about the Padres. Their games start after most people are already in bed, so boxscore reviews over breakfast are, more than likely, how most follow the action.

The Padres have not been shy on the base paths. They ran wild in Arizona in their opening series and provided a blueprint for other teams to exploit the Diamondbacks’ catchers. The D-Backs have already allowed twelve stolen bases in 2020 with just one caught, with Carson Kelly responsible for nine swipes-allowed and Stephen Vogt the other three (Vogt threw out the lone attempted base thief, Edward Olivares).

In that first series, Tommy Pham picked up four stolen bases with Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, and Jurickson Profar each nabbing one. In their first two games against the Giants, Padres baserunners were quiet, but last night, Wil Myers stole second to bring their team total on the season to eight. It’s too early to tell if the Padres, as an organization, have decided to be more aggressive on the bases or if they were simply opportunistic in their first series in Arizona.

So what it actionable here? With stolen bases as this season’s most rare counting stat (along with saves), it makes sense to look at the team with the most swipes on the season. Watch, in the coming series, to see if San Diego continues to be aggressive on the bases.

Most importantly, fantasy owners need to learn from the Padres’ game plan and target players who are facing Arizona.

The Texas Rangers have learned, as steal-coveting fantasy managers should, from the Padres’ example. After missing a few days with a hamstring issue, Isiah Kiner-Falefa stole two bases. Nick Solak also took advantage, stealing two bases of his own. It seems that teams are going to target Kelly’s arm and until he shows that he can throw runners out, look to start your speedy guys against him. Also, consider streaming base-stealing hitters into your lineup when they face the Diamondbacks. The Dodgers begin a four-game set today, with the Astros visiting next week, and San Diego, again, next weekend.

It’s unfortunate that we have to exploit the Diamondbacks’ catchers to nab a few stolen bases for our fantasy leagues, but we must take the opportunity that is presented in such a rare statistical category. Fast-forward to the end of September and a shortened fantasy season could be won or lost on a single stolen base. Adapting to what we have seen so clearly in the first week could be the difference.

 

Nick Castellanos (OF, Cinncinati Reds) – 2-for-3, HR, 4 RBI, 2 R, BB. The Reds responded well to the return of Mike Moustakas and Nick Senzel from the COVID IL by drubbing the Cubs. Casty smoked a grand slam against his former team, with Moustakas and Senzel each smacking a home run of their own. Fantasy owners expect big things from Castellanos this season and the Reds’ lineup looks like a powerful one early on this season. Expect a lot of nights like this from him this year.

Freddie Freeman (1B, Atlanta Braves) – 4-for-5, HR, R, 3 RBI. It really is incredible how a hitter can look so bad one night and so good the next. With last night’s stat line, it’s hard to believe that Freeman went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts on Tuesday. I guess when you get a ballpark built to your skillset, it isn’t that surprising that Freeman had a big game in the team’s return to Atlanta.

Mike Yastrzemski (OF, San Francisco Giants) – 3-for-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. The Giants rallied back to tie the game in the eighth and Yastrzemski put a Matt Strahm fastball into McCovey Cove to walk off the Padres. Two solo shots in the game were his first two bombs of the season and helped to bring his slash line to .409/.500/.773. As the leadoff hitter with regular playing time, managers need to check their free-agent pool to see if he is still available and add him quickly.

Todd Frazier (1B, Texas Rangers) – 3-for-4, HR, 2 2B, 2 R, RBI. The veteran hit his first home run as a Ranger last night on a line drive to left field. Frazier also tacked-on two doubles boosting his OPS to .989 in the first week. Hitting in the heart of the lineup should help bolster his stats, but expect a low batting average and some missed time.

Jake Lamb (1B, Arizona Diamondbacks) – 0-for-4, 4 K, 3 LOB. We don’t usually flag poor performances in the Batter’s Box, but Lamb has been struggling. With just one hit (a double) in 15 plate appearances and four strikeouts in yesterday’s game, bringing his total to eight, one has to think that the team will consider other options at 1B/DH. This might be Kevin Cron’s opportunity for more plate appearances.

Trent Grisham (OF, San Diego Padres) – 2-for-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB. Grisham hit his second home run of the season and has made the most of his new opportunity in San Diego after an off-season trade from Milwaukee. He started the first two games of the season ninth in the batting order but has hit second in the most recent five games. If he can continue his strong start, he should be a benefit to fantasy managers gathering both runs and RBI hitting behind Tatis and ahead of Machado and Pham.

Maikel Franco (3B, Kansas City Royals) – 3-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI.  Is this just the typical early-season success that Franco tempts us with every season? Off to a blistering .348/.333/.739 slash to start 2020, Franco has two home runs, two doubles, and seven RBI in 24 plate appearances. Before we get too excited, he also has zero walks to six strikeouts and a .375 BABIP. The change of scenery seems to have have been good for him, at least in his first six games. Keep an eye on Franco in the next little while, as his playing time should be regular and, if he keeps it up, he could be a sneaky fantasy contributor.

JaCoby Jones (OF, Detroit Tigers) – 3-for-3, HR, 2 R, RBI, 2 2B. It’s nice to include a Tiger in the Batter’s Box! Jones took an Ian Kennedy 3-2 fastball the opposite way for a solo home run to break a 4-4 tie. It wasn’t a mammoth shot, just knocking off a seat in the first row, but it was enough for Detroit to secure the win. Earlier in the game, Jones hit a pair of doubles and scored a run. Not bad for the number nine hitter!

DJ LeMahieu (2B, New York Yankees) – 4-for-5, HR, 2 R, 2, RBI. The Yankees must have been ecstatic to get a chance to face Baltimore (especially at Camden Yards) after the Phillies and Marlins were quarantined. LeMahieu picked up where the Yankees left off in 2019 with a leadoff home run to start the game. In typical DJLM fashion, he poked the ball out to right-field and tucked it just inside the foul pole to open the scoring.

Aaron Judge (OF, New York Yankees) – 2-for-3, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, HBP. It looked like a no-doubter off the bat, but Judge’s first home run of the season landed in the empty fourth row of Camden’s left-center field gap. While not his most beautiful, Judge will take the home run and be thankful that the altered schedule took the Yankees to Baltimore.

J.P. Crawford (SS, Seattle Mariners) – 2-for-3, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB. Crawford boosted his average ratios to .368/.538/.632 and picked up his first two RBI of the year. Starting players are incredibly valuable in fantasy this season and Crawford should play often, especially when he hits as well as this. He also may be available in even the deepest fantasy leagues.

Shohei Ohtani (DH, Los Angeles Angels) – 1-for-5, HR, R, 3 RBI. It isn’t the most glamourous stat line from Wednesday, but after a disastrous start to the season on the mound and at the plate, Ohtani needed something positive. He golfed a three-run home run into the right-field seats yesterday. With luck, it will be the catalyst for improvement in his .167/.167/.389 slash.

Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire

Mark McElroy

When I am not watching baseball or writing about fantasy baseball, I can usually be found cycling in and around Victoria, BC. I contribute at Pitcher List and Creative Sports and can be found on Twitter @markmcelroybb.

  • Avatar RJ says:

    I like exploiting the Zona C and thought of Dyson reading above. But PIT is not playing ARI next weekend. Padres are again and they are again the following weekend….More Pham steals coming!

    Unless of course MLB changes the schedule

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