This is the last stop on the SAGNOF express for outfielders. You can Part 1 and Part 2 to catch up, or, if you’re like me, you’ve already been distracted by an advertisement for an adult MMROPG on the sidebar. Just a reminder, these are SAGNOF posts (Steals Ain’t Got NO Face) so we won’t be discussing Billy Hamilton or Jacoby Ellsbury, etc. etc. Instead we’ve got three more outfielders who, for all sorts of reasons, should be obtainable at a nice low price and who may even be available on a shallow league’s waiver wire post-draft. Leonys Martin, Adam Eaton, and Peter Bourjos are all players with relatively little MLB experience, but who could also provide sneaky value with their legs in 2014. While none of these guys are going to win you a ring by themselves, they each have some speedy upside that makes them a nice complement to a fantasy outfield.
Leonys Martin – 2013: 36 SB in 508 PA
For the better part of 2013, Martin was the SAGNOF “Darling of Texas”, which is a lesser known country music B-Side. What was remarkable about last year was his consistency. Martin stole 19 bags in the first half and 17 in the second despite a .226 average against lefties which yielded some playing time to Craig Gentry. He’ll be just 26-years-old this March, and whether he hits in the top or bottom third of the Rangers’ lineup, there is no reason to think he won’t be able to put up 35+ steals again in 2014. There are some grumblings that Michael Choice could steal some at-bats against lefties, but I wouldn’t let that phase you as long as Martin is getting the lion’s share of any platoons. While it was only one season, Martin stole bases at a cool 80% clip, which is fantastic especially considering he wasn’t anywhere near that in the minors (61%). He even chipped in eight homers for good measure. I’ve seen him ranked anywhere from 80 to 200+ on some early Top-300 rankings, which is kind of a large difference. Depending on the size and savvy of your league, he’ll either be a nice piece in the late rounds of your draft or a player whose preseason chatter propels him into the “not really a value anymore” territory.
Adam Eaton – 2013: 5 SB in 277 PA
Not a typo. Five steals. Eaton was a preseason sleeper for a lot of folks heading into the 2013 season, but an elbow injury derailed him for the better part of the year. Some new surroundings in Chicago and a (hopefully) healthy elbow could bring back the old Eaton we know and love in 2014. He’s the one that stole 46 bases across three levels in 2012 and did so at a success rate of 76%, which is nothing to sneeze at. Eaton will likely lead-off for the ChiSox, who’ve shown a little more bravado on the base paths over the last two years (13th and 12th in the majors for total steals in 2012 and 2013 respectively). It should be noted that Eaton had a significant setback with his elbow last year just before he was slated to return, so the possibility exists that he could injure it again and miss some time even in 2014. He’s only 25 years old, but that health concern along with some tame stolen base projections will depress his value enough to make him a nice bargain should he remain healthy and atop the White Sox lineup all year long.
Peter Bourjos – 2013: 6 SB in 196 PA
Just look at those crazy stolen base numbers! 6! After Bourjos averaged 28 steals a season in the minor leagues, he hasn’t quite put his good speed into practice in the bigs save for a solid campaign of 22 steals in 2011. One of the best parts of his game is actually his plus defense in center. While we typically don’t get points for defense in fantasy, an above average defender will usually get a longer playing time leash than a below average one. More playing time means more chances for steals. Over the last three years, Bourjos has an UZR rating of +23, which is good for top-5 among all centerfielders in that same period of time. To put it in perspective, Carlos Gomez has an UZR of +42 since 2011, Jacoby Ellsbury is a +29, and I’m -412, just behind Matt Kemp. I think Bourjos has shown the ability to steal bases, but what he hasn’t shown us yet is the ability to stay on the field. Between hamstring issues and a broken wrist, he’s only managed ~150 games over the last two seasons combined. A healthy Bourjos stole 22 bags in 155 games during the 2011 season, and 37 across two levels the year before that, so there’s no reason to think the soon-to-be-27-year-old can’t get his wheels going again in St. Louis with some luck in the health department. A concern is that the Cardinals don’t run much to begin with. Over the last 3 years, only the Tigers have stolen fewer bases than the Cardinals (193). I’d take the wait and see approach, AKA CWM.