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Trying to find a worthwhile steals guy in an OPS league is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. But who looks for needles in haystacks anymore (sorry Amish readers)? A better comparison would be trying to find a sane prediction out of Matthew Berry’s bold predictions. In all seriousness, Mr. Berry is as talented a writer as I am experienced at being a fantasy baseball league commissioner. Speaking of which, y’all should sign up to be in a Razzball Commenter League and even be a league commissioner, which you could add on your resume (you can even add me as a reference). One more plug: some of the Razzball writers just began a mock draft. You should follow along at #RazzballMock (I’m @votetomjacks if that wasn’t already obvious). It’ll be the bee’s knees. Let’s get the buzz going! Anyway, if you’re wondering how it feels trying to get steals in an OPS league, I suggest you read A Tale of Two SAGNOFs. Essentially, there are very few steals guys that won’t hurt you too much in the OPS category, which makes these players that much more valuable. Did I mention that this article was inspired by a few awesome commenters in last week’s article? Now I did. My fellow Razzballers, here is a batch of 30+ steal players that won’t hurt you (too much) in OPS leagues:

Mike Trout – Well, duh. His value in OPS leagues is even stronger, if that’s possible, because he should have a .900 OPS with a potentially league-leading number of steals. He serves well to introduce a theme of looking for power/speed guys in OPS leagues, since the power they have should keep their OPS above a decent baseline.

Ryan Braun – Now I’m not saying that you need all of your speed guys to hit 40 homers because that would be impossible, unless you’re playing in a one team league. However, having the potential for double digit home runs would be nice.

Desmond Jennings – He’s not an unknown, but he’s a great example of a speedster to target. For once, I completely agree with the Bill James projection of 15 homers, 36 stolen bases, and a .261/.337/.417 line. He may even have slight upside from there across the board.

Jose Reyes – No, he’s not an unknown either, but I wanted to bring him up to illustrate a larger point. At weaker OPS positions, steals guys who can maintain a decent OPS are more valuable. So, even if Reyes “only” posts something similar to his .287/.347/.433 line from last season, his steals are fantastic because the other shortstops that get steals tend to really hurt your OPS.

Jose Altuve – I’ll let you in on a little secret. Or maybe it’s a big secret. James Brown came to me in a dream last night and took me to the Apollo Theater where I became his band leader. When he played “I Feel Good” he started improvising about how Jose Altuve was going to lead his fantasy baseball team to the promised land. So James and I are in agreement about Altuve being a great stolen base guy in OPS leagues, especially considering the weak position. Yes, we’re on a first name basis now.

Norichika Aoki – There’s not much to say about Aoki other than I like him, his numbers from last season seem reasonable, and I expect him to produce nearly the same line as his .288/.355/.433 from 2012.

Brett Gardner – After missing most of last year, I expect him to have a solid 2013. His .730ish OPS and 40+ steals will make you glad you waited on Michael Bourn multiple rounds earlier. In fact, I’d project a .270/.350/.380 line for both of them.

Adam Eaton – I think Eaton could be in for a huge year. See the numbers I projected for Gardner and Bourn? Add 20 points to the OBP and 30 points to the slugging to get Eaton’s projections. He could end up being a steal (see what I did there?).

Carl Crawford – He was one of the first guys that came to mind. Then I winced. Then I stopped watching The Biggest Loser and ate some cake. Do I trust Crawford? Not really. Let’s just say I’d rather trust Lincecum to have a rebound next year than Crawford.

Jacoby Ellsbury – See what I said about Crawford? Now multiply it by two. Now divide by three. I think what I’m trying to say is that I think Ellsbury is two-thirds the risk that Crawford is, factoring in their price. What does that mean? Like Grey, I’d rather have Jennings.

Starling Marte – His batting average and OBP could both hurt you, but his slugging could also make up for it. I’m not entirely comfortable projecting him for more than his .257/.300/.437 line from last season since his strikeouts were high and walks were low.

Alejandro De Aza – I think he’ll be what he was last year, with a few more steals across a full season. His .281/.349/.410 line from 2012 looks reasonable for 2013.

B.J. Upton – I expect some OBP improvement for Upton this year and project a .240/.330/.450 line.

Angel Pagan – I love that his name is an oxymoron. Unlike his manager, who sometimes lacks oxy. I think Pagan will approach a .280/.330/.440 line this year.

Shane Victorino – I’d bet on a rebound for Victorino. Maybe I’m too optimistic, but I believe he’ll reach at least a .270/.340/.430 line in 2013.

Which ones did I miss? Feel free to let me know in the comments…

31 Responses

  1. Jake Stone says:
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    Gomez and Crispies won’t hurt you. Bonifacio actually had a decent OPS 2 years ago, but that might have been due to an inflated BABIP.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Jake Stone: Agreed, Gomez and Crisp should be good if they can come close to last season, although I’m not 100% confident in Gomez repeating. Crisp should be fine, but I don’t trust Bonifacio because, like you said, it looked like that season was the outlier.

  2. Jake Stone says:
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    Maybe Stubbs can rebound to .750 OPS bc he’s ditching the leg kick for a toe tap.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Jake Stone: That would be nice. He’s been free falling the past couple years, so a change seems necessary. Definitely worth keeping an eye on.

  3. Raftman says:
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    I’m loving me some Aoki this year. I just got a feeling…

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Raftman: He feels like one of those players with little downside, which is always a bonus.

  4. TheNewGuy says:
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    Eaton could be better than Bourn this year, did I read that right?

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @TheNewGuy: Yeah, it sounds crazy, but I think it’s a very real possibility. His OBP and slugging could both be higher than Bourn’s. He may not have as many steals as Bourn, but I think he’s a lock for 30.

  5. smokeTNT says:
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    14 Team Dynasty league. I have to drop 2 of these but would like to drop up to 5 (for more draft picks). Any suggestions?

    Brandon Belt Robinson Cano Stephen Drew Chase Headley Jason Heyward Matt Holliday Kelly Johnson Evan Longoria Hunter Pence Jose Reyes Miguel Sano Travis Snider Joey Votto Matt Wieters

    Heath Bell Aroldis Chapman Gerrit Cole Yu Darvish Neftali Feliz Felix Hernandez Ubaldo Jimenez Jon Lester Brett Myers Michael Pineda Rick Porcello James Shields Huston Street

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @smokeTNT: I’d definitely drop Travis Snider, Health Bell, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Brett Myers. The last pick would come down to Rick Porcello or one of the Tommy John recovering Pinieda/Feliz (I’m not sure how their recovery is going).

      • smokeTNT says:
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        @Tom Jacks: Thanks!

  6. SwaggerJackers says:
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    Good to see you following through an put together this post! What are your projections for Altuve and Crawford?

    Thoughts on my mock auction last night?

    C Jonathan Lucroy 1
    1B Paul Goldschmidt 14
    2B Dan Uggla 7
    3B Ryan Zimmerman 17
    SS Elvis Andrus 13
    2B/SS Aaron Hill 12
    1B/3B Ike Davis 12
    OF B.J. Upton 17
    OF Adam Jones 25
    OF Jay Bruce 26
    OF Shin-Soo Choo 16
    OF Brett Gardner 9
    UTIL David Ortiz 9
    P Adam Wainwright 17
    P Madison Bumgarner 18
    P Jordan Zimmermann 13
    P Jason Motte 11
    P Jeff Samardzija 7
    P Huston Street 7
    P Mike Minor 4
    P Marco Estrada 1
    P Glen Perkins 1
    BE Adam Eaton 1
    BE Hyun-Jin Ryu 1
    BE Dillon Gee 1

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @SwaggerJackers: Thanks! I’m optimistic on Altuve and could see a .300/.350/.425 line with low double digit homers and 30+ steals. I am not really sure with Crawford, but think his career .292/.332/.441 line is a good starting point.

      I really like your team. No obvious overpays. Solid hitters all around and a very good mix of consistency, upside, power/speed, etc., with only mild risk. You’ve also got several starters that I’m targeting this year, so I like your pitching too.

  7. IrishPride says:
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    5th overall pick in my 12 team draft (6×6 OPS + QS). Trout is being kept. Assuming MCab + Braun come off the board, what is an ideal target at 5? Because I have 3-10 on my cheat sheet all about the same.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @IrishPride: Good question. I’d say Votto since he’s got a shot to lead the league in OPS.

  8. IrishPride says:
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    Thanks Tom. Grey is saying to wait on 1B since the position is so deep. He’s been advocating McCutchen at #3 and saying Kemp is too much an injury question mark to draft at 5.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @IrishPride: Yeah, I agree that 1B is deep, but when you factor in OPS, there’s a bit of a difference. Most of the first basemen max out at .900 OPS or much less, but Votto could top .950 and may even reach 1.000. That kind of hitter could really help average out the rest of your team in that category. It’s like having a hitter with a .375 batting average on your team.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @IrishPride: That said, I have no problem with McCutch, but prefer Votto when adding in OPS. I’m also likely to wait on Kemp too, since I’d rather not take an injury risk with my first pick.

  9. whofox says:
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    They probably won’t crack your 30 steals criterion but Cespedes and Austin Jackson fit the spirit of the post, I think.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @whofox: Yeah, that’s the one reason I didn’t include them. But they are 20+ steal guys with a very solid OPS.

  10. sn24 says:
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    not really related to this article, but can someone rate my team real quick? i was on the war machine the whole time during the draft, hope i did well. 12 team 6×5 (hits). Ended up dropping Segura for David Murphy because I realized I overdrafted steals.

    1. (9) Carlos González
    (Col – OF)
    2. (16) Evan Longoria
    (TB – 3B)
    3. (33) Adam Jones
    (Bal – OF)
    4. (40) Paul Goldschmidt
    (Ari – 1B)
    5. (57) Ben Zobrist
    (TB – 2B,SS,OF)
    6. (64) Elvis Andrus
    (Tex – SS)
    7. (81) Max Scherzer
    (Det – SP)
    8. (88) Jordan Zimmermann
    (Was – SP)
    9. (105) Austin Jackson
    (Det – OF)
    10. (112) Jeff Samardzija
    (ChC – SP)
    11. (129) Salvador Pérez
    (KC – C)
    12. (136) Ike Davis
    (NYM – 1B)
    13. (153) Josh Rutledge
    (Col – 2B,SS)
    14. (160) Jonathon Niese
    (NYM – SP)
    15. (177) Homer Bailey
    (Cin – SP)
    16. (184) Tom Wilhelmsen
    (Sea – RP)
    17. (201) Casey Janssen
    (Tor – RP)
    18. (208) Brett Gardner
    (NYY – OF)
    19. (225) Todd Frazier
    (Cin – 1B,3B,OF)
    20. (232) Glen Perkins
    (Min – RP)
    21. (249) Hyun-Jin Ryu
    (LAD – SP)
    22. (256) Tommy Milone
    (Oak – SP)
    23. (273) Jason Hammel
    (Bal – SP)
    24. (280) Jean Segura
    (Mil – SS)
    25. (297) Peter Bourjos
    (LAA – OF)

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @sn24: Sorry, I would have responded sooner, but didn’t see it earlier even though I refreshed the page…

      I like your team. You’ve got quite a bit of upside on the hitting side and your hitters should be better than average compared to the other teams. I imagine your pitching might be more middle of the pack, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’d rather you load up on hitting (like you did) than pitching.

      • sn24 says:
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        Yeah in all of my mock drafts I didn’t take a pitcher until round 7 (usually would be Matt Moore but he got taken a few picks before me). Thanks for the response

        • Tom Jacks

          Tom Jacks says:
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          @sn24: No problem. Matt Moore around then is pretty good value.

  11. Omaha Cov says:
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    I don’t see Eaton getting enough playing time to be a real contributor. Outfield is crowded with some decent talent. Maybe they trade another guy but in the meantime, I see him getting maybe 350 abs.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Omaha Cov: Their outfield is definitely crowded, but I think he may be the best CF option and believe he’ll end up starting there. Who knows, though since Arizona randomly sours on players.

  12. Sky

    Sky says:
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    #RazzballMock really has been fun when twitter works…that when just got dumped into the internet outerspace and was never heard from again. But seriously, even with the #snags, it’s been a blast. I feel pretty happy sitting Dread Pirate/Goldy/Starlin/BJ after 4 rounds.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Sky: Yeah it’s definitely been a good time so far. I’ve been checking my computer and phone all day. It’s an entirely different twist when we all have the Razzball rankings in front of us. No Michael Bourn in the first round thanks to espn.

  13. Sideshow says:
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    Fowler says Wies wants him to run a lot more. Constant gree light. What do u think?

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Sideshow: Good point. I didn’t include him because he hasn’t has many steals the past few years, but if he’s being encouraged to run, that could change everything. He has the speed to steal 30 if he was running a lot more.

  14. The Imp says:
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    Ichiro could have an OPS near .750 to .775 in New York and 25 to 30 steals wouldnt be out of the question.

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