Two weeks ago we looked at the speedsters from 2013 and there were more than a few names on the list that were available on the waiver wire at some point. For deeper leagues and daily fantasy players that need to maximize each and every matchup, even the smallest advantages can mean the difference between a win and a loss. That’s why we focused a lot on matchups this past year, and we’ll do it again in 2014. Even the best base stealers get caught once in a while, so it’s good to know as much as we can about who might be doing the catching before deploying our fantasy lineups. There’s a lot that goes into a stolen base, of course, and the battery of pitcher and catcher is a large piece of the puzzle. Pitchers who are good at holding baserunners can be avoided while pitchers who have a tendency to cough up a lot of steals can be exploited. Here’s how some starters fared in 2013 and over the last three years against the stolen base.

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So yeah, I promised a time and place where I would eat crow on my 11 Bold Predictions for 2013 (you can refresh your memory here with Part I and Part II), and this is where we landed. Right smack dab in the off-season where hopefully none of you will read this. Obviously that means my predictions were a smashing success, right? Totally. That’s exactly what it means. I’m lying. But hey, these weren’t rational predictions, so there’s that. Follow me after the jump for the official tally…

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SAGNOF refers to “saves/steals ain’t got no face”. In other words, they can come from unlikely sources throughout the season and us fantasy baseball folk shouldn’t sell the farm for them on draft day. Let me tell you, 2013 was no exception. When I received my series assignment from Grey earlier this year, I was excited to explore steals as a topic for my column, if only because I knew it would help a lot of people out there do better in the category. I also couldn’t recall many other fantasy sites hitting steals as a primary topic week-in and week out, so hats off to Razzball for being ahead of the game yet again.

It was fascinating to follow along as players rose and fell in value based on steals alone, and even more fascinating to watch match-ups against certain teams yield steals in bunches. This offseason, I’ll be posting every other week and sticking with the stolen base as my focus. We’ll start by taking a look back, but then we’ll shift our gaze forward to 2014 and see if we can get a leg up on the competition prior to our drafts next spring. Let’s get started with a look at the big picture when it comes to steals over the last five years…

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Like any stereotypical rock band or movie franchise, I’m going to try to repeat success by sticking with the same formula. I’m referring to last week’s post about The Next Chris Davis, which led to a number of great suggestions for next year’s breakout players. This week, while I still have your attention, I want to focus on the other side: players who you expect to take a step (or two, or three) backwards in 2014. I titled this post after Josh Hamilton’s 2013 performance, but it really could have been named after any number of disappointing performances. So, who do you expect to be a bust next year? And while you’re at it, can you think of any bands with a second album that was better than their debut or a movie franchise that had a better sequel than the original? I’m looking forward to all of your thoughts, which will provide me with some topics to endure the cold, winter months that some call the offseason…

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First off, I just want to say a quick thank you to all of the readers who welcomed me this year. Your comments and questions were always appreciated and they are what make Razzball the best site around for fantasy baseball. As Grey mentioned in the BUY post last Friday, the best strategy at this point is to unload anybody who isn’t helping you win right now, so with that in mind we’ll look at three options who are possibly available to help your team gain some ground in steals over these last few games. Just as a general strategy for those in weekly leagues, since steals are a counting stat it would be a good idea to look at guys who have 7 games as opposed to 6 left on the schedule to try to squeeze every last statistical drop out of them. As far as daily leagues go, playing the matchups like we have all year is a good idea. Teams like the Red Sox, Tigers, Angels, Rays, Phillies, Padres, Cubs, White Sox, Astros, Nationals, and Giants have given up the most stolen bases this year and they are all teams to target when deciding who to start against for steals.

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As the Fantasy Baseball season comes to end, it’s time for one more visit to the Razzball Fantasy Lounge where we fake baseball scribes are collectively licking our wounds, sticking pins in our Ryan Braun voodoo doll and drowning our sorrows in $1 beers and cheap whiskey shots. On this last lazy Sunday of the Fantasy Baseball season we find Sky in a dark corner slowly rocking back and forth muttering the words, “Colabello, Colabello, Colabello.” Bellying up to the bar is our resident podcaster Nick, disheveled and demanding another Canadian Club, cursing his last place Blue Jays and wondering, “Is there a CFL Fantasy League?” Dropping his last quarter in the jukebox, JayWrong selects The Doors “The End” and simply asks, “Anyone think Mike Trout is the number 1 pick next year?” *bottle smashes above head* Meanwhile, in the parking lot we find Tehol in the backseat of his 1977 Impala locking lips with this sweet “lady” he’ll soon discover has more hair on her back than George “The Animal” Steele -“NOT AGAIN!!” Here at the pool table is your humble-but-nonetheless-handsome Guru contemplating his final list of fantasy ballers that’ll score you the championship, bragging rights and maybe a little cash in your FBB league. *closes eye, takes aim, sinks eight ball off two rails, drops shot glass into pint, downs boilermaker, throws up on Grey’s snakeskin boots* “Sorry, boss.”

Here’s one more for the road, it’s time to jam it or cram it.

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I’m going to assume that whoever is still reading fantasy baseball articles at this point in the year is a dedicated fantasy baseball player. That’s fair, right? So I wanted to use this article to get your thoughts on some of the best breakout players for 2014 while I still have your attention. On some level, I’m looking for who might be the next Chris Davis. This is kind of ironic because, before Mr. Davis, you would have called this the next Jose Bautista. And so on. So who are some of the players you’re expecting to take the next step in 2014?

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Jonathan Villar dished out a big old helping of steals this past week, and I wouldn’t expect anything different after not including him in my last few posts – D’oh! Fact is, prior to this week’s little splurge, Villar had gone from August 13th to September 5th with only 1 stolen base and 3 caught stealing. I couldn’t justify recommending him as a reliable source of stolen bases while he was in the midst of that kind of steals drought, especially at a critical point in the season like this. I’m changing my tune though after watching him steal 4 bases and chip in a homer to boot. He’s got the speed and last week is probably a good sign that the steals slump from August is officially over. He now has 17 steals in just 44 games and despite being caught 7 times already, he’s a player who should be worth a roll of the dice over the last two weeks of the season even with a tough match-up against the Reds to start the week. A lot of other owners have already jumped on board, as his ownership at the four letter word jumped 40%. If he’s already gone in your league, here are a few other options for steals that may be available on your wire:

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If you’re reading this, congratulations, you must be in that exclusive club only regarded for winners like you – the Fantasy Baseball playoffs. If you’re reading this and don’t even play fantasy baseball, you must have done a google search on “dustbuster masturbation.” I’m not judging. Perv. To win in the playoffs we have to apply any and all strategies we have learned over the past 150 games: Play the numbers over the names – if Carl Crawford and Torii Hunter are slumping, bench them. Choose the best matchups – Hitter-Tron is your new best friend. Just keep that horny robot away from your toaster oven. Rosterbate daily – you won’t go blind, just do it until you need glasses. Look for players in real life playoff fights – Rays and Royals won’t be getting rests, Tigers and Red Sox will. Shoot dirty pool – grab a player you may not need, but could help your opponent; ethics and “fair play” have no place in our fake baseball world. It’s been a fun jammer crammer kinda season, my dear Razzballers. I feel we have all grown so close over the past six months. You’re like family now and by family I mean we only speak once a week via the internet. We have shared many fond memories of Ike Davis bashing, Xander Bogaerts watching, metal music talking, Twitter stalking and Islay scotch consuming. No, we can’t be blood brothers, but thanks for asking. Let’s complete this mission and bring home the championship. It’s time to jam it or cram it.

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Seriously, I’ve been on a bad streak on these. I’m giving you that fair warning. It seems no matter what research I do – and yes I do research – flies back in my face like I just spit out the car window. Chris Colabello? Awful. Dustin Ackley? Egads. Michael Morse? There are baby diapers out there that were stuffed full of more stats then he was. It’s such a tough stretch of year to not only nail down playing time but to also performance. But one thing I thought I could nail down? You guys knowing who the current starting first baseman was for the Saint Louis Cardinals. This feels cheaper than a date with Jaywrong, but I just have to point out the 14.8% owned Matt Adams and how he should be able to assist you in week 25 of your 2013 Fantasy Baseball season path to dominance (or futility, if that applies)…

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