The Futures Game was yesterday, and while I’m writing this post prior to the game actually being played, here’s about what I’d expect the broadcast booth banter to sound like – “Player X has a lot of loud tools. He has a bright future in the bigs. This kid is going to be a perennial All-Star. Comps, hyperbole, etc.” Sounds cynical, but unfortunately there are no crystal balls. It’s fun to dream on these guys, though, and really that’s what the Futures Game is all about to me – showcasing the best young talent in the game at the moment. Be sure to check out the Futures Game edition of the Minor Accomplishments series from Chris yesterday. On this short week let’s see if there are any players in the minors we should have our eye on from a steals perspective. Players like George Springer, Gregory Polanco, Mookie Betts, and most recently Arismendy Alcantara have already come up this year. They all have the ability to make an impact in the stolen base department. So let’s see who’s next. Whether they are close to the bigs or a ways away, these players should make an impact when their time comes.

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Well that was a nice easy title to kick things off after a week’s vacation. All that fresh sea air and funnel cake at the Jersey Shore really refreshed me spiritually. Of course the Atlantic City Expressway had the reverse effect, so I guess I have to call it a wash. This week, James Jones and his five steals in two weeks is getting the lede. Jones went from being more of a deep/AL-only play to mixed league relevant rather quickly. His biggest asset in fantasy is obviously the speed, and he’s now 17-for-18 in stolen base attempts in just 228 plate appearances. The 25-year-old outfielder bats from the left side and he’s a no-brainer add if you need some cheap steals out of an OF5 slot. Jones will face off against the Twins and Athletics this week. The Twins are just outside the top ten in MLB for steals allowed. By the by, it’s hard not to think of James Earl Jones when discussing this guy. My association with JEJ isn’t Darth Vader or Field of Dreams, though. It’s as the host of Long Ago & Far Away, a trippy claymation style kid’s show. Maybe there are some other thirty-somethings out there who remember the Pied Piper episode as vividly as I do. I digress. Here are some other steals plays for this week in 2014 fantasy baseball…

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James Jones has appeared in this column before, but his three steals against the Padres last week opened the eyes of fantasy players in all formats. It shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise given who those steals came against though. The Padres are one of the worst teams in the majors at holding baserunners and on that particular night it was Tyson Ross on the mound. Ross is currently leading the major leagues in stolen bases allowed (21). He’s got a big red target on his back for those of us in daily leagues looking to deploy SAGNOF types. If you look at it as a rate, the Padres hurler is giving up about a steal for every five innings pitched. Ross is scheduled to face the Diamondbacks this week, so even fringy players like Tony Campana might be worth a shot for a stolen base. Week to week we give you the best and worst teams to run against, but looking even closer at the individual pitchers can be helpful for daily lineup changes. Hey Mike, I wish we had a tool for that! I hear you, friend. Check out the SB Rates vs. SP tool. It will give you the stolen base against data for each pitcher in 2013. Here’s a quick rundown of the best arms to run against in 2014 fantasy baseball…

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Eric Young is set to return from the disabled list prior to today’s game. While hamstring injuries are never fun to mess around with, Young did have 17 stolen bases before the injury. He had been relegated to a fourth outfielder role with the Mets, but now that Juan Lagares is hurt, Young should see a decent amount of playing time in the near future. He’ll draw the Cardinals and the Marlins this week. The match-up with St. Louis is obviously tough (only 18 steals allowed) but then there’s a four game set with Miami. That series should be a good opportunity for Young to show off his wheels as the Marlins are currently ranked fourth in baseball with 52 steals allowed. Here are some other steals picks for this week in 2014 fantasy baseball…

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I already went over my Danny Santana fantasy three weeks ago. But forget SAGNOF, Daniel Santana was an offensive machine this weekend! Leading off for the Twins on Saturday, the 23-year-old went 4-for-5 with a double, five runs batted in, and his fourth steal of the season. Need more? He’s eligible as a shortstop and an outfielder. His defense hasn’t been all that great in the outfield, but he could continue to see reps at both center and shortstop even when Morales is ready to DH. Santana is now 4-for-4 in stolen base attempts in just 72 plate appearances. He’s also hitting .373 with a .408 on base percentage. While it won’t last, he’s worth a look while he’s hot if you need a short-term spark. He’ll face the Blue Jays and the Tigers this week. Both teams are in the top ten in baseball for stolen bases allowed… we call that a green light special.

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The 2014 season is two months old, so it’s data day here at the Razzball Steals Emporium. This is kind of like the chapter review our teachers gave us in school, except there is no test, so everybody wins. We have to mention Dee Gordon to start. His ADP was 222. This is ironic because that’s about how many steals he’ll likely end up with this year. With 34 stolen bases on June 1, the 26-year-old middle infielder is on a crazy pace for about 90 swipes this season. Billy Hamil-who?

Gordon has always had speed, but he’s doing more to utilize it this year in the majors. He’s been successful on the basepaths 92% of the time. He’s swinging at less pitches outside of the strike zone, making better contact, and striking out less in general. Gordon has also been hitting more ground balls, less fly balls, and significantly less infield fly balls. This has all resulted in a better batting average, better on-base percentage, and in turn crazy stolen base numbers. It’s almost as if someone reminded Dee that he was fast and should just try to put the ball on the ground. Amazing!

Gordon owners can enjoy the ride and shouldn’t stay up at night worrying about him falling off a cliff. If anything, I wouldn’t be shy to acquire Gordon off of an owner who was nervous about that very scenario. He won’t provide much outside of stolen bases, but he’ll help you come close to winning that category from a middle infield position, allowing you to roster more balanced players in your outfield slots.

Here’s where we’re at with steals through the first two months in 2014 fantasy baseball…

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It’s not even June and the Mariners are on their second leadoff hitter in James Jones. The 25-year-old center fielder has hit at the top of the Mariners lineup and looks to remain there for the foreseeable future. Yes, I copied and pasted that last sentence from the Abraham Almonte post. Jones has looked good though, hitting .306 with a .377 OBP in the twenty games since his call up. More importantly, he’s swiped three bags already and projects to steal around 15 bases by year’s end. That’s a serviceable number for deeper mixed league owners struggling to find steals in their lineup. Jones stole 25+ in each of his last two minor league seasons, and he’s currently sporting a 62% ground ball percentage which is allowing him to maximize his speed. That percentage is seventh among outfielders with at least 50 plate appearances. This week, Jones gets a favorable match-up against the Tigers, who have allowed the tenth most stolen bases this season (34). A battery of Anibal Sanchez and Alex Avila has quickly become one of my favorite to run against since beginning this column. Jones probably won’t get to face that specific battery this time around, but one of our other SAGNOF picks will. Here are some of this week’s steals plays in fantasy baseball…

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Fellow Razzballer and DraftKings extraordinaire BTXJ brought Daniel Santana to our collective attention last week in the comments. Santana returned from a hamstring issue this past weekend and could be a cheap source of steals going forward. His ability to play both middle infield and outfield, as well as switch-hit, make him an interesting play in deeper leagues and leagues with daily roster moves. He’ll most likely hit from the bottom of the lineup, but he could certainly play his way up at some point. The 23-year-old is 8-for-21 in the majors this year and stole 30 bags in Double-A last season. He had stolen four bases prior to his call up from Triple-A this year. Why does an inexperienced hitter coming off an injury get the lede? He’s got the best possible match-ups this week. It’s only five games, but the Twins draw the Padres and Giants. Those teams are 1-2 for the most stolen bases allowed in the majors this year with 42 and 38 steals allowed, respectively. Even without a ton of playing time, Santana could work in a steal or two against these teams. Here are some other steals plays for this week in fantasy baseball…

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Coco Crisp‘s recent neck injury opens the door for Craig Gentry over the next few days. He’ll likely take over in center and bat at the bottom of the A’s lineup while Crisp practices turning his head in both directions. Hopefully he didn’t promise his bike to anyone who could fix him. You were supposed to sleep on a board, Coco! Gentry makes an interesting play for steals, and he appeared in this very column last week. In 2013, Gentry had 24 stolen bases in just 287 plate appearances, so he’s got some wheels. He’s already got six steals in limited playing time this year. On the schedule this week are the White Sox and the Indians. Both teams are tied for the 10th most steals allowed in the majors (25) so it’s not a bad match-up play. Crisp isn’t on the disabled list, he’s just day-to-day, so it could just be the White Sox series that Gentry gets all of the starts.

Take a peek at the new SB Rates vs. SP tool that Rudy has conjured up. Using all of last year’s data, it lets us know which pitchers to deploy our SAGNOF specialists against (based on their steals per innings pitched rates). I used it yesterday in DFS when I saw Eric Young was going to start against Cole Hamels, who’s pretty easy to run against. I swapped him into my lineup and it paid off with two steals from EY2 in the game. Here are some other SAGNOF picks for this week…

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Jace Peterson continues to see regular playing time with Chase Headley on the disabled list. Headley is expected to return around May 10th, so we should get another week of SAGNOF from Peterson. The 23-year-old has tallied two steals in 21 plate appearances for the Padres and he has seven home games on the schedule this week against the Royals and Marlins. The Royals have been stingy in allowing stolen bases, but the Marlins haven’t. The fish have given up the fourth most stolen bases in baseball entering Sunday’s games. Peterson had 39, 51, and 42 stolen bases over his last three minor league seasons. He is more of a deep league pickup, or a stop gap in your lineup given Headley’s imminent return, but the speed is real and he’s available (0% owned ESPN). A quick reminder to utilize the new SB Rates vs. SP tool here at Razzball. It’s a quick and easy way to find pitchers who are good targets to run against, and comes in handy for DFS and daily roto leagues. Here are some other steals picks for fantasy baseball this week…

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