Norichika Aoki is one of those guys that has come up a lot in the comments on these posts, and for good reason. After posting a really impressive 10 homer/30 steal season in 2012, his steals numbers have been pretty worrisome in 2013. Through the first half of this season, Aoki had only stolen 10 bases and had been caught 10 times. I’m no mathematician, but that’s a pretty lousy 50% CS% and not what you want to see from a guy you drafted for wheels. I had begun to think that Aoki’s first MLB season may have been a blip on the radar when I looked back on his numbers from Japan. Starting with his 2011 season, his steals numbers from his last five years there were 8, 19, 18, 31, and 17. Hence my thinking that last year’s 30 may have been just another blip. Well, Aoki changed some of that thinking this past week with a 9-game hit streak and 4 steals. More importantly, he wasn’t caught in any of those attempts. He’s not somebody that is readily available to pick up of course, but he may have found his way to your bench before his recent hot streak. Get him starting for the coming week because he gets two fantastic match-ups against the Cubs and Nationals, two teams that are terrible against the stolen base this year, and Aoki is looking like he’s ready to run.
Rajai Davis – (Last Week: 6 SB, This Week: @OAK, @LAA)
Despite only getting 14 at-bats, Rajai swiped 6 bags last week (including 4, yes 4!, yesterday). This is just how he rolls. If you can stomach the fact that he’s back in a platoon role with the Jays and play the match-ups accordingly, he’s still a great source of steals. Can’t emphasize enough how much I like any of these guys when they face the Angels, who are in a race with the Tigers for most stolen bases allowed in baseball. He could repeat that crazy performance from Sunday against the Halos.
Jonathan Villar – (Last Week: 4 SB, This Week: @BAL, @MIN)
I was one of the 3% of ESPN players who picked up Villar last week, and so far I’ve been happy with the results. (Side note: The guys I recommend here are usually on my teams). After a couple of caught stealings (one of them a pickoff), Villar nabbed two on Saturday and another on Sunday. The Astros seem to be giving their guys the green light, and Villar’s above average speed plays really well in the leadoff spot. He strikes out a lot, but he’s also been getting some hits, which in turn has resulted in steals. Tough match-ups this week, but I’m still on the Villar bandwagon if you need a middle infielder.
Eric Young – (Last Week: 3 SB, This Week: @MIA, KC)
The collision with Tim Hudson was pretty awful. While Hudson’s injury was devastating, Young also got banged up from it. Despite the gimpy knee, he managed 3 steals this past week and should be good to go. Lagares will bump him to left field, so maybe the break from centerfield duties will be better for keeping those wheels healthy. The match-ups this week are kind of neutral, and Miami is actually pretty good at catching base stealers, so I’m expecting good (but not huge) SB numbers from him over the next seven days.
Juan Lagares – (Last Week: 2 SB, This Week: @MIA, KC)
It looks like Lagares will be the Mets centerfielder from here out, and that may be getting him some attention from fantasy owners. I’m not comfortable recommending him. While he stole 21 in Double-A in 2011, he was also caught 10 times. His other minor league numbers don’t point to a major base stealing threat, so he’s only a guy that I’m taking a flier on in NL-only leagues or when other options listed here are exhausted.
Junior Lake – (Last Week: 0 SB, This Week: MIL, LAD)
Despite not stealing any bags last week and cooling off recently with the bat, I still like Lake’s speed. He’s proven he has some above average wheels in the minors and with the recent departure of Alfonso Soriano, he should see regular playing time in the Cubs outfield. While he might not be as attractive as the other options listed here, I do like the match-up against Milwaukee and he’s definitely a better option than Lagares in my opinion.
Teams highlighted in green are in the top ten in most stolen bases allowed.
Teams highlighted in red are in the top ten in least stolen bases allowed.
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