Each week I’ll be looking at some favorable match-ups to help you grab a few extra steals for your fantasy team. Whether you are in a weekly or daily league, looking at weak defensive catchers and strong/aggressive base running teams may help you make decisions as to which players you should start or sit in your hunt for an edge in the stolen base category. Since the 2013 season is only a week old, I’ll use some data from 2012 to get started and give you an idea of what we will be looking for. Just realize that these are only two dimensions that can affect stolen base totals.
2012 Catchers CS% (Caught Stealing %)
Red Light: Hanigan (CIN) 49%, Y Molina (STL) 48%, Kratz (PHI) 46%, M Montero (ARI) 42%, Perez (KC) 42%, Wieters (BAL) 39%, Quintero (PHI) 35%, Ellis (LAD) 33%, Flowers (CWS) 33%, J Molina (TAM) 33%
Green Light: Mauer (MIN) 14%, Marson (CLE) 14%, Baker (SD) 16%, Ramos (WAS) 17%, Brantly (MIA) 18%, Saltalamacchia (BOS) 18%, Laird (ATL) 19%, Castro (HOU) 19%, Cervelli (NYY) 20%, Lucroy (MIL) 21%
Notes: Hard to say whether Joe Mauer’s struggles were related to age, his leg fatigue injury from 2011, or a combination of the two, but it looks like teams will be testing him in 2013. It’s not surprising to see Yadier Molina at the top of the red light list, but Ryan Hanigan is a catcher that may not be as well known for his ability to nab base stealers. Although Carlos Ruiz will be out for a while, it doesn’t look as though teams will be having much success against the Phillies’ current backstops either. Paying attention to when Carlos Santana DHs might be beneficial as there is a 12% difference between Carlos and fellow Indians backstop Lou Marson, whose 14% was tied for the worst in MLB.
|2012 SB Attempts/SB% (MLB Average ~ 146, 73%)|
|Red Light||Green Light|
|21.Texas 135/67%||1. San Diego 201/77%|
|22. Atlanta 133/76%||2. Milwaukee 197/80%|
|23. Boston 128/76%||3. Miami 190/78%|
|24. St. Louis 128/71%||4. Tampa Bay 178/75%|
|25. Pittsburgh 125/58%||5. Minnesota 172/78%|
|26. New York (AL) 120/78%||6. Kansas City 170/78%|
|27. New York (NL) 117/68%||7. Los Angeles (AL) 167/80%|
|28. Cincinatti 114/76%||8. Toronto 164/75%|
|29. Baltimore 87/67%||9. San Francisco 157/75%|
|30. Detroit 82/72%||10. Oakland 154/79%|
Notes: While Philadelphia was not in the top ten in attempts (139), their SB% was the best in baseball (83%). I think that it would be reasonable to expect Miami to move down and Toronto to move up this year given the exchange of speedy players between them in the offseason. I also would expect Boston to move up as Toronto was in the top ten in attempts last year under manager John Farrell. I don’t see Detroit or Baltimore suddenly becoming aggressive on the base paths and while Pittsburgh was not dead last in attempts, their 58% success rate was the worst in all of baseball.
Working the Wire: The following players are owned in less than 20% of ESPN leagues.
Aaron Hicks, OF (MIN)
Hicks stole 32 bags in 129 games in Double-A last year. The Twins are one of the more aggressive running teams and the center field gig is his as long as he hits. Don’t beat him up too much for the O-fer he put up Opening Day against Verlander and keep an eye on him as a possible cheap source of steals.
Michael Saunders, OF (SEA)
Saunders went all “Two for Tuesday” against Oakland, stealing a pair and scoring a pair. He is a good bet for a 20 HR-20 SB season after going 19-21 in 2012. There’s a blemish in that he will sit occasionally in a crowded outfield, but when he starts he’s batting second in an improved Mariners lineup. I don’t see him flying under the radar all season like last year.