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…
A.J. Burnett, Gerrit Cole – 15 SBA
Burnett has been a yearly target for those of us who chase steals, but Cole has only recently emerged as an arm to run against. It’s worth mentioning that the hard throwing righty has actually given up those steals in 30 fewer innings than Burnett. That’s a rate of about one steal for every five innings pitched which is roughly the same rate as Ross mentioned above.
Scott Feldman – 14 SBA
Feldman’s vulnerability was on display the other night against the Nationals. My SAGNOF senses were tingling as the Nats touched him up for a whopping five stolen bases in five innings. Feldman was second in the majors last season with 30 stolen bases allowed.
Lackey has pitched well this year, but his stolen base woes have continued this season. Last year, Lackey led the major leagues in stolen bases allowed with 36. He’s a prime target. King Felix is an example of an ace whose exceptional pitching doesn’t translate to immunity from allowing stolen bases. He finished last year in the top 15 with 17 steals allowed, and will likely surpass that mark with 13 already this season. Drew Hutchison is one of the new kids on the block, but with two and a half months of the season in the books, it’s safe to list him as a new SAGNOF target.
Sorry to pile on your nightmare season Estrada, but you’re not holding baserunners very effectively either. We’ve also got our second Phillies pitcher already in Hernandez. The Phils make a decent target as a team, ranking 7th in the majors with 50 steals allowed. Even Cole Hamels coughed up 25 steals in 2013, although he’s doing much better this year with only four allowed in 80 innings pitched.
Lincecum was also in the top ten for stolen bases allowed in 2013, so his name appearing here doesn’t surprise me. Bud Norris was also on the front page of the steals leaderboards last season. Having Matt Wieters out should only make it easier to run against him.