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…

2008 2,799 16
2009 2,970 17
2010 2,959 19
2011 3,279 20
2012 3,229 23
2013 2,693 16


If there’s anything to be gleaned from this table above, it’s that steals were suddenly more precious in fantasy baseball in 2013. After enjoying two straight years of over 3,000 steals around the Major Leagues, we suddenly saw a dropoff of almost 600 stolen bases. Seven players who were able to reach the 30-steal mark in 2012 vanished in 2013. Owners who were able to capitalize on the principle of SAGNOF and pick guys up who were great basestealers really helped their teams in a year where stolen bases where fewer and far between (er). For example, if you picked up Nate McLouth for the first half of the season, and Eric Young for the second half, you ended up with 54 stolen bases on the year from what was most likely your fourth or fifth outfield slot. Here’s a look at the 16 players who were able to hit 30 steals this past year (and Billy Hamilton for s’s and g’s).

Jacoby Ellsbury 636 52 46
Eric Young 598 46 260+
Rajai Davis 360 45 260+
Jean Segura 623 44 228
Alex Rios 662 42 84
Elvis Andrus 698 42 89
Starling Marte 566 41 224
Carlos Gomez 590 40 117
Everth Cabrera 435 37 221
Leonys Martin 508 36 260+
Jose Altuve 672 35 95
Jarrod Dyson 239 34 260+
Mike Trout 716 33 3
Jason Kipnis 658 30 70
Alexei Ramirez 674 30 199
Nate McLouth 593 30 260+
Billy Hamilton * 22 13 260+

So this is SAGNOF in table form. Instead of drafting Jacoby Ellsbury and his 52 steals, picking up Nate McLouth and then Eric Young actually would have netted you 2 more stolen bases if you made the swap at the break.

I highlighted Davis and Dyson because of what they were able to accomplish in such limited playing time. If either were able to get a full season’s worth of playing time, I believe they could easily lead their respective leagues in stolen bases.

Looking at the table, 5-of-the-16 players in MLB this year who accumulated 30 steals or more were most likely available on the waiver wire at some point, and only six of them would have cost you a pick in the top-100 overall. Will those draft positions change for 2014? Of course. But there will also be a new crop of players who seem to come out of nowhere to provide stolen bases for your fantasy squads. Those are the guys we’re going to help you find, and those are the guys that can help you win your league. Oh, and then there is Billy Hamilton, who gets mentioned simply because of the ridiculousness of that ratio of plate appearances to stolen bases.

I’ll be back in two weeks with the best (and worst) pitchers at holding baserunners from 2013.

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