Trying to find a worthwhile steals guy in an OPS league is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. But who looks for needles in haystacks anymore (sorry Amish readers)? A better comparison would be trying to find a sane prediction out of Matthew Berryâ€™s bold predictions. In all seriousness, Mr. Berry is as talented a writer as I am experienced at being a fantasy baseball league commissioner. Speaking of which, yâ€™all should sign up to be in a Razzball Commenter League and even be a league commissioner, which you could add on your resume (you can even add me as a reference). One more plug: some of the Razzball writers just began a mock draft. You should follow along at #RazzballMock (Iâ€™m @votetomjacks if that wasnâ€™t already obvious). Itâ€™ll be the beeâ€™s knees. Letâ€™s get the buzz going! Anyway, if youâ€™re wondering how it feels trying to get steals in an OPS league, I suggest you read A Tale of Two SAGNOFs. Essentially, there are very few steals guys that wonâ€™t hurt you too much in the OPS category, which makes these players that much more valuable. Did I mention that this article was inspired by a few awesome commenters in last weekâ€™s article? Now I did. My fellow Razzballers, here is a batch of 30+ steal players that wonâ€™t hurt you (too much) in OPS leagues:
Mike Trout â€“ Well, duh. His value in OPS leagues is even stronger, if thatâ€™s possible, because he should have a .900 OPS with a potentially league-leading number of steals. He serves well to introduce a theme of looking for power/speed guys in OPS leagues, since the power they have should keep their OPS above a decent baseline.
Ryan Braun â€“ Now Iâ€™m not saying that you need all of your speed guys to hit 40 homers because that would be impossible, unless youâ€™re playing in a one team league. However, having the potential for double digit home runs would be nice.
Desmond Jennings â€“ Heâ€™s not an unknown, but heâ€™s a great example of a speedster to target. For once, I completely agree with the Bill James projection of 15 homers, 36 stolen bases, and a .261/.337/.417 line. He may even have slight upside from there across the board.
Jose Reyes â€“ No, heâ€™s not an unknown either, but I wanted to bring him up to illustrate a larger point. At weaker OPS positions, steals guys who can maintain a decent OPS are more valuable. So, even if Reyes â€śonlyâ€ť posts something similar to his .287/.347/.433 line from last season, his steals are fantastic because the other shortstops that get steals tend to really hurt your OPS.
Jose Altuve â€“ Iâ€™ll let you in on a little secret. Or maybe itâ€™s a big secret. James Brown came to me in a dream last night and took me to the Apollo Theater where I became his band leader. When he played â€śI Feel Goodâ€ť he started improvising about how Jose Altuve was going to lead his fantasy baseball team to the promised land. So James and I are in agreement about Altuve being a great stolen base guy in OPS leagues, especially considering the weak position. Yes, weâ€™re on a first name basis now.
Norichika Aoki â€“ Thereâ€™s not much to say about Aoki other than I like him, his numbers from last season seem reasonable, and I expect him to produce nearly the same line as his .288/.355/.433 from 2012.
Brett Gardner â€“ After missing most of last year, I expect him to have a solid 2013. His .730ish OPS and 40+ steals will make you glad you waited on Michael Bourn multiple rounds earlier. In fact, Iâ€™d project a .270/.350/.380 line for both of them.
Adam Eaton â€“ I think Eaton could be in for a huge year. See the numbers I projected for Gardner and Bourn? Add 20 points to the OBP and 30 points to the slugging to get Eatonâ€™s projections. He could end up being a steal (see what I did there?).
Carl Crawford â€“ He was one of the first guys that came to mind. Then I winced. Then I stopped watching The Biggest Loser and ate some cake. Do I trust Crawford? Not really. Letâ€™s just say Iâ€™d rather trust Lincecum to have a rebound next year than Crawford.
Jacoby Ellsbury â€“ See what I said about Crawford? Now multiply it by two. Now divide by three. I think what Iâ€™m trying to say is that I think Ellsbury is two-thirds the risk that Crawford is, factoring in their price. What does that mean? Like Grey, Iâ€™d rather have Jennings.
Starling Marte â€“ His batting average and OBP could both hurt you, but his slugging could also make up for it. Iâ€™m not entirely comfortable projecting him for more than his .257/.300/.437 line from last season since his strikeouts were high and walks were low.
Alejandro De Aza â€“ I think heâ€™ll be what he was last year, with a few more steals across a full season. His .281/.349/.410 line from 2012 looks reasonable for 2013.
B.J. Upton â€“ I expect some OBP improvement for Upton this year and project a .240/.330/.450 line.
Angel Pagan â€“ I love that his name is an oxymoron. Unlike his manager, who sometimes lacks oxy. I think Pagan will approach a .280/.330/.440 line this year.
Shane Victorino â€“ Iâ€™d bet on a rebound for Victorino. Maybe Iâ€™m too optimistic, but I believe heâ€™ll reach at least a .270/.340/.430 line in 2013.
Which ones did I miss? Feel free to let me know in the commentsâ€¦