B.J. Upton is having one hell of a bad year and he recently hit bottom with an adductor injury that sidelined him through the All Star Break. There were some whispers during the first half of the season that the Braves were going to send him down to figure things out, but it never happened. The injury may have been a blessing in disguise, though. Maybe it gave him the time and the means to work on issues that he otherwise wouldn’t have gotten to if he had stayed healthy. His ownership dropped to around 40% at one point, but it’s recently surged back up due to a handful of multi -hit efforts since his return and 3 steals. For our purposes here, the steals are what I want to focus on. There’s good news and bad news here. The bad news is that the three stolen bases since his return came against the Phillies and Nationals, two of the worst teams in baseball at controlling the running game. So, before we get too excited and decide that BJ is going to rattle off 20 steals over the last 6 weeks of the season, just keep that in mind. Ready for the good news? He gets the Phillies and Nationals again this week! I wouldn’t be surprised to see him swipe a couple more with those match-ups. Here are some other speedsters I think might help your stolen base numbers this week:
Jonathan Villar – Last Week: 4 SB, This Week: TEX, @OAK, @LAA
Villar’s been working through a thumb injury but he should be back in the lineup today. Porter moved him from the leadoff spot prior to the injury, but it didn’t hurt his steals numbers. He’s stolen 10 bags in just 16 games and he’s a great option moving forward to help you in the category. His last name is pronounced (vee-YAR). You could also pronounce it (ess-BEE). If you read my column regularly, I hope I have trained you to start salivating like Pavlov’s dog when you see a match-up against the Angels. They passed the century mark in stolen bases allowed this past week. I almost need a different color for them. What’s greener than green?
Robbie Grossman – Last Week: 2 SB, This Week: TEX, @OAK, @LAA
Grossman has been a pleasant surprise since he came back up from Triple-A. The Astros are willing to give some of their youngsters a look (no, not you George Springer!) and Grossman seems to have found himself at the plate. He’s also found himself in the leadoff spot lately. He’s a perfect 4-for-4 in stolen base attempts this time around and also gets the Halos later this week.
Rajai Davis – Last Week: 0 SB, This Week: OAK, BOS, @TB
I don’t get why Rajai isn’t playing every day, but he still needs to be owned for the stolen base potential while Melky is sidelined. SAGNOF is a fickle beast, but Rajai has two great match-ups this week against Boston and Tampa Bay. Emilio Bonifacio has had the audacity to steal some playing time from the King of SAGNOF. I’m surprised he hasn’t been bludgeoned to death with Rajai’s SAGNOF scepter by now.
Eric Young – Last Week: 0 SB, This Week: @LAD, @SD
EY2 has hit a snag in the last couple of weeks and more importantly the steals have started to evaporate. Still, he’s a great option for SAGNOF in all formats and the series against the Padres later this week could get him back on track. They’re in the top 5 in stolen bases allowed.
Juan Lagares – Last Week: 2 SB, This Week: @LAD, @SD
Two weeks ago I recommended staying away from this guy, and since then he’s just kept on hitting and has chipped in 3 steals to boot. That’s enough to shut me up so go ahead and ride him while he’s hot. The centerfield gig is his and he’s been batting second in the lineup. The Padres match-up this week won’t hurt either.
Leonys Martin – Last Week: 7 SB, This Week: @HOU, MIL, SEA
Martin has continued to hit for a solid average and contribute great steals numbers. He stole 3 in back-to-back games against the Angels last week (who else?). I don’t see the acquisition of Rios hurting his playing time at all, and he isn’t just a one trick pony like a Ben Revere or Jonathan Villar. Start him with confidence this week against Milwaukee and Seattle.
Teams highlighted in green are in the top ten for most stolen bases allowed.
Teams highlighted in red are in the top ten for least stolen bases allowed.
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