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.

  1. Moosebiscuit says:

    Great article! This is info which is very important, yet overlooked

  2. AL KOHOLIC says:

    cool,nice work,now if my guys could get on base

    • Mike

      Mike says:

      @AL KOHOLIC: Thanks, I’m feeling your pain. Maybin already riding the pine today to “clear his head”.

      • Wallpaper Paterson says:

        @Mike: Maybin in my starting lineup but benched in real life was a positive for me. I have him on two teams with sub .200 averages. I am hoping for Maybin to get a pinch hit.

        • Mike

          Mike says:

          @Wallpaper Paterson: Nice. I’m rockin’ a .118 today and just heard Segura (who I own everywhere) banged up his quad. Gotta love Week 1.

  3. Lee says:

    Hanigan’s numbers are inflated by catching Cueto, who is pretty much impossible to steal on. Everyone else he catches, especially Latos, can be run on (although it’s likely Mesoraco will be stealing some starts from him soon).

    • Mike

      Mike says:

      @Lee: Great point, Cueto is one of the best in the game. Worth noting too that Mesorasco’s CS% with the Reds up to this point has been 22%. Thanks for your comment!

  4. Wallpaper Paterson says:

    I believe Matt Harvey has not yet allowed a base to be stolen against him and he has picked off at least one base runner.

    • Mike

      Mike says:

      @Wallpaper Paterson: Yup, that’s true about Harvey. If you go by a minimum of 150 IP, the top ten from 2012 would be Harrison, Cueto, Colon, H ALvarez, Hudson, Wainwright, Fister, Detwiler, Westbrook, and Miley (all with 3 or fewer). AJ Burnett allowed the most SBs at 38.

  5. g-stav says:

    Bonifacio vs. Everth Cabrera… who gets more steals by the end of the year/is more fantasy relavant?

    • Mike

      Mike says:

      @g-stav: Strictly steals I like Cabrera better. If he gets the ABs, Bonifacio might benefit from the better lineup and park when it comes to the other cats IMO.

  6. Bring the Cain says:

    Drop Maybin for Saunders, or give Maybin another week? Weekly locked league.

    • Mike

      Mike says:

      @Bring the Cain: I’d give him some time since it is still really early, but he is frustrating and I personally won’t hold onto him this year as long as I did last year if he can’t get it together: toe tap or no toe tap.

  7. Clint says:

    Whom, if anyone, would you drop for Hicks, Saunders, or Pierre? I’m struggling for more power with Hanley and Hart out and thinking of making a move with either Marte or Howie Kendrick (Espinosa & Murphy are available there). My thinking is either concentrate totally on avg/speed until Hart/H-Ram return (aka stand pat more or less) or search for more power until then. Here’s my team:

    C: V-Mart
    SS-A. Escobar
    OF1: Braun
    OF2: Heyward
    OF3: Jay
    Util1: Dom Brown
    Util2: Marte
    Bench: H-Ram
    SP1: Gallardo
    SP2: CJ Wilson
    RP1: Romo
    RP2: Perkins
    P: J. Veras
    P: J. Henderson
    P: K .Herrera
    Bench: Teheren
    Bench: Shelby Miller
    Bench: Morrow
    Bench: Lester

    Thanks again guys!

  8. Mike

    Mike says:

    I like Espinosa if you can take the hit to AVG. He’s a good bet for 20-20 and might be a good option for you if he’s available. I too have HanRam waiting on my DL but I’m not expecting a lot of power when he gets back given that it’s a hand injury.

  9. 3FingersBrown says:

    Good stuff Mike. Perhaps you can focus on pitchers holding runners on in the future.

    • Mike

      Mike says:

      @3FingersBrown: Thanks! Great idea, I’ll be fine tuning this as the year goes on and we get some more data for this year. There are a lot of factors that go into base running that we can explore with this series.

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