Hey, Razzball nation! Once again we’re back for another quasi-exciting episode of SAGNOF: Steals edition.
This week, I figured I’d lead off with a bit of a different format. Instead of profiling a steals target for you to seek out on the waiver wire or FAAB run, I decided to take a bit of a deeper look at the backstops with less than desirable defensive numbers in the league.
At least one of these guys did not help his case to avoid the infamous ‘best catchers to run on’ list with a rough week over the last 7 days.
21 year old top prospect Francisco Alvarez came into the year with a lot of fanfare. The 70 grade power was well documented over his three years in the minor leagues, and there were a lot of people hoping that he’d break camp with the big club.
Of the 28 games that Alvarez has played in New York this year, last Wednesday’s was the one that helped land him on our top (bottom?) catchers to run on. The Rays figured out a go-to plan and…uh…ran with it to push the game to extra innings. In short, Tampa stole 7 bases against Alvarez in the 8-7 Mets win.
The good news for Alvarez owners is he did manage to flex that power with a game-tying 3-run homer with 2 out in the bottom of the ninth inning. So if you have him in your leagues, at least he’s not bottoming out in the hitting categories. 5 HR and a .304 OBP in 92 PA isn’t exactly going to win him the rookie of the year, though, either.
If you have some Rockies or Cubs to stream against the Mets this week, you could make up some ground in steals if Alvarez continues to lay an egg in the throwing department. Nico Hoerner is officially back for Chicago, and the Rockies have their leader (7 SB) out in CF (Brenton Doyle).
When a team like the Mets are turning to Gary Sanchez as their answer for defensive deficiencies, you know there might be more than one problem to address. El Gary’s career defensive runs saved total is -9. Oof.
Here’s the top 5 best teams to run against (so worst opponent SB% by team)
|TEAM||OPP. SB%||NEXT 7 GAMES||PRIMARY CATCHER||CS% (CS/ATTEMPTS)|
|MARLINS||92.9||@COL/@LAD||JACOB STALLINGS||4% (1/21)|
|PADRES||90.5||@WSH/@NYY||AUSTIN NOLA||8.6% (3/35)|
|ANGELS||89.2||BOS/MIA/@CWS||MATT THAISS||6.7% (1/15)|
|PIRATES||87.5||TEX/@SEA/@SF||AUSTIN HEDGES||11.5% (3/26)|
|DODGERS||87.3||@ATL/@TB/WSH||AUSTIN BARNES||10% (4/40)|
|METS||86.3||@CHC/@COL||FRANCISCO ALVAREZ||10.8% (4/37)|
Speaking of steals…and of course we are…here are the team leaders up to, but not including, Tuesday night’s games…
|TEAM||GAMES PLAYED||STOLEN BASES||CAUGHT STEALING|
A quick check in on some of the teams from our chart…
- Well, that 7 SB game that I mentioned in the opening certainly helped vault Tampa up our leaderboard. A breakdown of the Rays runners from that one: Taylor Walls (2), Luke Raley, Randy Arozarena, Josh Lowe, Wander Franco (2).
- My staff pick for bounceback of the year is looking pretty good. Wander Franco is not only bringing it with the bat, (7 HR, 23 RBI, .827 OPS), but he’s 14-for-19 in stolen base attempts on the year. I had hoped that all we needed to see was a healthy start from Franco, both literally and figuratively, and I think it’s clear that he’s well on his way to out-earning his 84.61 ADP from draft season.
- Josh Lowe is another pleasant surprise for those that bought into the post-hype. He’s second on the Rays in SB with 9 (tied with Walls).
- It’s probably obvious to everyone that whenever we see Oakland mentioned, it’s really just an opportunity to check in on our (my) favorite burner, Esteury Ruiz. He led the league with another 5 SB over the past week, and sits atop the player board with 24 in 27 attempts.
- The rest of the Oakland list is, as expected, rife with names that would make an expansion team giggle. Ramon Laureano is the only one of note with more than a couple (3), but I’d hesitate to add him in shallower leagues. Laureano has one steal in May, a pretty nasty 36.4 K%, and an OBP of .167 in 66 plate appearances over the month.
- There’s been a bit of a resurgence in St. Louis over the last couple of weeks, and at least part of that has been boosted by the running game. The Cardinals (15) are second to only the Rays (20) in SB over the last 15 days.
- Unlike the A’s, St. Louis is much more of a ‘spread the wealth’ kind of sum in the SB department. 11 different players are on the steals board for the Cards.
- Tommy Edman is doing what Tommy Edman does. Unsurprisingly, Edman leads the team with 7 SB, but Paul Goldschmidt is a perfect 7-for-7 there as well.
For the profile this week, I’ll reference the Hittertron SB$ values for some of our best plays (May 23 – May 30).
Just a reminder that you can have full access to all of this, along with Streamonator and Relievonator (and more) with our 2023 Razzball Fantasy Baseball Subscriptions.
Matt McLain – CIN – SS – (24th SS for SB$ on Hittertron for the next 7 days)
I touched on a couple of numbers in the comments from last week, but I wanted to at least do a bit of a deeper dive in on McLain for those that are still looking at him on waivers or thinking of throwing some FAAB at him in leagues where he wasn’t scooped up this past weekend.
The 23 year old shortstop has some pretty good prospect grades across the board, with the best being his 60 grade speed. The power (both raw and in-game) come in at 50 grade, and the fielding is a respectable 55. His lowest is the 45 hit tool.
In his three minor league seasons, McLain’s walk rates and K% are what jumped out to me at first glance. In 2021 (A+), McLain had a pretty solid 14.3 BB% and an acceptable 20.2 K% over 119 AB.
The good news from his 2022 follow-up at AA, was an improved BB% – up to 15.5%. The bad news was the strikeout % also rose to a pretty abysmal 28.1% (in a full season of 452 PA).
Don’t stop reading there, though! This year, McLain needed to start AAA off with a bang and he did just that. In 173 PA since the start of the 2023 minor league season, McLain bumped his BB% up above 16% and managed to reel in the K% back to 19.7%. The 12 HR and 10 SB in 38 GP certainly helped the Reds make up their minds about which of the next wave of hot prospects to call up.
Overall, those in dynasty leagues probably already have this guy rostered. But if you are looking for a middle infielder that has the ability to hit for power and steal some bases, there are worse names out there to roll the dice on. Will McLain have some growing pains as a rookie? Undoubtedly, yes. Could he put up numbers in multiple counting stat categories a la Christopher Morel, another big pickup from two weeks ago? Also, yes.
With names like Elly De La Cruz and Christian Encarnacion-Strand behind him in the pecking order, McLain will certainly have to continue to produce to hold on to his everyday playing time. Blasting his first career MLB homer last night seems like a good step toward ensuring that he keeps this job for the foreseeable future.
Before I leave for the week, here are our top 10 SB leaders (individual and, again, as of Tuesday afternoon). I’ll try to keep the chart handy for you each week just to use as a reference point if you find that it helps.
|NAME||TEAM||STOLEN BASES||CAUGHT STEALING||ON-BASE PERCENTAGE|
|Ronald Acuna Jr.||Braves||19||2||.430|
|Ji Hwan Bae||Pirates||14||5||.309|
|Jazz Chisholm Jr.||Marlins||14||2||.291|
|Whit Merrifield||Blue Jays||13||1||.339|
That’s all, Razzfolks! If you have any ideas of players that you want a deeper look at, drop them in the comments. As always, if you have any questions or thoughts, you can always catch me here or @MarmosDad on Twitter. Good luck with your SAGNOF plays this week!