When we discuss stolen bases, we often only look at the positive. Talking about the league leaders and the teams who appear to be running most often. What we tend to miss, is discussing just the opposite. For example, the Detroit Tigers are currently in last place in stolen bases with only three thus far. Often we would consider this to be a function of their roster construction and talent but with players like Robbie Grossman, Javier Baez, Akil Badoo, and others there are players who have historically run. While it’s likely early and this will change one to keep an eye on is Javier Baez who had a thumb issue early and has yet to attempt a stolen base. This will put a ton of pressure on his hit tool to carry a high AVG. Here are some other notable players who have not been running as expected:

  • Trevor Story who has had at least 15 SBs in each season of his career only has one stolen base thus far. He will likely run more as he begins to reach base more often I’m not worried
  • Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco – these Twins teammates were drafted by many with the hopes of double-digit SBs. Polanco is 0-2 thus far and may not reach 10 like he did last year unless the efficiency returns. Buxton has already had one injury and the Twins may view his bat as more valuable than his legs and may give him the red light on the base paths.

On the flip side there are a number of interesting names to look out for on the waiver wire this week:

  • Harrison Bader – The Cardinals CF ranks third in the league with six SBs thus far. He may be on the wire in some shallow leagues and he has an everyday role. There is some power in the profile but the AVG will likely be around average to below average
  • Derek Hill – Hill appears to have taken over as the Tigers CF, taking the job from Akil Baddoo. We already discussed the Tigers lack of SB attempts but Hill has game-breaking speed. There is little else in the profile to love but you could do worse
  • Taylor Walls – Any time we discuss a Tampa Bay Ray, the concern is playing time. However, with injuries to Ji-Man Choi and others as well as the demotion of Josh Lowe, Walls appears to have a fairly regular job. He has a minor league track record of big SB totals and has reached 10+ homers a few times. He won’t wow you but there is speed and there’s no reason he can’t be a discount version of Myles Straw
Name Team SB CS CS% Inn SB/Inn
Tucker Barnhart DET 11 2 15.4% 117 0.09
Austin Hedges CLE 12 4 25.0% 136.2 0.09
Travis d’Arnaud ATL 13 4 23.5% 149 0.09
Jacob Stallings MIA 14 5 26.3% 162.1 0.09
Mitch Garver TEX 9 2 18.2% 107 0.08
Willson Contreras CHC 10 2 16.7% 130 0.08
Max Stassi LAA 10 1 9.1% 132 0.08
Joey Bart SFG 9 1 10.0% 125.1 0.07
Reese McGuire CHW 7 2 22.2% 108 0.06
Carson Kelly ARI 8 2 20.0% 132 0.06
Alejandro Kirk TOR 7 1 12.5% 133 0.05
James McCann NYM 7 2 22.2% 136 0.05
Mike Zunino TBR 6 1 14.3% 122 0.05
Christian Vazquez BOS 6 6 50.0% 131.1 0.05
Will Smith LAD 6 1 14.3% 134.2 0.04
Yadier Molina STL 5 2 28.6% 113 0.04
Keibert Ruiz WSN 7 5 41.7% 159 0.04
Roberto Perez PIT 6 3 33.3% 143 0.04
Austin Nola SDP 5 0 0.0% 125 0.04
Robinson Chirinos BAL 4 4 50.0% 121 0.03

While we often blame SBs strictly on the catchers the reality is that pitchers are equally to blame. However, over the course of the season, the pitcher effect will likely be capturable within the catchers’ numbers. Right now, teams are taking advantage of Tucker Barnhart, Austin Hedges, Travis d’Arnaud, and Jacob Stallings. Here are the matchups for next week for those teams:

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