When I started researching this article, I was aiming to list stolen base targets owned in less than 50% of ESPN leagues, but apparently, I could have lowered that number all the way to 7%. However, I’m basing that ownership on FantasyPros’s ESPN data. I don’t use ESPN myself anymore. I’m still waiting for them to reply to a customer service email I sent in 2008.
But here’s the situation you find yourself in now — you’re dead last in SB in your roto league. “I planned it this way,” you say to your league mates.
“Yep, I punted stolen bases — who cares about 1 category if I’m dominating the others?” You grimace as you look at Adalberto Mondesi’s 0 SBs on your IL, Jonathan Villar’s 0 SBs on your bench, Leody Taveras’s .160 OBP you had to drop after 3 weeks of garbage baseball.
And you’re not dominating the other categories, are you Tommy? You’re not dominating them at all. And now you find yourself desperate. Kenta Maeda and Kyle Hendricks have forgotten how to pitch (until this week.) Luis Robert is basically done for the year and that can’t-miss, sure-fire, put him in the Hall of Fame now prospect Kyle Tucker is, in fact, missing all over the place! That’s where SAGNOF has your back. The players below are so low-owned they’re cheaper than free. Pick 1 or 2 of them up and start making that climb in your league’s SB column. Deshi deshi basara basara! Deshi deshi basara basara!
Robbie Grossman, OF, DET, 6%: Robbie Grossman stole 4 bases in April. There are 6 months in a fantasy baseball season. Via the transitive property — Robbie Grossman will steal 24 bases this season. Honestly, it’s not too out of the realm of possibility if you think about it. He is the undisputed leadoff man in Detroit and his 17.5% BB% is keeping his .196 AVG rosterable in OBP leagues (.348.) His 27.6 ft/sec sprint speed isn’t elite, but it’s well above average. By this same transitive property Grossman should hit 12 HRs. 12 HRs/24 SBs/undrafted in most leagues? Not so gross, dude.
Tim Locastro, OF, ARI, 5%: Timmy Lo-fast-go (I’M CLEVER YOU GUYS!) is back from the IL after dislocating his pinkie finger, but he’s returning to a different situation than the one he left. He was riding a 9 game hitting streak back then, back now he’s on the bench with Pavin Smith, David Peralta, and Josh Rojas fill out the DBacks outfield. However, with his second-best in the league sprint speed, I still think Locastro is rosterable in NL-only roto leagues if your team is dead last in SBs.
Gregory Polanco, OF, PIT, 5%: The crowned prince of unfulfilled potential has 3 HRs and 4 SBs in his last 15 games. But this isn’t HRAGNOF so let’s focus on those steals! His OBP on the season is only .289 and that’s with a close-to-career-high 11.1% BB%. Could he reach 20 SB at that rate? Maybe. In 153 games way back in 2015 he swiped 27 with a .320 OBP. Polanco is guaranteed to land on the disabled list as he is wont to do, but if he can somehow stay healthy there’s 20+ SB potential here despite the league average sprint speed and poor on-base skills. Something to keep an eye on though is his wOBA is .285 while his xwOBA is .345. I think there could be some slight recorrection here which will help the overall SB opportunities — again — if he’s healthy.
Austin Slater, OF, SFG, 4%: Austin Slater, Alex Dickerson, Mike Yastrzemski, Mike Tauchman. The Giants can’t get enough of their generic toolsy white outfielder dudes. In fact, if it wasn’t for Donovan Solano and Aaron Sanchez holding it down right now this team would be nothing but generic white dudes. But enough about me! Slater’s got 5 SB on the season somehow, despite a .213 AVG/.300 OBP. He’s had a double-digit BB% in each of the last three seasons, but his K% has ballooned to a career-worst 34.4% mark this year. If that number can even come down to his not-so-great 28.5% career number I think we’ll see the OBP rise a bit which will lead to more SB opportunities.
Sam Haggerty, OF, SEA, 3% owned: Haggerty has 5 SBs on the season and 4 of them have come in the past 14 days. In 12 team leagues or smaller — you’re not picking him up, but in 14+ team leagues and AL-only leagues, he has to at least be on your radar. He might be a drain on your batting average (.220 career in the majors; .249 in the minors,) but his .331 career OBP in the majors might make him good enough to grab a few steals in your UTIL spot in a roto league. And don’t forget — Mariners manager Scott Servais is one of the most aggressive managers on the basepaths. Even in the bottom-third of their lineup, he could have a surprise 15-20 SB season in him.
Matt Duffy, 3B, CHC, 0%: After Duffy’s rough injury history the past few years, the 2015 rookie of the year runner-up is someone who is easy to root for. Duffman was given a few more ABs as Kris Bryant was working his way through a bicep injury and he’s taken advantage of it. Since April 21st he has 33 ABs in 12 games (8 starts) with 11 hits, 7 runs, a 7:8 BB:K ratio, and 2 SB. With talks of the Cubs trading Bryant always going around the rumor mill there could be a chance for Duffy to step into a vacant 3B gig and steal maybe 10-15 bases. His career-high is 12, but that’s before years of injuries.
Brett Phillips, OF, TB, 0%: Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way: I know he doesn’t have a starting role right now. I also know that even if he did, he plays for the Rays so he might not start on a random day because that’s how the Rays do things. I also know that Kevin Kiermaier plays for the Rays. He’s a stiff breeze away from the IL. What’s that you say? Kiermaier has ALREADY been on the IL? Of course, he has. Phillips like a few other guys on this roster is having issues making contact with the ball. A major component of being a professional baseball player I’m told. What he isn’t having issues with is watching pitches go past him. He’s got a nifty 17% BB% so far on the year. That’s on par with his breakout 2019 AAA season when he hit 18 HRs and stole 22 bases. Yea, it was in the Pacific Coast League where I’m a career .280 hitter, but park factors can’t affect your eye and legs. With ABs: 15 SBs.