With a two-and-a-half month break from our full 162-game schedule, we have to fight our way through each category in the three months remaining on the schedule. Those who work just as hard on it in June as in September can position themselves well so as not to break a sweat in the last few weeks.
Throughout the draft season, you can hear it from every angle: you need to prioritize stolen bases early on. But easier said than done, right? I am here to tell you that there is still hope. You either have too much speed or too little. This series will focus on the latter.
If there’s a category to make up ground in, it’s usually stolen bases. Every week I’ll be offering a couple of options that might sit on your wire and have a good chance of getting you at least one more bag. I’m aiming for the deep cuts and only focusing on players who, according to Yahoo! Belong in less than 20% of the leagues that normally focus on leagues with 12 teams.
This list changes from week to week, but you still see a general theme. The picks won’t just focus on the Speedsters, who are generally undrafted, but mostly on sneaky pickups who can leverage their matchups, be it with an offense first catcher or a starter pitcher that has historically focused solely on that focuses on what’s in front of them and ignores the baserunner. Before we move on to this week’s recommendations, let’s see how the speedsters fared last week.
Results from last week
Yonathan Daza (COL) – 0 SB
Daza hasn’t used his matchups this week and hasn’t been sent to the bases from Colorado since May 16. Daza is still producing enough on the record to help out in other areas, and with him he returned to Coors Field seven times in a row, days next week it may be worth holding him for a while.
Niko Goodrum (DET) – 1 SB
The base stolen on Tuesday marked Goodrum’s 11th of the season, just one off his career high of 12.
Bradley room (CLE) – 0 SB
It hurt Zimmer’s chances of going into the week with two scheduled days off for Cleveland. He still starts every day in midfield for Cleveland and has a good chance of packing a bag this weekend as they continue to host Seattle.
Willi Castro (DET) and Harold Ramirez (CLE) – 0 SB combined
Not the best pairings with honorable mentions, although I still believe both can add value in the future.
Also, usually keep an eye out for players on teams who just love to run. Individual speed is great and everything, but when a speedster is stuck on a team that seldom exploits their speed then it’s not worth hanging your hat on to their sprinting speed. Here is a list of the ten most aggressive teams from the 2021 season to date, followed by the 10 least aggressive teams.
Note: Stolen basic opportunities here is defined by Baseball reference as “record appearances that put a runner in first or second place while the next base is open”.
Another thing to note here is that these matchups are always subject to change as most of these suggestions are best served in a league with daily moves. Weekly adds can still be viewed in a pretty deep league, but know that this only focuses on the ability to steal bases, at the expense of other categories as well.
After this disclaimer, let’s see who will be available in your league over the next week:
Jake Fraley, Seattle Mariners
In hindsight it’s 20/20 but I really wish I had recommended Jake Fraley last week. Sure, there is a chance this is a week late, especially after Fraley stole a pair of bases in the past week and four bags total in the last 11 starts.
With the demotion of Jared Kelenic and the injury of Kyle Lewis, it seems like playing time for Fraley, who has played the Mariners in all but two of those games since returning from his own IL stint on the 31st.
Fraley isn’t the fastest player on the team, as evidenced by his sprinting speed in the 57th percentile, but he has a long history of taking advantage of the opportunities on the bases and stealing 72 bases in 257 minor league games since 2016. Seattle loves choosing their spots, and although their attempts have eased a bit since the start of the year, they still rank fifth of the most successful with an 81% success rate (29 bases stolen out of 36 attempts).
And although Tampa Bays’ Mike Zunino has gotten a little better lately with throwing out runners, both him and Ryan Jeffers of Minnesota sit below the 22% theft mark caught in the season. Seattle with a full board for seven games doesn’t hurt either. Fraley is on Yahoo! only represented 6% but that could change with a strong weekend performance.
Taylor Walls, Tampa Bay Rays
Remember the excitement we all felt when Willy Adames was swapped away from Tampa, which made the casual fan jump for joy as assumed Hiking Franco would make his debut for the Rays on the move? Obviously that didn’t happen, instead the Rays called in the more logical player Taylor wallswho were already on their 40-man roster, taking care of the middle infield plus defense, speed, and a solid racket.
Walls’ calling card has always been his speed and his glove, and both have been seen almost every day since his debut on March 22nd. During his time in the minors, Walls stole 108 bases in 276 games since 2017. League sprint speed times have put him in the 90th percentile overall and he has the pleasure of playing for the fifth most aggressive team in baseball every day.
Combine that with Tampa’s upcoming schedule as they travel to play three in Chicago against the White Sox and four in Seattle, two of the top three worst teams to allow stolen bases – White Sox allowed 42 stolen bases while Seattle allowed 41 has – with both teams caught stealing at a rate of 16% during the season.
The main goal will be here Zack Collins the White Sox who kicked out only three of the 26 runners who tried to advance while he was behind the plate.
Note: I mistakenly wrote this down last week Luis Torrens was the catcher the teams playing Seattle were supposed to target. Torrens has been in the minors for a while, but the team itself isn’t much better at stopping runners without it, with Tom Murphy matching Torren’s stolen bases, which are allowed in the 19 season.
Walls is on Yahoo! and should be available in the coming week as a fill-in shortstop with a full list of games.
Daz Cameron, Detroit Tigers
This is my stretch pick, I totally admit that. Not like my Willie Calhoun pick a few weeks ago, but because Daz Cameron It just doesn’t guarantee the guaranteed game time that would fill its way to the opportunities.
If it turns out Cameron is going to get a longer look out on the Detroit outfield, his high strikeout rate should just keep him from stealing a base or two, especially since the Tigers are as aggressive as they have been lately. Look, Niko Goodrum, my only successful pick from last week, had 11 stolen bases by mid-June.
Cameron has a history of base stealing throughout his minor league career and even put one on the board when he made his MLB debut in 2021 a few days ago. The Tigers should give Cameron a chance to show them what they have in him and could prove something they have to prove during that seven-game stint next week.
Kurt Suzuki and Max Stassi of Angels have not had a strong track record of catching baserunner fear in recent years when they see an open base in front of them. Cameron is on Yahoo! less than 1% represented. now and will likely see some bids in the weekly FAAB leagues this Sunday.
Akil Badoo (DET) vs. Kurt Suzuki / Max Stassi (C, LAA)
Niko Goodrum (DET) vs. Kurt Suzuki / Max Stassi (C, LAA)
Photo by John Cordes / Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Twitter & IG)