The stolen base category is an interesting one indeed. How do you go about winning it? If you have a lot of guys like Nyjer Morgan and Jacoby Ellsbury on your team, you are bound to have the most steals in your league but you might have trouble keeping up in your RBI and HR categories. Likewise, if you have a bunch of power hitters you might have trouble with your stolen bases.
The easy solution to this problem is to just draft guys who offer you both stolen bases and home runs, but those guys are drafted so early that you might only get one or two of them (Matt Kemp, Matt Holliday, Grady Sizemore)
Sometimes the best way to get stolen bases is to find them in places other people would have never thought to look.
Remember in 2008 when Lance Berkman stole 18 bases? No one saw that one coming…
In 2009, Albert Pujols and Mark Reynolds surprised everyone with great stolen base production.
Every year there are a few players who surprise their owners with career years in stolen bases. The best way to sniff those guys out is to find guys who have great natural speed but just never had a chance to spin their wheels…
Gordon Beckham 2B/3B CHW: This may be obvious to some, it may not: Gordon Beckham can fly down the base-paths. He can also hit the ball out of the park. To make him even more appealing for fantasy, he can play 2B or 3B, both scarce positions this year. Oh, did I mention he plays in a hitter-friendly park and hits in the middle of the order for a high-powered offense? Actually, considering his ADP of 88, I can’t really think of anything negative to say about the guy. I know I’m targeting him in every draft I go to, and you should too. Don’t be surprised if he manages to steal 15 bases this year.
Carlos Gomez OF MIL: I’ve already talked a lot about why I like Carlos Gomez this year, but I wanted to reiterate how important it is that you draft Carlos Gomez. All things considered, there is only reward involved in drafting Gomez. He can be grabbed in the final rounds at any draft and offers high upside in stolen bases. He is playing for a new team and is looking at an everyday starting gig, so why not take a chance? If he succeeds, the stolen bases are bound to come in bunches.
Stephen Drew SS ARI: I feel like Stephen Drew will win the lead-off position this year. If he does, I expect a huge spike in his stolen bases. Lead-off guys are typically supposed to steal bases and Stephen Drew secretly has some great speed. Only one player last year hit more triples than Drew, and that was Shane Victorino. If Michael Bourn, Jacoby Ellsbury, Denard Span and Dexter Fowler are all in the top ten triple hitters from last season and they all stole 20+ bases, is it really that hard to see Drew stealing 20 bases? Don’t sleep on this player, and especially his speed. He is entering his age 27 year, so expect some career numbers from Stephen Drew.
Jose Bautista 3B/OF: This pick might come as a surprise to you, but why not take a chance on him? He has dual eligibility at third and outfield which makes him a versatile bench player for your team, and he is also going to lead-off for Toronto now that the Blue Jays traded Marco Scutaro to the Boston Red Sox. He might not have a history that suggests an outbreak in stolen bases, but anything goes for lead-off hitters. He could hit 20 homers and steal 10-12 bases if the season plays out well for him. Look for him in the late rounds in 12+ team leagues.
Austin Jackson OF DET: With all the Jason Heyward buzz this spring, everyone is forgetting about Austin Jackson. It’s easy to see why the Detroit Tigers passed up signing Curtis Granderson again: Jackson is practically a carbon copy. With 43 steals over last two seasons, he could be a great addition to your team for stolen bases. Like Granderson, he also has a power stroke. Austin Jackson is sneaking up on everyone, but it won’t be long until everyone knows about this kid.
Erick Aybar SS ANA: Did you know Aybar hit .328 with six triples and eight steals over his last 70 games? Now that Chone Figgins is out of town, I expect Aybar to be the new lead-off hitter for the Los Angeles Angels. Figgins pretty much had the green light all of last season, so expect Aybar to also be a menace to opposing pitchers. He might get caught stealing a little too often, but hopefully your league doesn’t count those. Not only does Aybar have the potential to steal 25 or more bases this year, he will help your batting average and give you some home runs too.
Ángel Pagán OF NYM: There has been recent speculation about Jose Reyes hitting third in the New York Mets lineup when he comes back. Why do you think this is? My guess is that there are two reasons. One reason is that Reyes won’t be capable of stealing 70 bases like he used to. The other reason is Ángel Pagán. Pagán secretly had a great season last year leading off for the Mets after Reyes went down. His numbers do not suggest he will hit .300 again this season (he strikes out almost twice as much as he walks), but .285 is not too much to ask for. He also offers you a nice blend of power and speed. I am expecting around 12 homers with 20 stolen bases this year from Pagan, definitely welcome numbers on any fantasy team.