Stealing steals

As we approach the last few days of the season, roster activity increases to a frenzy, especially in daily transaction leagues. The transactions that occur are often centered on pressure points within the standings. Most commonly, you will teams behind the innings pace begin to spot start pitchers in an attempt to make up ground in wins and strikeouts.

In the offensive categories, it’s hard to do this because production in categories day to day is not guaranteed and there is limited opportunity to create an opportunity advantage and gain extra at-bats over your opponents. The one offensive category in which you can make a last ditch, concerted effort to nab a few points is often stolen bases.

Stolen bases are a good target for several reasons, which I’ll run through quickly. First, they are a low-volume stat, so that means the category is often close and a few steals could result in a few points in the standings. Second, there are more players who are above average at stealing bases on the waiver wire than there are in any other category, since many of them don’t provide much value elsewhere. Third, base stealing is fairly context driven. While certain parks or opposing pitchers may make homers more likely, lame duck catchers drastically increase the willingness of opposing players to steal.

What I’m going to do here is to identify some full time catchers who are especially poor at preventing stolen bases and the teams those catchers are matched up against through the rest of the season. Then, based on that schedule, I will try to identify a couple of players likely available in many fantasy leagues who may swipe several bags over the last dozen or so games and maybe swing your fortunes in your league.

John Buck 18.7% WAS ATL MIL WAS
A.J. Pierzynski 20.4% KC CLE KC TOR
Brian McCann 20.7% NYM FLA WAS PHIL
Ronny Paulino/Josh Thole 21.8%/19.4% ATL STL PHIL CIN
Rod Barajas 23% PIT SF SD ARI
Jonathan Lucroy 24.5% CIN CHC FLA PIT

Obviously, any player with above average base-stealing potential has an increased likelihood of stealing a few bases when matched up against any of these teams. If we look at this a bit more institutionally, we can identify teams that have more than one series against catchers unable to shut down the running game. Washington, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh all appear multiple times. The Nationals lead the way with three of four remaining series against catchers with caught-stealing rates below 25 percent.

Here are some players who may be available in your league and might be able to take advantage of this dynamic over the final dozen games of the season. Yahoo! league ownership percentage is in parenthesis

Ian Desmond (57 percent)
Danny Espinosa (45 percent)
Jordan Schafer (2 percent)
Jose Tabata (39 percent)

Other players who don’t benefit from this context, but who are owned in fewer than 20 percent of leagues and could provide a boost of speed down the stretch include:

Dee Gordon (15 percent)
Ben Revere (3 percent)
Jason Bourgeois (6 percent) (His playing time has been spotty recently.)

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10 years ago

Love this article… and perfect for me, as I am just 2 steals behind for the lead in steals. 

Any other players? All but Bourgeois are taken (I already have Gordon and Schafer).



Jeffrey Gross
10 years ago

Tabata shut down for the season

Jeffrey Gross
10 years ago

but great article. i just got schafer

John K
10 years ago

Tabata? -1 NSB since returning?  Nice