Sleeper week continues. Monday and Tuesday were dedicated to deep sleepers. Today and tomorrow we’ll look into stolen base threats. Most of these guys are waiver wire fodder in standard leagues. You should be able to stream them. Certain notably steals threats like Jose Altuve and Billy Burns were excluded because they aren’t sleepers in any sense of the word.
We talked about Rickard yesterday. With his high contact rate and plate patience, there’s a chance he’ll reach base with frequency. If so, he has enough speed to steal 20 to 30 bases. He’s more likely to take a base if he’s batting at the bottom of the order. The middle of the lineup has too many power threats to risk making outs on the bases.
The Rays outfield
The Rays like an athletic outfield. Four players figure to receive regular work – Steven Souza, Desmond Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier, and Brandon Guyer. They’re all 20 stolen base threats over a full season. They all have other charms too. Kiermaier will start daily while the other three will play mix and match. Corey Dickerson could steal some outfield innings too, but he won’t be stealing bases.
Depending on your league, Hicks might go unnoticed or be highly coveted. He’ll open the season on the Yankees bench behind three highly breakable, old outfielders. Hicks finally tapped into his potential last season with 11 home runs and 13 stolen bases over 390 plate appearances. While he had steep platoon splits, his plate discipline numbers suggest they’re deceptive. He mashed left-handed pitching, but his walk, strikeout, and batted ball numbers imply he was better versus right-handed pitching.
Ramirez is one of the sleepiest names on this list – and for good reason. He doesn’t have a starting role at present, but it’s not hard to imagine him finding regular reps at third base or in the outfield. An injury to Francisco Lindor or Jason Kipnis would also create an opportunity. Ramirez suffered through a .232 BABIP last season. If he’s reaching base at a normal rate, he has 25 to 30 stolen base ability over a full season.
Naquin and Davis are interesting for various reasons. Naquin, a former top pick, had fallen off the prospect radar prior to this spring. Most analysts don’t expect him to succeed in the majors despite his March breakout. He has 15 to 20 stolen base ability if he plays daily (he won’t).
Davis has spent most of the last decade as a cheap steals solution, but his speed may be in decline. He stole only 18 bases in 370 plate appearances.
Royals – Jarrod Dyson
Before Dyson hit the shelf, he was unusually popular. Clearly, people salivated over the potential for 60 stolen bases in a full season of work. Let’s recall he’ll turn 32 mid-season. Speed does age, especially when the player is recovering from a core muscle injury. He’s an excellent streaming candidate for steals, but he’ll hurt you in every other category.
Dyson’s replacement, Paulo Orlando, had a good stolen base track record in the minors. He stole 34 bases in 554 plate appearances in 2014.
Gose will open the season as the Tigers starting center fielder while Cameron Maybin recovers. Maybin is far from a sure thing so Gose could play more than we initially expected. The 25-year-old stole 23 bases in 535 plate appearances last season. Between a high strikeout rate and limited power, he’s only useful as a stream pickup.
Unlike many of the others on this list, Rosario can contribute to all five standard categories. He’s a 10 steal threat with double digit home run power and decent run production. Those of you in OBP leagues will want to steer clear.
Rollins may very well be done as a useful major league player, but I’m not ready to throw in the towel. Even in a terrible season, he hit 13 home runs and stole 12 bases. With U.S. Cellular Field on his side, there’s upside for another 20/20 campaign.
Of course, Saladino may have something to say about that. The White Sox were reportedly comfortable relying upon Saladino as their primary shortstop. Last season at Triple-A, he stole 25 bases in 231 plate appearances. That overstates the potential of his 50 grade speed – he’s just good at reading pitchers. His eight stolen bases in 254 major league plate appearances is a better representation of his potential. I think he can improve his strikeout rate and on base percentage.
Prior to 2015, Gentry was one of my favorite streaming options in the league. He’s made a career of reaching base against left-handed pitching and stealing bases. In 2014, he swiped 20 bases in 258 plate appearances. A Gentry start had about a one in three chance to include a stolen base. He spent most of 2015 in the minors and ran at a much less impressive rate (25 steals in 446 PA).
When it comes to rankings, Marte is far from a sleeper. However, I’ve still seen him slip to discount prices in some drafts. With patience, contact skills, and plenty of speed, Marte should eventually seal a role atop the lineup. He has the potential to take 20 to 30 bags.
Martin played his way out of regular action, and the M’s hope to get a rebound out of him. He stole 67 bases between 2013 and 2014. At 28 years old, he’s young enough to have rebound season in his system. The bigger issue is the lack of power and contact skills.
If Marte isn’t batting first, it’s because Aoki is holding him off. He’s a low-power, extremely high contact hitter. Given his absent power, he walks at a relatively high rate (7.7 percent). The average and OBP threat will probably steal around 15 bases in 450 plate appearances.
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