I have spent the last few weeks rewatching Breaking Bad. For those who have never watched it, it is arguably the greatest show of all time. It is the classic story of a high school chemistry teacher that gets terminal cancer and becomes a drug kingpin to make sure he leaves something behind for his family. Let’s be honest, the story of Walter White could be any of us, minus the drugs, Mexican cartels, violence, terminal cancer, money, and ability to make thermite in our kitchen.
So, you may be asking yourself “why am I even talking about Breaking Bad in an article about speed?” The easy answer would be, like I said above, I just watched the show and felt the overwhelming desire to talk about it with someone because the people living in my household have never seen it. Also, speed is also a street name for methamphetamine, the drug that Walter White and Jesse Pinkman manufacture and sell to make their millions. Also, as a recovering alcoholic and drug addict and practicing substance abuse counselor, I know the struggle it takes to find what ails you. In this case, it’s stolen bases.
We have all read about or experienced the scarcity in stolen bases in 2015. Only five players stole more than 30 bases last season and only 23 stole more than 20. In contrast with that, 18 players hit more than 30 home runs and 52 players hit 20 or more. There were more 40 home run hitters than there were 30+ steal guys. So, needless to say, speed is harder and more important to find. With all of us jonesing for swipes, we need to find those guys on the cheap because we can’t all draft the Altuve’s of the world.
Below is a list of cheaper stolen base threats categorized by some of the non-Walter White characters in Breaking Bad.
The Mike Ehrmantraut Group- The old guy that people don’t take as seriously as they should, but he offers the production you ask for… every time.
Jarrod Dyson, KC, OF: Dyson has had four consecutive seasons of 25+ stolen bases without getting more than 290 plate appearances in a season since 2012. This year he should enter the year as a starting outfielder. At worst he has the strong side of a platoon with Paulo Orlando. Currently he has an ADP of 299.70 on NFBC and a preseason rank of 834 on Yahoo.
Rajai Davis, CLE, OF: 2015 was the first season since breaking into the Major Leagues that Davis didn’t record 20 stolen bases. He is 35-years-old and probably better served as an off the bench or weak-side platoon option. However, without Michael Brantley having a real timetable to return, he will start the season with a clear path to playing time. He could easily offer early season stolen bases before stud prospects Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier possibly enter the picture in the second half of the season. Currently, he has an ADP of 339.36 on NFBC and a preseason rank of 352 on Yahoo.
The Badger and Skinny Pete Group- Almost always together, these guys aren’t extremely valuable, but they provide the perfect platoon. They do have potential, but they’ll probably never reach it. They are mostly comedic relief:
Cameron Maybin, DET, OF: Home-Sweet-Home. For those who have forgotten, Maybin was a former top prospect for the Tigers who was the centerpiece for the Miguel Cabrera deal in 2007. While he does hit better against right-handers than lefties, he still is better against lefties than potential platoon-mate Anthony Gose. Could steal 20 bags if given the opportunity, but Gose is the much better value at this point. Currently, he has an ADP of 235.38 on NFBC and a preseason rank of 323 on Yahoo.
Anthony Gose, DET, OF: Gose was acquired by the Tigers last offseason and provided 20+ stolen bases in 140 games. While his plate appearances are sure to go down with Maybin in town, he should still provide around 20 stolen bases again this year as long as his defense doesn’t regress as it did a bit last season. His value is at rock bottom; currently, he has an ADP of 355.50 on NFBC and a preseason rank of 435 on Yahoo.
The Marie Schrader Group- Most people see her as useless to the plot, but she has a full time role none the less and offers enough value to the storyline. Don’t forget she has a compulsion to steal, no matter the situation:
Jonathan Villar, MIL, SS/3B: Villar has stolen at least 34 bases between the majors and minors in each of his last six seasons. The trade of Jean Segura to the Diamondbacks paves the way for him to be the opening day shortstop. While, there is some concern that Orlando Arcia could find his way onto the Major League roster at some point, Villar’s positional flexibility should give him enough plate appearances to make him a cheap source of speed in 2016. In all reality, the Brewers have no real reason to call up Arcia in what should be a rebuilding year for the club. Currently, Villar has an ADP of 412.86 on NFBC and a preseason rank of 1084 on Yahoo.
Odubel Herrera, PHI: A Rule 5 pick last offseason, Herrera surprised everyone offering a nice power speed combo off of the waiver wire. Still underrated coming into this season he has double digit power and 20 stolen base potential. In the minors he has shown 30+ stolen base upside. Sure, being on the Phillies is not the sexiest of spots, but he still only 24 years old and could still get better. Currently, he has an ADP of 251.53 on NFBC and a preseason rank of 270 on Yahoo.
Cesar Hernandez, PHI, 2B: Hernandez broke out onto the scene last season out of nowhere, stealing 19 bags in 127 games. While he has a limited upside, there is no real competition for his starting spot in Philadelphia. He could easily swipe 20-30 bags this year from the middle infield which has value in most formats. Currently, he has an ADP of 341.09 on NFBC and a preseason rank of 577 on Yahoo.
The Saul Goodman Group- There is much potential here. You love parts of his character, but he just needs a few breaks to be a star. Maybe he’ll get his own spin-off series, where he can have the ability to shine because if he does put it all together, it could be amazing for everyone involved:
Dalton Pompey, TOR, OF: Coming into last season, the hype on Pompey went a little out of control. However, he is the prime example of a post-hype sleeper. The emergence of Kevin Pillar makes the path to playing time a little more arduous, but before last season Pillar had struggled against right handed pitching and projected left fielder Michael Saunders struggles against lefties. With a nice spring, the switching hitting Pompey could fill those platoons and be on his way to close to a full season worth of plate appearances. Currently he has an ADP of 346.95 on NFBC and a preseason rank of 1166 on Yahoo.
Ketel Marte, SS SEA: No longer a sleeper due to his call up last season and the shallowness of shortstop, Marte does still offer decent speed potential at a still reasonable price. He has stolen at least 20 bases between the Majors and Minors in the last three seasons. If you decide to wait at shortstop he could be a decent buy on draft day as long as his hype doesn’t get any more out of control. Currently he has an ADP of 119.59 on NFBC and a preseason rank of 1090 on Yahoo.
Rymer Liriano, MIL, OF: Now that Khris Davis is out of town, do we really think Kirk Nieuwenhuis is the answer in Milwaukee? Liriano has a nice prospect pedigree and the tools to be a very good outfielder for the Brewers. While he hasn’t shown the 50+ stolen base upside that we saw in 2011, in the last two seasons he has still produced at least 18 swipes each year in the minors. The Brewers have no reason not to see what they can get from him this year as they aren’t expected to be competitive and top outfield prospect Brett Phillips still needs more seasoning. Currently he has an ADP of 606.07 on NFBC and a preseason rank of 1268 on Yahoo.
The Hank Schrader Group- He shows up and produces most of the time. It may not be pretty and there is a chance that his better days are behind him, but if he keeps working at it, he might just prove all the doubters wrong:
Leonys Martin, SEA, OF: Even in a year where everything fell apart for Martin, he still managed to steal 14 bases in 310 Major League plate appearances. The trade to Seattle gives him a clear path to playing time. It may come with a platoon, but with other platoon risks like Adam Lind and Seth Smith it is possible that Martin gets the opportunity to play against lefties as well. I would bank on 15 stolen bases this season with the opportunity for double that if he can rebound to pre-2015 form. Currently he has an ADP of 329.13 on NFBC and a preseason rank of 967 on Yahoo.
Jean Segura, ARI, SS: Since being traded to Arizona a lot of fantasy analysts have crapped on Segura and his value coming into this season. Sure he doesn’t walk much at all and the power many, including myself, projected never came, but there is still a lot to be encouraged by especially in the speed department. First, only the Reds stole more bases in 2015 than the Diamondbacks. Secondly, in spite of the fact he doesn’t walk much, he currently is projected to bat second in between Pollock and Goldschmidt. We know he has 40+ stolen bases potential. Don’t forget about the tragic loss of his child two seasons ago. It is impossible to imagine how difficult it would be to show up and play a game after that kind of loss. Hopefully what he needs is a change of scenery. If you are looking for someone to root for, this is the guy. Currently he has an ADP of 199.59 on NFBC and a preseason rank of 217 on Yahoo.
The Jesse Pinkman Group- You don’t always know what you’re going to end up getting with him. He is young and should be the next great thing, but he needs to mature a little:
Tim Anderson, CWS, SS: I will preface this blurb with the fact that I do still believe Ian Desmond could end up with the White Sox, which would hurt Anderson’s chances of coming up. However, Anderson is worth a stash in deeper leagues. He has plus speed and shown the necessary defensive skills to stick at shortstop. The 22-year-old stole 49 bases last season in AA and could push for a midseason call up if he continues to rake in AAA. No one thinks Saladino is the solution at shortstop and he will just be keeping the seat warm for one of the best fantasy prospects in the Minor Leagues. This year’s crop of potential rookies is not nearly as exciting as last season’s but Anderson could be extremely impactful if he gets the call. Currently he has an ADP of 428.31 on NFBC and a preseason rank of 1323 on Yahoo.
Alen Hanson, PIT, 2B: Another middle infield speedster, Hanson should make his debut around mid season as well. There are some that believe he could actually crack the opening day roster, but with Jung-Ho Kang expected to be ready around opening day, I would doubt the penny-pinching Pirates promote him so early. He has averaged over 27 stolen bases in the minors since being drafted. He is another guy that could be useful as a stash in deep league for the second half of the season or sooner. Currently he has an ADP of 566.81 on NFBC and a preseason rank of 1349 on Yahoo.
The Skyler White Group- No one really likes her that much, but she has to be talked about (I guess). Somehow, she figures out a way to be part of the conversation, but I bet Walter (the Reds) will end up wishing that maybe he hadn’t gotten rid of the one he was with (Frazier) before her:
Jose Peraza, CIN, 2B: I am not the biggest Peraza believer and there isn’t a clear path to playing time until Brandon Phillips allows the Reds to move him, but the kid is fast. The Reds must love him because he was the key piece in the Todd Frazier deal and they would probably move Phillips for a bag of used baseballs to open up a spot for Peraza. He has shown the ability to steal 60+ bags in the majors and could fill a super utility role for Cincinnati. No team stole more bases in 2015 than the Reds and even if he doesn’t make the opening day roster, he is still worth drafting in deeper formats as a possible second-half contributor. Currently he has an ADP of 306.04 on NFBC and a preseason rank of 1259 on Yahoo.
Justin is the co-host on The Sleeper and The Bust Podcast and writes for Rotographs covering the Roto Riteup as well as random topics that float into his juvenile brain. In addition to his work at Rotographs, Justin is the lead fantasy writer/analyst and co-owner for FriendswithFantasyBenefits.com, owner of The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational, and a fantasy football and baseball writer for Fantasy Alarm. He is also a certified addiction treatment counselor. Follow Justin on Twitter @JustinMasonFWFB.