Baseball is back! It is, it’s true. Yasiel Puig is hitting ridiculous bombs and Jose Fernandez is throwing ridiculous breaking balls and everything. Guess what else has happened three days in? This daily fantasy player has had a night where everything went well and one where everything went wrong. Such is life in the world of daily fantasy, which is why playing daily is nearly a must – stuff is gonna happen in a single day, like Aaron Harang busting your four-player Milwaukee Brewers stack with an inexplicable 6.2 innings of two-hit ball. Anyway, keep with it. Now let’s look at some stolen base stuff.
At times, you may be tempted to pick on individual catchers who are bad at throwing our baserunners, assuming they’re an easy target for speedy players. It’s not a bad idea, but some interesting research from Max Weinstein last summer showed that perhaps we should look at the pitcher instead. As Max wrote:
Given our findings, it is reasonable to say, at the least, that the pitcher is more responsible than we conventionally think when it comes to catching base-runners stealing — largely due to the fact that we know that a pitcher’s CS%, isolated or overall, correlates highly with CS% for the battery as a whole and twice as much as a catcher’s CS%.
With that in mind, I pulled last year’s stolen base allowed “leaders” on the mound and behind the plate. Pitchers who had runners attempt more than 0.75 stolen bases per 27 batters faced and had a caught stealing percentage below 35 percentage are listed (minimum 100 innings). Catchers who had runners attempt more than 0.8 stolen bases per nine innings and had a caught stealing percentage below 30 percent are listed (minimum 400 innings).
So those are the guys to look for early on (though I should probably do a data pull that includes more years), and if you can find a battery with members of both lists, it will probably be worth throwing out a speedster.
The Daily Five
Corey Dickerson – $6,784 This is really a “whoever starts out of the Rockies outfield super-platoon” choice, and you could almost cross your fingers for a cheaper option (luckily this is an early game, so you can adjust as needed). However, Dickerson is yet to grab a start and bats left, so he seems a likely play. The Rockies draw the Marlins, and while Jacob Turner had a nice rookie season, he also did a poor job controlling the running game. His new battery-mate Jarrod Saltalamacchia was one of baseball’s worst in that regard, so the opportunity is present to get the running game going. Dickerson only boasts low-double digit steal potential, but this seems like as good a time as any to get number one.
Chris Archer – $12,950 Fresh off a brand new contract, Archer will be looking to impress, against a Blue Jays lineup that isn’t all that intimidating. They promise to be better against righties than lefties, but Archer still has four more or less guaranteed outs at the bottom of the lineup (okay, more like two, maybe three). At a below-average starter price on the day, that’s a worthy gamble.
Yordano Ventura – $6,981 I don’t care if it’s the Tigers – I, like many, have hitched my wagon to Ventura and the rocket launcher that stands in place of his right arm. As the lowest priced pitcher on the board, it’s tough not to dial him up.
Pirates Lefty Stack
Jason Hammel toes the rubber for the Cubs, and even though the hitting conditions aren’t ideal, few games boast strong conditions today. Such is April. Anyway, Hammel allowed a .381 wOBA to left-handed batters last season and struck out fewer than 15 percent of them, a trend that wasn’t present in 2012 but has otherwise been pronounced for his career. Two players in particular stand out, though you may want to go with four.
Travis Snider – $3,780 – a low-cost option who can hit a righty, particularly one who throws changeups.
Pedro Alvarez – $5,653 – checking in well below the average price, Alvarez’s boom-or-bust profile looks far more likely to be the former on Thursday.
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Blake Murphy is a freelance sportswriter based out of Toronto. Formerly of the Score, he's the managing editor at Raptors Republic and frequently pops up at Sportsnet, Vice, and around here. Follow him on Twitter @BlakeMurphyODC.