Some Very, Very Late Sources of Homers and Steals

In my most recent post, I lamented that I waited too long to take Greg Allen in my TGFBI draft, even though his ADP is well outside the top 300. It was as crushing a blow as one can have in Round 18 of a 15-team draft, as players with the potential to steal 20-plus bases are hard to come by, even in the earlier rounds. THE BAT projects 22 players to steal at least 20 bases this season, and Steamer projects only 19 players to reach that threshold. (ATC is more optimistic, admitting 29 players into the 20-plus projected steals club.)

Worse yet, a number of those players are across-the-board contributors (most notably Mookie Betts, Jose Ramirez, Ronald Acuna Jr., Trea Turner and Francisco Lindor) who will be long gone before the time you realize you need to catch up on steals. The reality is that it’s hard to make up for lost ground in stolen bases in the final rounds of your drafts, but that’s precisely the time you can toss up a Hail Mary. There are a handful of players who not only could give you 15 steals, but some moderate power as well, making it more worth your while to target them.

If you find yourself in that situation, here are six 15-15 candidates you can put in your queue. None is a sure thing; that’s why they will probably be available late, even in 15-team drafts. Each, however, gives you a shot at adding to your steals total while getting some help with homers, too.

Jeff McNeil, 2B, Mets (Fantasy Pros ADP: 390)

Playing time shouldn’t be a concern for McNeil, who is slated to play the outfield but can also be used at second and third base when needed (and given the injuries to Jed Lowrie and Todd Frazier, he may be needed at third). The bigger question is how McNeil’s power and speed will play in his first full season in the majors. He hit for power at Triple-A Las Vegas (.232 ISO) and Double-A Binghamton (.299 ISO), but not as nearly as much once he got to Queens (three home runs in 248 plate appearances). Between all three stops, he stole 13 bases in 14 attempts, including seven with the Mets.

Franchy Cordero, OF, Padres (Fantasy Pros ADP: 414)

The power/speed combo is much less in doubt for Cordero, who last season ranked near the top of both the Statcast exit velocity and sprint speed leaderboards. The bigger question is where he fits in on the Padres’ ridiculously crowded outfield depth chart. Also, should Cordero win a starting job, he could limit his chances to pile up counting stats unless he whittles down a career 39.1 percent strikeout rate. Even so, he was on pace last season for a potential 20-20 campaign before surgery to remove a bone spur in his elbow effectively put an end to his season. Of the players on this list, Cordero easily has the greatest chance to provide substantial help in both the home run and stolen base categories.

Leonys Martin, OF, Indians (FantasyPros ADP: 421)

Martin has recovered from a bacterial infection that kept him in the ICU for several days last August, and he will return this season as the Indians’ regular center fielder. His 2018 season, spent mostly with the Tigers, was a breakout for power production (.170 ISO), though his stolen base production (7 steals in 353 plate appearances) was down significantly from previous seasons. However, with a little improvement in his stolen base pace and no more than minor regression in his power numbers, Martin could turn in a 15-15 campaign.

Alex Gordon, OF, Royals (FantasyPros ADP: 472)

It’s been five years since Gordon has topped the 15-homer mark, but he made strides in 2018 by posting his highest average exit velocity on flyballs and line drives (93.4 mph) since Statcast has been recording these data. It still resulted in just 13 home runs for Gordon, but xStats put his xHR at 14.8 (so close to 15!). The 15 steals part of the 15-15 combo may be the tougher hurdle for Gordon, who stole 12 bases last year. Ned Yost tends to be aggressive in managing the Royals’ running game, so just maybe Gordon can get enough opportunities to approach 15 stolen bases.

Adam Engel, OF, White Sox (FantasyPros ADP: N/A)

Engel cleared the 15-steal hurdle last season as the White Sox’s primary center fielder, and he should fill the same role again in 2019. As one of the speediest players in the majors, Engel could improve from last year’s 16 stolen bases into 20-plus territory. He strikes out too much and doesn’t possess a high degree of raw power, but he’s not completely devoid of it either (91.7 mph average EV FB/LD, 32.1 percent hard-hit rate in 2018). Engel has a strong tendency to pull flyballs, so he can make the most of hitter-friendly Guaranteed Rate Field. He will still probably fall short of 15 homers, but he is a late-round speed source who could provide more power than his projections would suggest.

Keon Broxton, OF, Mets (FantasyPros ADP: 354)

Broxton is typically getting drafted earlier than any of the other hitters on this list, yet his prospects for playing time are probably the scarcest. Then again, even when he didn’t play regularly with the Brewers, Broxton showed he could help fantasy owners with homers and steals. Just two seasons ago, he joined the 20-20 club while logging only 463 plate appearances. The year before that, Broxton amassed 23 stolen bases in just over half the amount of playing time. I am still skeptical that he will play enough to have a 15-15 season in his Mets debut, but few players can produce more in these categories with limited plate appearances.

We hoped you liked reading Some Very, Very Late Sources of Homers and Steals by Al Melchior!

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Al Melchior has been writing about Fantasy baseball and sim games since 2000, and his work has appeared at CBSSports.com, BaseballHQ, Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster and FanRagSports. He has also participated in Tout Wars' mixed auction league since 2013. You can follow Al on Twitter @almelchiorbb and find more of his work at almelchior.com.

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feslenraster
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feslenraster

I like both Franchy Cordero and Franmil Reyes, too bad they have a bunch of guys vying for PT there.

dl80
Member
Member
dl80

Cordero and Reyes would be a good platoon pair, with Cordero against righties and Reyes against lefties. Or Margot could continue to be a bust. Or Myers could get shipped out.