Steamer vs NFBC ADP – Stolen Base Bargains

Unless you plan on attempting to punt categories at your 2019 draft, at some point, one must acquire stolen bases. If you plan on completely ignoring the SB category – you can stop reading this article now. But for the rest of us, here is a look at where some potential bargains for speed may present itself in drafts.

For these draft value comparisons, I look at:

  • The player ranks as computed by the FanGraphs Auction Calculator with Steamer projections (standard NFBC 15 team roto league settings).
  • The current NFBC ADP (of Draft Championship leagues from December 1, 2018 to present).

In 2018, only 4 players stole over 35 bases (Merrifield 45, Turner 43, M. Smith 40, Villar 35). 7 additional players stole between 30-34 bases (Hamilton 34, J. Ramirez 34, Marte 33, Mondesi 32, Betts 30, Cain 30, Gordon 30). This draft season, anyone with a stolen base projection of 15 or more is going to catch my eye.

Let’s talk about players with a substantial SB projection:

1st & 2nd Round Speedsters
Trea Turner 597 17 96 69 41 0.287 10
Whit Merrifield 599 12 81 59 31 0.275 29
Mookie Betts 586 29 115 92 26 0.303 2
Ronald Acuna Jr. 591 29 95 81 25 0.279 6
Jose Ramirez 553 27 92 96 23 0.284 3
Francisco Lindor 598 30 103 90 21 0.286 4
Mike Trout 520 40 118 108 20 0.300 1
Trevor Story 553 31 84 96 19 0.271 20
Jose Altuve 585 17 89 83 18 0.302 15
Javier Baez 557 28 76 88 17 0.269 13
Christian Yelich 573 27 98 88 16 0.296 8
Steamer Projections with NFBC Overall ADP

The first thing to note, is that a large number of “speed players” come from the first two rounds alone. In fact, 11 out of the top 36 SB threats as projected by Steamer are being selected as top 30 overall players.

If you miss out on one of the above players in the first two rounds, here are the other players available with a projection of 15 SBs or more:

The players above are ordered by their difference in Steamer Hitter Rank versus ADP Hitter Rank. Differences highlighted in GREEN are the players who are going later than their Steamer values indicate that they should; differences in RED show the overvalued players.

Speed is at a premium this year, so most of the players on this list appear as overvalued. A player who has a difference between Steamer Rank and ADP Rank close to nil (roughly -9 to +9), would mean that the player can usually be acquired in or close to the same round that Steamer values the player. A large negative difference means that you need to reach to buy the speedster, and a positive difference indicates that you can wait a bit (the player is a bargain).

Let’s investigate a few players on this list further:

Jarrod Dyson (Steamer Hitter Rank: 161, ADP Hitter Rank: 336, Overall ADP: 573)

According to the Steamer projections, no speedster has a larger expected profit than Jarrod Dyson. Currently on Roster Resource, Dyson is listed as the starting center fielder for the Arizona ballclub. With A.J. Pollock likely walking away from the D-Backs, and without any OF free agent signings – Dyson will have a chance to play and could accumulate lots of stolen bases should he stick.

In just 237 PA last year – Dyson swiped 16 bags, caught just 3 times. With 31 singles and 27 walks, Dyson had the green light, attempting a steal in nearly one-third of his times on first.

His LD/GB/FB splits (23/46/31) all look similar to the previous year (19/47/34), yet his BABIP dropped from .285 to .216. This may indicate that his very low .189 BA [and .282 OBP] were somewhat unlucky – and he should bounce back a bit in 2019.

The key to Dyson’s value is his playing time … if he plays – he will steal and be immensely valuable for roto. At an NFBC ADP of 573, he is essentially free. Take this starting CF as your last bench pick in roto formats.

Jake Bauers (Steamer Hitter Rank: 99, ADP Hitter Rank: 157, Overall ADP: 257)

The Indians didn’t trade a few key pieces of theirs for a bench player. Bauers will play and will likely hit somewhere in the top two-thirds of the Tribe’s everyday lineup.

In 2018, the then-rookie amassed an impressive 48 R / 48 RBI performance with 10 dingers to boot. Bauers may not hit for an exciting batting average, but he has the tools and a chance for a 20/15 sophomore season.

If you believe the mid-70s run production stats that Steamer is projecting, this is a solid player who is going now in the 17th round of drafts. At that opportunity cost, that’s a great value for these possible 15+ bags, and with some luck – a possible 5 category contributor.

Adam Engel (Steamer Hitter: 307, ADP Hitter: 339, Overall ADP: 576)

I mentioned Engel last year, as a potential power/speed combo player. He didn’t display much power or contact in ’18, but he certainly displayed his speed, swiping 16 bags. He had consistently stolen 30+ bases in the minors each year, so his speed upside is real.

The White Sox outfield composition isn’t clear at the moment, but for now, Engel is in the mix. With his superb defense, he will at least get a few shots early on in the season. If your fantasy team can stomach a sub .225 BA, is desperate for steals, or plays in an AL only or deep mixed league, Engel is worth monitoring – both during April, and should there be any Chicago Southside outfielder injury.

Starling Marte (Steamer Hitter: 15, ADP Hitter: 25, Overall ADP: 38)

Marte is one of the most valuable overall players on this list. He also has possible 40 SB upside. Steamer values him as the 15th best hitter in this format, yet he is being selected on average in the 3rd round as the 25th hitter off the boards.

Marte played a full season in ‘18, his first since ‘15, and his power and speed seemed to have re-emerge. He traded a few line drives for some fly balls in his hitting profile, and his HR/FB has stabilized close right around his career figures of about 13-14%. At age 30, he should be primed for something close to a repeat.

With 5-tool capabilities, if you miss out on snagging Whit Merrifield, Marte is an excellent 3rd round building block player to give you that solid speed base. Or skip Merrifield, and just take Marte a round later.

Dee Gordon (Steamer Hitter: 73, ADP Hitter: 69, Overall ADP: 111)

Gordon last year at this time was going in the late 2nd rounds of many drafts. What has changed this year?

His batting profile looks similar:

2017 LD/GB/FB – 23/58/20     vs.     2018 LD/GB/FB – 22/55/22

His Stolen Base Attempts per Singles & Walks [a proxy for how often a player steals when reaching first base] was slightly lower but similar – 33% vs 39%.

There was some bad BABIP luck (.304 vs .354), as well as a less successful stolen base rate (71% vs. 79%). My biggest concern is that his walk rate plunged in 2018 (just 9 BBs in 488 PAs, yikes!).

It looks like Gordon might have been playing through injury in ’18. If that was the case, and his health has recovered – or if he just slightly rebounds – he could push his SB totals up to over 40 once again.

Steamer is projecting a conservative 37 SBs for Gordon, and even at that figure his value is appropriate for his current ADP ranking. For a player who has 3rd round upside, an 8th round selection seems like a great place to take a stab at a possible profit.

Monitor Gordon during Spring Training. If he looks healthy and is stealing once again – I would imagine that his ADP will quickly rise. Be ahead of the curve if that should happen.

Ariel is the 2019 FSWA Baseball Writer of the Year. He is the creator of the ATC (Average Total Cost) Projection System. Ariel was ranked by FantasyPros as the #1 fantasy baseball expert in 2019. His ATC Projections were ranked as the #1 most accurate projection system in 2019. Ariel also writes for CBS Sports, SportsLine, RotoBaller, and is the host of the Beat the Shift Podcast (@Beat_Shift_Pod). Ariel is a member of the inaugural Tout Wars Draft & Hold league, a member of the inaugural Mixed LABR Auction league and plays high stakes contests in the NFBC. Ariel is the 2020 Tout Wars Head to Head League Champion. Ariel Cohen is a fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and the Society of Actuaries (SOA). He is a Vice President of Risk Management for a large international insurance and reinsurance company. Follow Ariel on Twitter at @ATCNY.

newest oldest most voted

Great content, Ariel. As a self-proclaimed Excel nerd, I’m quite enamored with the clean look of your spreadsheet above! Looks great!


Also, meant to ask if/when we should expect the release of ATC projections for the 2019 season? 🙂


A quick look at your Twitter timeline answered my question quite well. Apologies for the ignorant question!