Streaming for Stolen Bases by Pitcher

Have you ever had an idea that seemed crazy? Or maybe tried something with no real clue how it would pan out? Well, this is one of those times.

I listen to the Sleeper and the Bust Podcast, as well as a ton of other podcasts, a bunch. One of the things that Paul Sporer has said over the course of the last couple of years that has really resonated with me is how stolen bases are often a matter of opportunity for certain players. Most players are fantastic overall athletes and need to just be given an opportunity to steal to accumulate stats in that department. While I began factoring that into my preseason ranks more this season, a few weeks ago I began to wonder if this had an in season application as well.

So, I came up with a hypothesis: One should be able to stream for stolen bases by identifying pitchers or catchers that allow them.

I have no idea if this will work and unfortunately I was unable to get catcher POP times and pitcher delivery times because Statcast has not made them public (which was extremely frustrating and I spent way too much time attempting to do.) I assume, if there is a practical application for this, it will work best in leagues with daily transactions or DFS, but in an era of fantasy baseball where everyone has access to all of the same information it is worth examining new strategies to attempt to gain a competitive advantage of your competition.

So let’s take a look at pitchers first. Here are the pitchers with the most stolen bases allowed so far this season:

Stolen Bases Allowed By Pitcher 2016
Rank Name Team Pos G GS Inn SB
1 Noah Syndergaard NYM P 11 10 63.2 15
2 Ubaldo Jimenez BAL P 10 10 52.1 11
3 Anibal Sanchez DET P 11 11 56.2 10
4 Mat Latos CHW P 10 10 56 10
5 Jimmy Nelson MIL P 11 11 72 10
6 Jake Arrieta CHC P 11 11 75 9
7 Mike Pelfrey DET P 10 10 52.2 8
8 Michael Pineda NYY P 10 10 53.1 8
9 James Shields SDP P 11 11 67.1 8
10 Tanner Roark WSN P 11 11 70 8
http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=p&stats=fld&lg=all&qual=y&type=0&season=2016&month=0&season1=2016&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=17,d

Now without having done this before, I want to make sure that I am not falling prey to too small of a sample size. So let’s look at the pitchers that allowed the most SBs the last two seasons:

Stolen Bases Allowed By Pitcher 2015
# Name Team Pos G GS Inn SB
1 Jon Lester CHC P 32 32 205 44
2 Tyson Ross SDP P 33 33 196 37
3 A.J. Burnett PIT P 26 26 164 33
4 Jake Arrieta CHC P 33 33 229 27
5 Gerrit Cole PIT P 32 32 208 25
6 Cole Hamels – – – P 32 32 212.1 24
7 Jimmy Nelson MIL P 30 30 177.1 24
8 Ubaldo Jimenez BAL P 32 32 184 22
9 Rick Porcello BOS P 28 28 172 18
10 Edinson Volquez KCR P 34 33 200.1 18
11 Shelby Miller ATL P 33 33 205.1 18
12 Alfredo Simon DET P 31 31 187 17
13 Hector Santiago LAA P 33 32 180.2 17
14 Corey Kluber CLE P 32 32 222 16
15 Anthony DeSclafani CIN P 31 31 184.2 16
16 Jason Hammel CHC P 31 31 170.2 15
17 James Shields SDP P 33 33 202.1 15
18 Jeff Locke PIT P 30 30 168.1 14
19 Andrew Cashner SDP P 31 31 184.2 14
20 Felix Hernandez SEA P 31 31 201.2 13
21 Carlos Carrasco CLE P 30 30 183.2 13
22 Kyle Hendricks CHC P 32 32 180 13
23 Colby Lewis TEX P 33 33 204.2 12
24 Jeff Samardzija CHW P 32 32 214 12
25 Mike Fiers – – – P 31 30 180.1 12
http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=p&stats=fld&lg=all&qual=y&type=0&season=2015&month=0&season1=2015&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=17,d

Stolen Bases Allowed By Pitcher 2014
# Name Team Pos G GS Inn SB
1 Scott Feldman HOU P 29 29 180.1 35
2 A.J. Burnett PHI P 34 34 213.2 33
3 Tyson Ross SDP P 31 31 195.2 31
4 Jered Weaver LAA P 34 34 213.1 25
5 Roberto Hernandez – – – P 32 29 164.2 23
6 Drew Hutchison TOR P 32 32 184.2 22
7 Felix Hernandez SEA P 34 34 236 20
8 Aaron Harang ATL P 33 33 204.1 19
9 Francisco Liriano PIT P 29 29 162.1 19
10 Jeff Samardzija – – – P 33 33 219.2 19
11 Cole Hamels PHI P 30 30 204.2 19
12 Wily Peralta MIL P 32 32 198.2 19
13 Colby Lewis TEX P 29 29 170.1 18
14 Scott Kazmir OAK P 32 32 190.1 18
15 John Lackey – – – P 31 31 198 17
16 Brandon McCarthy – – – P 32 32 200 17
17 Jon Lester – – – P 32 32 219.2 16
18 Tim Hudson SFG P 31 31 189.1 15
19 Dan Haren LAD P 32 32 186 15
20 Alfredo Simon CIN P 32 32 196.1 15
21 Ian Kennedy SDP P 33 33 201 15
22 Eric Stults SDP P 32 32 176 15
23 Bud Norris BAL P 28 28 165.1 15
24 Jorge de la Rosa COL P 32 32 184.1 14
25 Chris Archer TBR P 32 32 194.2 14
26 Julio Teheran ATL P 33 33 221 14
27 Phil Hughes MIN P 32 32 209.2 14
28 Jason Vargas KCR P 30 30 187 14
29 Shelby Miller STL P 32 31 183 14
http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=p&stats=fld&lg=all&qual=y&type=0&season=2014&month=0&season1=2014&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=17,d&page=1_50

The first thing I noticed in doing this is that there are a few names that appear multiple times. For instance, Jake Arrieta, James Shields, Jimmy Nelson, and Ubaldo Jimenez all appear on both the 2016 and 2015 lists and A.J. Burnett, Alfredo Simon, Colby Lewis, Cole Hamels, Felix Hernandez, Jeff Samardzija, Jon Lester, and Shelby Miller all appear on the 2014 and 2015 leader boards.

The second thing I noticed was that while these guys all made multiple appearances on these leader boards pretty much all of them have either had a team name or catcher primary catcher change during the course of these years which would suggest that this is a product of their inability to hold runners on rather than a poor throwing catcher.

I also was surprised by the fact that Noah Syndergaard had four more stolen bases allowed than the second highest pitcher this season. However, once I looked at his 2015 numbers I realized that he would have been tied in 25th place with 15 stolen bases allowed had I removed the qualified innings limits.

So now how does one apply this?

The easiest way to apply this would seem to be in DFS. Typically prices on DFS sites are higher for power/speed combination hitters but tend to lean more towards the power side of the equation. For example, The Cleveland Indians are top five in stolen bases this season and are going up against Cole Hamels tomorrow. Both the Indians top stolen base threats Francisco Lindor and Rajai Davis have good prices tomorrow (Lindor is $4,200 and Davis is $3,300 on Draft Kings.) Davis’ price is especially low and would allow you to afford more expensive options other places.

Now in season long leagues we can try and apply it in the same way we would stream starting pitchers. For instance both Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez are both widely available in mixed leagues and both are facing Jimmy Nelson at home on Friday. It definitely could be a crap shoot, but if you are in a H2H categories league and need to improve you stolen base totals before the end of a matchup, it might be worth the gamble if you have the roster flexibility to do so. We often stream in H2H formats for strike outs, wins and quality starts, so the idea that attempting to do it for a different category shouldn’t be too outlandish.

Now over the course of the rest of the season I will try and use this strategy to see if it helps my teams, especially in DFS and H2H formats. Maybe this is strategy contains faulty logic that just hasn’t clicked for me or is a futile exercise in overthinking things, but like I said from the start, anything I can do to try and get an advantage is worth trying out.

Next week I will examine this strategy from the perspective of exploiting catchers.

We hoped you liked reading Streaming for Stolen Bases by Pitcher by Justin Mason!

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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.

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Roy

Thanks for the interesting piece. I’m rather surprised to not see Wright or Dickey on this list. It seems like running against a knuckleballer would be a no-brainer.