Need for Speed: Stolen Base Options to Stream (4/19-4/26)

Digging deep for stolen bases off your wire based on match ups

Welcome back. It feels good to start scouring the wire for stolen base possibilities again. The 2020 season was a different beast on many fronts and made making up ground in various counting categories even more attainable than ever with the shortened season.

Now, with a 162-game schedule before us, we have to work that much harder to claw and scrape our way in each category throughout the six-month schedule. If you work at it as diligently in April as you may in September you can put yourself in a good spot to not sweat the final few weeks.

Throughout draft season you hear it from every angle: You have to prioritize stolen bases early. Easier said than done though right? I’m here to tell you there’s still hope. You either have too much speed or not enough. This series will be focused on the latter.

If there’s a category to make up ground in, it’ll typically be stolen bases. Each week I’ll be providing a couple of options that may be sitting on your wire that have a good shot at getting you at least one more bag. I’m going for the deep cuts and focusing only on players owned in less than 20% of leagues, per Yahoo, which typically focus on leagues with 12 teams.

This list will change week to week, but you’ll continue to see a general theme. The picks will be focused not just on the speedsters that are generally undrafted, but mostly on sneaky pickups that can take advantage of their matchups, may it be with an offense-first catcher or a starting pitcher with a history of focusing solely on what’s in front of them and ignoring the baserunners. Before we move on to this week’s recommendations, let’s see how last week’s speedsters faired.


Last Week’s Results


Miguel Rojas (MIA) – 1 SB
Both Rojas and Jazz Chisholm recorded a stolen base as they completed a double steal on reliever Luke Jackson and catcher Travis d’Arnaud in the 8th inning. d’Arnaud’s track record would lend me to believe he is probably the one to blame here as he ended his 2020 campaign throwing out just 11% of baserunners and finished with the fourth-most stolen bases allowed among catchers. Throughout the 2020 season, Jackson pitched through 64 stolen base opportunities (times where there was a baserunner on second or third with no runner ahead of them and only one runner), and only once did a runner attempt a stolen base.

Anderson Tejada (TEX) – 0 SB
To be fair, the Rangers didn’t give him much opportunity to steal bases this week as Tejada only saw time in 2 of the first 5 games of the week. I know that doesn’t help ease the pain if you took a flyer on him this week, but keep the faith that if he is given the playing time Tejada will run, as he showed just before the week started, stealing a base the day last week’s article was published. Tejada still has tempting matchups next week as the Rangers travel to Los Angeles to face Max Stassi and Kurt Suzuki of the Angels and then ship up to Chicago to face Zack Collins and Yasmani Grandal of the White Sox. The Angels and White sox are currently third and fifth respectively for most stolen bases allowed this season and an aggressive team like Texas may look to exploit that weakness. Now we just need to see Tejada in the lineup so he can be part of that exploitation.

Kyle Isbel (KC) – 0 SB
Another victim to playing time struggles, Isbel has only seen time in one game this week. He was a late scratch to his Thursday matchup and more information is still being sought on that. He can still make up lost ground with a doubleheader scheduled for Saturday against the Blue Jays where the matchup with Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk still holds firmly in the favor of would-be Royals’ baserunners. Isbel will still make his way into this week’s Honorable Mention section with another great matchup against the Rays to start the week.

Tyler Wade (2B, NYY), Rougned Odor (2B, NYY), Andrelton Simmons (SS, MIN), Elvis Andrus (SS, OAK) – 0 SB combined
Well, this didn’t look great. With Wade being optioned to the alternate site and Simmons being placed on the Covid-19 IL that was two options down from the get-go. Odor and Andrus have played every day thus far this week, but have not been put in a good situation to steal any bases. Maybe next time.

One other thing to consider here is that these matchups are always subject to change, as most things are, and most of these suggestions are best served in a league with daily moves. Weekly adds can still be considered in a pretty deep league, but know that this is only focused on the possibility of stealing bases, even at the expense of other categories. So, after that disclaimer, let’s see who’s poised to run over the next week who may be available in your league:


Tim Locastro, Arizona Diamondbacks


Locastro finished the 2020 season in the 100th percentile for sprint speed and currently sits in the same spot through the start of the 2021 season. For those keeping track at home, that’s good. Only Trea Turner is averaging a better sprint speed on the season, barely edging out Locastro’s 30.7 ft/sec mark with a 30.8 ft/sec mark.

Locastro does hold the fastest home plate to first time, which is a better indicator of base running speed anyway, being clocked as fast as 4.06 seconds out of the box. Along with his obvious speed, Locastro is leading off every day for the Diamondbacks, making him an obvious pick for this list regardless of matchups.

Luckily, Arizona plays host to the Braves to end the week, and with that comes Travis d’Arnaud who has yet to throw out any baserunners on the young season and comes with a history of letting opponents advance at will. Also lucky for Locastro, Arizona should face off exclusively against right-handed starters all week with the top of the Cincinnati rotation expected to pitch the start of the week and the Atlanta right-handed heavy rotation coming to town to end it.


Robbie Grossman, Detroit Tigers:


Another leadoff hitter makes the list — shocker. Robbie Grossman finished the shortened 2020 season with 8 stolen bases for Oakland and has so far continued the trend stealing two for his new team in 2021. Both of his stolen bases this year have come against Cleveland, who have yet to allow any other player to advance on the base paths by way of stealing bases this year. Imagine what Grossman can do against the league-leading Jacob Stallings of the Pirates to start the week. Stallings has allowed 11 stolen bases on the young season as teams continue to find ways to exploit an all-around poor Pittsburg squad. Grossman should continue to put himself in opportunities to run as he builds off his 19.3% walk rate keeping his OBP at .386, regardless of his .205 batting average.


Niko Goodrum, Detroit Tigers:


Honestly, both Kyle Isbel and Anderson Tejada would have stayed on the list if playing time wasn’t as much a question. Also, Jon Berti would have been a better pick here but he is exactly 20% rostered across Yahoo! leagues. So, keeping with my self-imposed rule, I’m staying with the Tigers and looking at Niko Goodrum to come through alongside teammate Robbie Grossman. The versatile Goodrum finished 2018 and 2019 in the 92nd and 94th percentile for sprint speed respectively, and while he took a dip down to 79th percentile in 2020 still finished with seven stolen bases and was caught just once on the shortened season. The added bonus of being able to be plugged into multiple positions in most fantasy formats makes Goodrum a nice filler for the week ahead.


Honorable Mentions


Nick Ahmed (SS, ARI)  vs Travis d’Arnaud (C, ATL)
Kyle Isbel (OF, KC) vs Mike Zunino (C, TB)
Anderson Tejada (3B, TEX) vs Max Stassi/Kurt Suzuki (C, LAA) and Zack Collins/Yasmani Grandal (C, CWS)

Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Twitter & IG)

Adam Howe

Adam resides in Indianapolis after spending the better part of a decade in Oakland, CA and growing up in Massachusetts. He co-hosts the On The Wire podcast with Kevin Hasting, analyzing your weekly FAAB options before your bid deadlines every Sunday.

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