Need for Speed: Stolen Base Options to Stream (7/25-7/30)

Adam Howe sheds light on deep stolen base options based on matchups.

Every stolen base means that much more in this shortened season and odds are it was difficult to prioritize speed in your recent drafts. 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 this year, it’ll be stolen bases. The category may be the tightest in every roto league, with just a couple being the difference between the top and bottom of the standings.

Here are 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. 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 (looking at you Jarrod Dyson), but mostly on sneaky pickups that can take advantage of their matchups.

One thing to consider here is that these match ups are always subject to change, as most things are nowadays, 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 few days:

Tyler Wade and Aaron Hicks, New York Yankees: The next few match ups for the Yankees have them facing off with some pitchers that come with a history of allowing stolen bases. In 2019 Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, Jake Arrietta, and Zach Eflin combined to allow 47 stolen bases on 65 attempts over 122 games in 2019.

Hicks is still owned in just 15% of Yahoo leagues, despite leading off for one of the strongest line ups in baseball and playing almost everyday. Though he has yet to prove he’s ready to run rampant after returning from Tommy John, he’s still a threat in the right environment. Hicks is the option that can help your line up the most, even if the stole bases don’t come. 

Wade, on the other hand, has the speed to steal, as demonstrated by his 93rd-percentile spring speed. He just needs the opportunities. If DJ LeMahieu is given more days off in the coming weeks, Wade seems to be the main beneficiary at second base. With five of the Yankees’ next expected starters being of the right handed variety, Wade should see a majority of the starts. Expected to bat at the bottom of the lineup, Wade just needs to inch up his 10.2% walk rate from last season to get on base and take advantage of his speed and his opponent pitcher’s tendencies to allow runners to advance.

Teoscar Hernandez, Blue Jays: Owned in just 10% of Yahoo leagues, perhaps due to the fear of being stuck on the short end of a platoon, Hernandez offers a bit of everything. Luckily for him, the fear of the platoon should be mitigated as he’s expected to face off against two straight lefties in Ryan Yarbrough and Blake Snell on Saturday and Sunday. Snell is the better bet to allowing baserunners to advance, as he let up 14 stole bases in just 22 appearances in his abbreviated 2019 campaign. Hernandez sat in the 94th-percentile in sprint speed in 2019 and should bat in the bottom third of the line up, where manufacturing runs will be more of a focus.

Josh VanMeter, Cincinnati Reds: In what may be the deepest pick on this list, VanMeter is also the slowest (49th percentile in sprint speed in 2019). He’s shown through his time in the minors that he can take advantage of his spots when given the opportunities, stealing double digit bases in each of the past four seasons over multiple levels, plus nine bags in 95 games played with Cincinnati. If given the opportunity, VanMeter would get some favorable matchups against righties Ivan Nova, Spencer Turnbull, and Yu Darvish. And though he’s unlikely to start against him, Jon Lester presents plenty of opportunities for baserunners to take advantage. If VanMeter can get on base by leaning on his 11.2% BB rate, he could find his way to sneaking a stolen base with those pitchers on the mound.

Honorable mentions
Eric Sogard and Orlando Arcia vs Yu Darvish (7/25)
Phil Ervin vs Jon Lester (7/27)
Jackie Bradley, Kevin Pillar, and Jose Peraza vs Jacob deGrom (7/29)

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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