Need for Speed: Stolen Base Options to Stream (9/11-9/16)

Adam Howe sheds light on deep stolen base bets 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 matchups 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:


Daulton Varsho & Tim Locastro, Arizona Diamondbacks:


The biggest beneficiary of Starling Marte being shipped out to Miami was Daulton Varsho, who was playing sporadically at most prior to the trade deadline but now has found himself in the starting line up every day since. Varsho has been jumping between center field, left field, designated hitter, and even catcher, giving him versatility not only for the Diamondbacks, but for those fantasy rosters he’s on as well. Speed has been part of Varsho’s game through his time in the minors as he averaged 20 stolen bases in each of the past two seasons — 40 stolen bases on 48 attempts through 188 games across A+ and AA. Having that sort of stolen base threat coming out of your catcher position can be invaluable, especially this late in the season by a player who’s playing every day, and should be expected to start every day for the remainder of the season.

Tim Locastro may not be playing every day, but he just may be the fastest man in baseball at the moment. Locastro has seen his playing time increase a bit since the trade deadline as well, finding himself in the starting line up 6 out of the last 10 games and leading off in 5 of those starts. Locastro has the fastest sprint speed measured thus far this year at 30.7 ft/sec and is tied for 6th fastest 90 ft running splits, as measured by Baseball Savant. Locastro will always be a threat once he’s on base and has yet to be caught stealing at the major league level, recording 25 stolen bases on 25 attempts through 138 games since 2017.

Pay special attention to both Locastro and Varsho this weekend as they face off against Seattle, who has allowed 29 stolen bases thus far this year, and has only caught 2 would-be base stealers. Seven of those came while Justin Dunn was on the mound for the Mariners (2nd most allowed by a pitcher this season). Dunn is slated to start for Seattle on Sunday (9/13). Next week the Diamondbacks take on the Angels and no one has been run on more often than they’ve been, with 52 attempts on the season thus far. Dylan Bundy sits tied with Dunn for 2nd-most stolen bases allowed and. he’s expected to take the hill on Wednesday (9/16).


Harrison Bader, St. Louis Cardinals


Harrison Bader finds himself playing in more games as of late. Perhaps it’s because Dylan Carlson was optioned back to the alternate site. Perhaps he’s shown something to Mike Shildt that’s gotten him into more games. Whatever the case, Bader has started in center field in each of his last 6 games and the more opportunities Bader can get means more opportunities on the base paths. Bader has ranked at the top of the sprint speed leader boards in each of the last 3 seasons (99th, 98th, and 99th percentile, respectively), so we know the speed is there. The Cardinals have 8 games in the next 6 days, including 4 in Milwaukee next week. Corbin Burnes may have been turning heads as of late, but in the process he’s found a way to lead the league in stolen bases allowed, allowing 8 stolen bases in 45.1 IP. If Bader gets the start against Burnes, look for him to take advantage.


Jurickson Profar, San Diego Padres:


Ok, I’ll be the first to admit I don’t want to roster Jurickson Profar anymore. He hasn’t shown much in the past few seasons. He’s been passed from team to team, unable to take hold of any single position for any team he’s been on. The difference right now is that Profar is starting — every day. So for a short burst I’ll make an exception and add him to my line up where I need the speed.

Profar isn’t terribly fast, ranking about league average in sprint speed this year, but he’s been able to take advantage of situations when they’re given, especially as of late. The Padres aren’t afraid to run, as they lead the league with 42 stolen bases and a success rate at 88%. They’ve spread the wealth, having 13 different players account for those 42 swiped bags. Profar has been responsible for 4 of those bags this season, the latest coming on September 7th during a game that saw the Padres record 4 stolen bases on the day — so when the Padres see opportunities, expect them to exploit them as often as they can. This weekend they’ll find themselves going up against San Francisco, who sit at about league average on allowed stolen bases, and Los Angeles Dodgers, who rank 3rd in both stolen bases allowed with 32 and stolen base completion percentage with 86%.


Honorable mentions


JP Crawford vs Zac Gallen (9/13)


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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