Need for Speed: Stolen Base Options to Stream (9/4-9/9)

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:


Leody Tavares, Texas Rangers:


More rookie fun, this time in Texas. Tavares actually made the opening day roster for the Rangers but, after a brief experience as a defensive replacement, was sent back to their alternate sight. His first MLB plate appearance didn’t come for another month when he batted leadoff for Texas on August 24th. He’s started every game since in centerfield, and beyond any routine days off, should continue to bat leadoff for the remainder of the season for the Rangers.

Tavares brings with him solid speed grades from his times in the minors, where he posted 32 stolen bases on 45 attempts across two levels in 2019, and he’s already ranked in the 90th percentile for sprint speed in his short time up at the major league level this season. Texas has not been shy on the base paths, attempting the third most stolen bases in the league to date, behind only Seattle and Miami. They have the luxury of facing off against the Mariners this weekend, who have only been able to throw out one would-be base stealer on 24 attempts. No granted, most of those came against Austin Nola, who no longer resides in Seattle. Instead, the Mariners will rely on Luis Torrens behind the plate on most days, who has only played seven games (five starts) thus far and has allowed five stolen bases and has yet to throw anyone out in his small sample. After traveling to Seattle, the Rangers come home to host the Angels, who have allowed a lead leading 33 stole bases this season, so Tavares has that to look forward to as well.


Raimel Tapia, Colorado Rockies


Yes, Tapia has made this list before and as long as he regularly bats lead off for the Rockies and stays under the 20% rostered mark (he’s currently only at six percent) he’ll end up on this list again in the future. It doesn’t hurt he’s playing the Dodgers, who have allowed 27 stole bases on 32 attempts so far this season, good for third most across the league. He also faces the Padres, who just acquired the aforementioned Austin Nola as their primary backstop, who has allowed 14 stolen bases, good for sixth most among MLB catchers, and only thrown out three (two of which have come in his short stint with the Padres). Perhaps the issue came mostly from Seattle pitchers. San Diego, who currently have the sixth-best caught stealing rate in the league (eight caught stealing on 22 attempts), can make help Nola make adjustments that will lead to less base running by their opponents. Until then, expect speedsters like Tapia to keep testing and keep running.


Roman Quinn, Philadelphia Phillies:


Quinn is notably one of the fastest players in baseball, he just doesn’t always get enough playing time to show off. The thing is, when Quinn gets in a position to steal a base, there’s a good chance he’s taking off. Through this year Quinn has had 17 stolen base opportunities — times he found himself on first base or second base with the next base open — and has six stolen bases on the season to show for it. The added bonus to take into consideration is the fact that Philadelphia still has 27 more games to play, including four double headers and just two scheduled off days before the end of the season. That means more opportunities for Quinn and more possibilities for stolen bases. Joe Girardi hasn’t been shy in letting his guys run, either, sending them on 26 occasions this year with a 85% success rate to show for it, good for the fourth-best rate in the league. The Phillies will see three games against the Mets, who have allowed the seventh-most stolen bases this year with 22 and then a doubleheader with the Red Sox, who rank right behind the Mets with 21 stolen bases allowed. Quinn may not start every game, but when he is in the lineup he’s a threat.


Honorable mentions


Sam Hilliard vs Dodgers (9/4-9/6) and Padres (9/7-9/9)
Delino Deshields vs Corbin Burnes (9/4)
Luis Urias vs Tigers (9/8-9/9)


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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