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July 8, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Steal This Post - Revisited

by Craig Brown

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As we near the end of the first half of the season, why not look back at some of the things I wrote during spring training?  Accountability is an important part of a process like this… Hopefully it can be entertaining as well.

So today’s entry looks back at an article I wrote about searching for steals guys at the end of a draft.  The guys profiled all had an ADP below 200 and provided what I thought to be good value if you were shopping for speed.

With the results of the season half way in, let’s see how the crystal ball looked back in March.

On Drew Stubbs:
However, Stubbs has shown fair selectivity at the dish - he’s walked in 12% of his plate appearances in the minors - so he does have the ability to get on base.  And once he gets on, his speed is most certainly a weapon - and an asset to your fantasy team.

While Stubbs walk rate of 9.6% is nice, his whiff rate of 27.5% is odious.  Overall, he’s putting the ball in play in only 58% of his plate appearances.  We all know how that’s the first domino in not reaching base enough… So that ability I wrote of in March?  Yeah, he’s not doing so well in that department.

For the second part of that statement, he is running in about 19% of all opportunities and has an 84% success rate.  Does that make him an asset?  I think so.

Overall, his batted ball ratios are static from his rookie year and his .173 ISO teases us with his potential.  However, until he can make consistent contact - which seems like a long shot at this point - he’ll never give you the average you need.  Although he has shown improvement after a disastrous start to the season.  Stubbs is hitting .270 since May, which was the date he was dropped from leadoff to seventh in the Reds batting order.  In the ensuing two months he has nine steals and nine home runs with 35 RBI.  He's a candidate to hit 20 HR and collect 30 steals by the end of the season... Not too shabby.

On Scott Podsednik:
Despite the fact his batting average and OBP will likely decline, it’s safe to grab him for the steals and the runs he’ll amass at the top of the order.  Just keep your fingers crossed that PECOTA was correct on his average and on base percentage and the fall off from last season isn’t too far.

Well, I was correct about his batting average and OBP declining.  He’s lost a whopping three points off his BA and is down five on his OBP.  Uh, so that prediction can't really be counted as a win.

As far as steals, he’s running in 28% of all opportunities and has 24 successful steals in 34 attempts.  The 71% success rate isn’t all that great, but he’s still running.  The outs he’s making on the bases is ultimately hurting his run scoring, though.  Despite exclusively hitting leadoff, Podsednik has crossed the plate only 39 times.  

Owners were Podsednik-quick to grab him - he is now owned in over 90% of all ESPN leagues.

On Lastings Milledge:
He doesn’t stand out in any other categories - although he could be a decent RBI guy given his spot in the order.  However, if you’re looking for a handful of steals, Milledge fits the bill as a low cost alternative.

If you define a handful as four, then this prediction would be a success.  Except, I was aiming a little higher.  Through 72 games, Milledge has attempted only seven steals and owns a meager 57% success rate.  That’s actually not far from last year’s 60%.  That’s not a level we’d like to see a guy maintain. 

He is driving in a few runners, though.  He’s cashed in 15% of all base runners (right around league average) and is hitting .375/.462/.518 with runners in scoring position.  Unfortunately, the Pirates lineup has effectively neutered any RBI opportunities a guy hitting in the middle third of the order would expect to see.

Milledge may have been a value play as I mentioned back in March.  That value has pretty much evaporated.  Especially now he's featuring largely as the right-handed side of a platoon with Ryan Church. There are much better options available.
 

Craig Brown is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Craig's other articles. You can contact Craig by clicking here

Related Content:  Steals

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Transaction Action: We... (07/07)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spot... (07/07)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spot... (07/08)
Next Article >>
Seidnotes: The K/BB Ra... (07/08)

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