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August 19, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Steal This Post - Stretch Run Edition

by Craig Brown

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As we near the final month of the season, here are three names to consider if you’re searching for steals.

Coco Crisp

After missing most of the first half of the season with a broken pinkie and then a rib cage strain, Crisp seems determined to make up for lost time on the bases.  He’s attempting to steal in 27% of his opportunities, which is the third highest rate among all base runners with more than 200 opportunities.  He’s 19 for 21 in steals and as a bonus, is crossing the plate 43% of the time he reaches base.  Only Sean Rodriguez and Carl Crawford in Tampa are scoring at a higher rate among players with at least 200 plate appearances.

Crisp owns a .324 BABIP, which is currently the highest rate of his career.  Still, he counters that with a walk rate just ahead of 10%.  Crisp, who was never known for his plate discipline skills has now drawn 50 walks in his last 424 plate appearances dating to last season.  That puts his walk rate at 11.8%, which is well ahead of his career average of 7.7%.  So even if his BABIP regresses to the .300 mark in the next six weeks, hopefully he can maintain his OBP through the free pass. If he can accomplish this, his stolen base opportunities won’t diminish at all.  His .309 TAv is the highest of his career, suggesting even in limited time this year, he’s bringing some fantasy value.

Eric Young, Jr.

With Brad Hawpe searching for employment and Clint Barmes failing to be productive (again) it appears the Rockies will be giving Young a long look at either second base (where he has started three of the last four games) or the outfield for the remainder of the season.  

Since his recall from Triple-A Colorado Springs, Young has led off in each game he has started.  While he probably won’t walk enough to justify a continued presence in the leadoff role, the Rockies - lacking serious options at the top of the order - appear committed to giving him a chance to succeed at the leadoff spot.  And with seven steals in eight attempts - including three SB since his return - it appears he's focused on testing the arms of opposing catchers.  In very limited action at the major league level this season, Young has been off and running in 47% of his steal attempts.  Certainly, there’s no way he keeps running at that rate, but it’s a positive sign he’s going to flip the switch on those afterburners with frequency.  

Young missed time this year with a stress fracture in his right tibia, but with three steals since his return, it appears he's healthy.  Plus, hitting ahead of Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki, Young should be able to pad your run scoring totals as well.  He’s a great pickup in an NL only league and could help in some deeper mixed leagues as well.  

Gregor Blanco

Since joining the Royals, Blanco has started in 13 games and hit leadoff in the last 10.  The Royals love to run, but with a team success rate of 68% they aren’t very good at it, although Blanco is doing his best to change that.  After attempting three steals in 40 opportunities for the Braves, he’s run in six of his 27 opportunities for the Royals, and has yet to be thrown out.  

Blanco has shown some patience in the past - he walked 74 times for the Braves in 2008, his only full season in the majors - and is drawing a walk in about 10% of his plate appearances this year.  That’s a good thing, given he has zero power (Blanco has a 0.48 ISO) and puts 60% of all balls in play on the ground.  You would think with his speed, he could beat out a few infield hits, but so far this year that hasn’t been the case as he’s legged out a hit in just under 5% of all balls that stay on the infield.

Since Blanco doesn’t hit for average or power, and the Royals lineup behind him is one of the weaker ones in the league which limits his run scoring, grab him only if you are desperate for the steals.  And in an AL only league.

 

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

4 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
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