Steals for position players are like saves for a pitcher: a category that doesn’t get a lot of press and also often gets booted by people that are losing their league. In this article, I’ll try to offer some advice on which players that I would draft for the rest of the season.
1. OF Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay Devil Rays: Last year Crawford uprooted 59 bases, which wasn’t enough for the major league lead, but pretty darned good. This season, however, I think Crawford will steal around 70, but with better numbers than last year everywhere else.
2. OF Scott Podsednik, Chicago White Sox: Podsednik will have to learn a whole new set of pitchers and catchers, which should limit the amount of successful stolen base chances he should have this season. Manager Ozzie Guillen seems obsessed with speed, however, and Podsednik will get his numbers in. The move to US Cellular should help his other numbers as well.
3. OF Carlos Beltran, New York Mets: I don’t know how much he’ll run, but he’ll put up pretty good stats in the other four categories. He should steal 40 bases without many caught stolen, but expect drop offs in the other categories from last year. He’s still a pretty darned good hitter, but there are other guys for speed.
4. OF Juan Pierre, Florida Marlins: Another outfielder, another speedster. The Marlins have two tremendous leadoff hitters batting first and second in their lineup and with plenty of speed between them. Pierre is probably the better base stealer and should steal forty with a good batting average. Don’t expect much elsewhere.
5. OF Bobby Abreu: He’s off to a slow (for him) start, but don’t expect this to last at all. Abreu should hit thirty bombs and steal at least thirty bases; combine that with his high batting average and production in the other categories and you should expect one of the best players in the league.
6. OF Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners: Ichiro sits atop a potent Seattle lineup with AL Rookie of the Year candidate Jeremy Reed, Adrian Beltre, and Richie Sexson to drive him in. These boppers translate into large numbers of runs scored, but Ichiro can get a ton of hits and steal bases. His average will be high, but, like most base stealers, won’t get many homers and RBIs.
7. 2B/3B/SS/OF Chone Figgins, Los Angeles Angels: He may not be eligible at all of these positions, but that would be pretty nice. Figgins is playing at second right now while Adam Kennedy is rehabbing from injury. Where he plays after that is up in the air, but he’ll get the at-bats. Well, the stolen bases.
8. SS Rafael Furcal, Atlanta Braves: The Atlanta Braves have been in a little slump lately, mainly the cause of a bad spark of the lineup. Second place hitter Marcus Giles is finding his bat, which means Furcal will soon find his. Furcal has four stolen bases on the year and soon hitting coach Terry Pendleton will force Furcal to hit for speed, not power (three homers already).
9. SS Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies: Rollins has gotten off to a slightly better start than Furcal (these two are so similar), but I think that Furcal will have the bigger season.
10. 3B Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees: Last year A-Rod got back to the running game that he abandoned in Texas and swiped twenty-eight bases. While I don’t think he’ll get those numbers once again, look for twenty, at the least.
11. SS Derek Jeter, New York Yankees: Jeter is a talented base stealer, one that has definitely been around for a while. The Boss seemingly has placed more emphasis on speed and Jeter is batting leadoff or second for the Yankees, so it seems like a perfect combination for at least a repeat of last year’s 23.
12. OF Matt Lawton, Pittsburgh Pirates: Did you know this guy was 20-20 last year with a decent batting average? I bet you didn’t. He can steal quite a few bases, probably thirty, but his “other” stats like runs scored and RBIs will be a little bit lower. Expect a slight drop off in power, too.
13. 2B Tony Womack, New York Yankees: Manager Joe Torre said that Womack was the fastest guy he’s ever managed. Womack will be the number 9 or leadoff hitter for much of the season, so he should steal quite a few bases. Three Yankees in the top 13? I smell a new offense for the Bronx Bombers or should I say Burners.
14. 2B Luis Castillo, Florida Marlins: Manager Jack McKeon loves to let his guys run and run they do. It remains to be seen if these Fish will attempt more steals with the big bats behind them, but it remains to be seen. Pencil Castillo in for twenty steals and spectacular defense at the Keystone position.
15. OF Torii Hunter, Minnesota Twins: Hunter did a better job earning his huge paycheck last year than in 2003 with 23 bombs and 21 bases. To expect numbers much different than that should not be unexpected. Translation: expect more of the same.
16. OF Dave Roberts, San Diego Padres: All right, call me stupid. However, I would be willing on taking a chance that Roberts is healthy and steals bases. I think, from here on out, Roberts can swipe twenty bases. Or he could spend much of the year going from 15 day DL stint to 15 day DL stint. I have faith, gut instincts.
17. SS Cesar Izturis, Los Angeles Dodgers: He can hit for average and steal a few bases, but he won’t give you much else. Expect a .280 average and 20 stolen bases, which is not that disappointing from your shortstop in deep/NL only leagues.
18. 2B Brian Roberts, Baltimore Orioles: I know he started off blue (yes, that’s hotter than red) hot, but he has cooled off a bit. Roberts is a very talented player and could put up Melvin Mora-type numbers. For a second baseman, you have to be impressed.
19. 2B Alfonso Soriano, Texas Rangers: Soriano is a little impatient at the plate and is turning away from speed and more towards power. He can steal 30 bases, but will he reach that number? Expect 20 bases and 30 bombs, a darn good year from a second baseman.
20. OF Johnny Damon, Boston Red Sox: Contract year, expect a whole bunch of production. He’s got the goods to steal at least 25. Combine that with last year’s 20 homers and you got yourself a guy who’s pretty good.