Sneaky Steals: Late-Round Targets for Stolen Bases (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
It is no secret which counting statistic is the hardest to obtain in all of baseball. That statistic seems to be a lost art in today’s game. Of course, we are talking about the stolen base category. In a day where most managers give hitters the green light to swing for the fences constantly, it is quite the opposite in terms of swiping a base.
With that in mind, players are pushed up boards every year because of their stolen base potential. A player like Billy Hamilton for years and Adalberto Mondesi, more recently, are drafted early despite providing little else. Simply put, it’s because they can win managers a category by themselves. That is unless you are savvy with drafting steals. Here are players going below pick 200 in ADP (according to Fantasy Pros ADP) that can boost your team’s stolen base totals.
Garrett Hampson (2B/SS/OF – COL): ADP 278
Raimel Tapia (OF – COL): ADP 233
Sam Hilliard (OF – COL): ADP 400
This is a Colorado Rockies three for one. With Nolan Arenado out of town, and Matt Kemp opting out, the trio should see plenty of playing time. Hampson and Hilliard are battling for the centerfield job, but Hilliard can play any outfield spot necessary, and Hampson’s natural position is second base. They have paths to more playing time than meets the eye. In 2020, Hampson was 99th-percentile in sprint speed, while Hilliard was 97th-percentile. Both just need to be on the field to provide steals.
Tapia looks to have the trio’s more guaranteed role and is expected to lead off against righties. In 2020, he stole eight bases on 10 attempts in only 51 games. Paced out to a full season, and Tapia could provide over 20 steals. Being drafted past pick 200, he could be quite the bargain with regular at-bats atop the Rockies lineup.
Kolten Wong (2B – MIL): ADP 285
The glove-first second baseman signed a 2 year, $18 million with the Milwaukee Brewers, and it seems like no one believes this isn’t an improvement for Wong’s fantasy status. Now in a more hitter-friendly environment, with an improved lineup behind him, Wong should be on base more and provide more fantasy numbers all around. That includes stolen bases. Wong has stolen 29 bases in 201 games since 2019. While his sprint speed isn’t elite, he is efficient on the bases, having a career 78% stolen base percentage. If given the green light, Wong could provide 25+ steals in his first season with Milwaukee.
Leody Taveras (OF – TEX): ADP 238
Going right at pick 200, Taveras requires slightly more investment than the rest of the group. That makes sense when you have a potential everyday player who is coming off four home runs and eight stolen bases in only 134 plate appearances. With 96th-percentile speed, there is no doubting the speed. The track record in the minors speaks for itself, as Taveras stole 32 bases in 2019, 19 in 2018, and 20 in 2017. What would benefit him most is hitting at the top of a lineup that needs a true leadoff hitter. Despite a heavy swing and miss profile, Taveras will likely battle Nick Solak and Isiah Kiner-Falefa for that spot. If he wins it, there could be stolen bases galore from the Rangers outfielder.
Nick Senzel (OF- CIN): ADP 263
Thus far, the former top 10 overall prospect in baseball has taken the Byron Buxton route to his MLB career. It seems injury after injury has affected the uber-talented Reds centerfielder. Despite never proving it over a full season, the Reds have committed to Senzel as an everyday player for them heading into 2021. With that news, Senzel simply needs to stay healthy, and counting stats galore should follow. Senzel has stolen 16 bases in 127 career MLB games. If we factor in a rise in his OBP (the career .305 number will rise) and his 97-percentile sprint speed, Senzel is all but a lock for over 20 stolen bases with regular playing time.
Jon Berti (2B/SS/3B/OF – MIA): ADP 268
Jon Berti is perhaps only behind Adalberto Mondesi in terms of pure stolen base upside. Berti has stolen 27 bases in 32 attempts in only 116 MLB games. The journeyman has found a home in Miami, and he seemingly has a super-utility role heading into the 2021 season. He possesses 97th-percentile sprint speed and a rare knack for not getting thrown out. If given 500+ plate appearances, Berti has 40+ stolen base upside.
Scott Kingery (2B/SS/3B/OF – PHI): ADP 390
Like Nick Senzel, Kingery was once a highly-ranked prospect who hadn’t had that true breakout season. Injuries and bad plate discipline have held back the soon-to-be 27-year-old from becoming a household name. Although his 2019 provided 19 home runs and 15 stolen bases, there is still untapped potential with the Phillies’ outfielder. Kingery has struck out more than expected thus far into his career and has moved him down the Phillies’ lineup. In 2020, Kingery hit .159 and stole zero bases across 36 games. Don’t expect that to stick, as a .200 BABIP simply isn’t repeatable. Before 2020, Kingery stole 25 bases in 273 games. If he can figure out how to get on base more, there is 20+ stolen base potential.
Myles Straw (SS/OF – HOU): ADP 327
The Astros have a huge gap to fill in centerfield with George Springer’s departure, and they haven’t signed anyone to fill it. That leaves Myles Straw as the prime candidate to take on the role, and Straw has speed to burn. Through his first 98 MLB games, Straw has stolen 16 bases in 19 attempts. With the Astros looking for a leadoff hitter, Straw’s speed, along with his minor league career .394 OBP, makes him a prime candidate for the spot. If Straw can play near every day, there is easily 30+ stolen base upside.
Manuel Margot (OF – TB): ADP 270
The Rays know how to get the best out of their players, and the once former top prospect is potentially the next player to fit that mold. Margot never broke through for the Padres, but he always has provided stolen bases when he plays. With 62 career steals in 475 games, Margot has averaged 20 steals per 160 game pace throughout his career. In 2020, his first season with the Rays, he stole more bases per game than ever. His 12 steals in 47 games paced him out to nearly 40 steals across an entire season! While that isn’t likely, Margot seems like a lock for 25+ steals if he plays every day. That is the ultimate question, as the Rays have some elite prospect ready to come up in 2021. Players will be shifted, and if Margot isn’t performing, he won’t be an everyday player. But with an ADP of 270, the risk could be worth the reward.
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