Players to Target for Steals (2023 Fantasy Baseball)
Fantasy managers are diving into their draft prep, and one of the best roads to success is to seek advantages in two categories: stolen bases and steals. This season should see a rise in stolen base attempts, with the MLB rule changes being implemented starting this season.
With bigger bases and limiting pickoffs, baseball fans should see an acceleration of the game and increased stolen base attempts and success rates.
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- Hitters to Avoid | Target
- Pitchers to Avoid | Target
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Average Draft Position (ADP) referenced using FantasyPros consensus
Players to Target for Steals (2023 Fantasy Baseball)
Let’s go around the diamond and identify the players that fantasy managers should target for stolen bases this season.
Daulton Varsho (C, OF – TOR): ADP 54
Daulton Varsho has a chance to be one of fantasy baseball’s best catchers in Toronto in 2023, even if he rarely plays behind the plate. My analysis of his trade: https://t.co/DiQbhSe7it
— Tristan H. Cockcroft (@SultanofStat) December 24, 2022
Daulton Varsho was on everyone’s sleeper lists last season. His catcher eligibility and ability to steal bases and pop in his bat allowed Varsho to be heavily desired by fantasy managers. Varsho did not disappoint, smacking 27 home runs and stealing 16 bases which allowed him to finish as a top-four catcher last season. Varsho was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays this offseason, where we should see Varsho strictly in the outfield, but he will still hold his catcher eligibility. More than likely, this will be the last season in which fantasy managers can take advantage of using Varsho as a cheat code at the catcher position. Fantasy managers must not waste the opportunity to cash in.
Seth Brown (1B, OF – OAK): ADP 207
There are only a few worthwhile options at first base, so diving deep at first base resulted in the selection of Seth Brown. Brown had a promising 2022 campaign, hitting 25 home runs and swiping 11 bases. Brown was one of only two first basemen (Freddie Freeman) who provided double-digit steals for their fantasy managers. A repeat of that fantasy production in a rebuilding A’s lineup seems to be an advantage that should be taken, especially at this draft capital,
Whit Merrifield (2B, OF – TOR): ADP 177
Whit Merrifield remains a top target for fantasy managers desperate for stolen bases. Merrifield produced a league-leading 40 stolen bases in 2021, giving him his third AL steals crown. His hitting numbers have dropped in recent seasons, but his stolen bases remain constant. The change of scenery from a pretender to a playoff contender at the trade deadline last season seemed to revitalize Merrifield. He was hitting .240 with a .643 OPS in 95 games with the Kansas City Royals, which jumped to a .281 mark with a .769 across 44 games in Toronto. As a result, Merrifield should see an upgrade in his fantasy production especially stolen bases hitting in front of an explosive Jays lineup.
Gunnar Henderson (3B – BAL): ADP 88
Gunnar Henderson is widely considered the top prospect in baseball. Henderson made his MLB debut last season with a thundering home run for his first MLB hit. The 21-year-old has serious pop in his bat, and his entry into the Orioles’ postseason run displayed the excitement surrounding the young infielder. He hit .259 with four homers and 18 RBI in 34 games, and his potential has vaulted directly into the Opening Day lineup for the Orioles. Henderson has the prospect pedigree that should lead him to be a fantasy stud for years to come. Combine his power with his ability to steal double-digit bases, and you have yourself the AL Rookie of the Year.
Tommy Edman (2B, SS – STL): ADP 70
More fuel for another #STLCards infielder: Tommy Edman was left off the @MLBNetwork Top 10 SSs list. Edman split time at 2B & SS in 2022. Had he had enough SS opportunities to qualify, his 6.3 WAR would have led all SSs.
STL’s Nolan Arenado was ranked as the network’s No. 5 3B.
— John Denton (@JohnDenton555) January 27, 2023
Astute fantasy managers are well aware of Tommy Edman. Edman has topped 30 stolen bases in consecutive seasons, and his position versatility at shortstop and second base is a vital asset to assist with roster and daily lineup construction. In addition, Edman hits leadoff for the St. Louis Cardinals, who finished as a top-10 offense last season. If you miss out on the top tier of shortstops, Edman is an absolute fantasy stud to add to your fantasy rosters for his steals and pop in his bat.
Harrison Bader (OF – NYY): ADP 178
Harrison Bader didn’t arrive to help the Yankees until September, but he was of little assistance in his 14 games. Bader slashed .217/.245/.283, however, more importantly, he solidified their center field position defensively. Then he got into a groove in the postseason, smacking five homers in nine games, and continued his excellent defensive glovework in centerfield. Bader stole 17 bases last season, and with a stranglehold on the CF job, he should see plenty of bats in the explosive Yankees lineup. Look for Bader to produce double-digit homers and stolen bases, making him a sneaky target late in your drafts.
Corbin Carroll (OF – ARI): ADP 77
Corbin Carroll is widely regarded as one of baseball’s top prospects. The former first-round pick is a five-tool prospect who batted .307/.425/.610 with 24 homers and 31 stolen bases across two levels last season. Carroll impressed in his 32-game stint in the big leagues at the end of last season, slashing .260/.330/.500 with four home runs, 14 RBI, and 15 XBH. Carroll, a career .310 minor league hitter, is expected to make a significant impact at the top of the Diamondbacks lineup this season. A 20 homer/20 steal is well within reach in his rookie season.
Esteury Ruiz (OF – OAK): ADP 317
Steamer projections believes only 16 players finish w/ 20+ SB.#Athletics OF Esteury Ruiz could easily finish w/ 30+ SB 🏃♂️🔥
Ruiz has a 256 ADP in NFBC drafts – going as early as 180th overall & as late as 354th overall since 12/20.
Don't forget him in #fantasybaseball drafts! https://t.co/FbYAusXr7N pic.twitter.com/lxYYP24IKI
— the Fantasy Gospel™ (@fantasy_gospel) January 4, 2023
The rebuild continues in Oakland as they obtain young assets in off-season moves. The A’s are banking on improving from their brutal 102-loss season in 2022. They acquired outfield prospect Esteury Ruiz who struggled in his first 17 MLB games, hitting 6-for-35 (.171) but flourished across two organizations and two minor league levels last season.
Ruiz posted a .900 OPS in Triple-A and recorded 86 stolen bases along with a .332/.447/.526 slash line. His speed is undeniable and a fantasy manager’s dream to roster as he takes over the CF job in Oakland. Now all he has to do is to prove he can hit in the big leagues because, as everyone knows, you can’t steal first base.
Jon Berti (2B, 3B, SS, OF – MIA): ADP 216
The Miami Marlins went on a shopping spree this offseason to boost a struggling offense that finished 28th in runs scored last season. Their additions should increase their offensive output. However, the Marlins’ offense still lacks the necessary firepower to match one of the best starting rotations in baseball. Nevertheless, fantasy managers can still find assets to help their fantasy lineups in Miami.
Jon Berti stole a Major League-leading 41 stolen bases last season while hitting .240/.324/.338. Berti finished with a 2.5 WAR and offered minimal power and 89 OPS+. However, Berti provides position flexibility, including being a valuable option at second base, third base, shortstop, and outfield. Even with the additions to the Marlins lineup, Berti provides security for the Marlins and Fantasy managers seeking to boost their stolen bases category.
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Dennis Sosic is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Dennis, check out his archive and follow him @CALL_ME_SOS.