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Sleeper Draft Targets for Stolen Bases (2023 Fantasy Baseball)

by Mike Kurland | @Mike_Kurland | Featured Writer
Feb 28, 2023
Fantasy Baseball Draft Lottery Tickets (2023)

Part opportunity and part skill set. That is what you should be targeting. Not all fast players are good at stealing bases and not all teams are aggressive on the base paths. Another factor to consider is lineup placement. The more plate appearances a player can get equals more opportunities to get on base. The more a player can get on base, the more they can steal. All these players listed here today check most — if not all — of these boxes.

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Fantasy Baseball Sleeper Targets: Stolen Bases

Ezequiel Tovar (SS – COL)

Ezequiel Tovar is a shallow league sleeper that has good defense and has shown to be ready for a shot at the starting shortstop spot entering 2023. He’s a top prospect for the team, and Bud Black has spoken highly of him and says he is ready to contribute. Across three levels last season, we saw 15 home runs and 17 stolen bases. Tovar consistently posted strong plate discipline numbers and on-base skills. This is a combination you like to see in young players and it should help his game translate to the MLB level a little easier. He was 17 for 20 on his stolen base attempts. Tovar ended the season getting a cup of coffee at the MLB level, he has a clear path to playing time, and he’s on the 40-man to enter the season. These are two boxes that you should be checking off before rostering any prospect going as early as him.

Esteury Ruiz (OF – OAK)

With Christian Pache not having much to show from an offensive standpoint at the MLB level, Esteury Ruiz enters the year as the favorite for the centerfield job. We have seen his ADP creep up since being dealt to the Athletics. There is no shortage of playing time there in Oakland and they are a team that will need to manufacture runs. Ruiz should not be given a red light given that the stolen bases are a huge part of his skill set. He stole 86 bases last year between his three stops. That is just unbelievable. He was rather efficient in those attempts as well converting 84% of his attempts on the year. The speed is as elite as it gets. The cavernous ballpark he now calls home will hinder the power production, but ultimately, you’re targeting Ruiz to provide you with stolen bases.

Jorge Mateo (SS – BAL)

Jorge Mateo showed us last season he can be streaky, but the speed is not something that was streaky. He ran often and stole 35 bases. There might be some questions as to what we should expect power production-wise and with his batting average, but if you are simply targeting stolen bases, Mateo will get you those. People might worry about the playing time and it could be an issue if the offense starts slow or is nonexistent for a long period again, but the defense was so strong last season that even if he struggles with the bat the glove can keep him on the field if he can pick up where he left off with it.

Kolten Wong (2B – SEA)

After seeing Kolten Wong fall into a weak-side platoon last season with the Brewers, people might get the false sense of security he will not be platooning with Seattle. It is too early to say, but with Dylan Moore in the mix, there is a clear path to a platoon. Regardless, Wong will get the strong side and plenty of playing time. He also finished 2022 strong, so maybe he can carry that momentum into 2023 with his new team.

Something to monitor is that Wong led off in the first lineup of spring training. This adds to the potential for stolen bases given that he could get more plate appearances. More plate appearances equals more opportunities. It is just one lineup, so we shouldn’t overreact, but it was the expected top five in the order. We are on notice with this one.

Brandon Marsh (OF – PHI)

The Phillies were the only team in the top seven in stolen base attempts in 2022 with a team wRC+ of at least 100. This is a team who was above average and stole bases aggressively, a combination that plays in the favor of players like Marsh who can steal bases. Marsh finds himself in a better situation playing time-wise than he did to start off last season, and he managed to steal 10 bases in just 461 plate appearances. If the Phillies remain equally as aggressive this season, he is set up for another double-digit stolen-base output. Especially with the new rules and bases in place. He was not the most efficient last season, but these changes could help him be more efficient. You can throw his teammate, Bryson Stot, into this discussion as well for the same reasons. Both deserve to be in this article, but instead of repeating the reasoning, he is getting grouped into Marsh’s write-up. Think of it as a bonus name.

Oswald Peraza (SS – NYY) and Anthony Volpe (SS – NYY)

Oswald Peraza is currently the projected favorite to land the shortstop job for the Yankees out of spring training. Anthony Volpe also deserves to be mentioned because whoever is starting between them (or if both somehow start) can run wild for this Yankees team. The Yankees were top 10 in stolen base attempts as a team last season and this was with one of the better offenses in baseball. They were aggressive on the base paths, and with players like Cabrera and Volpe, who have stealing bases as a part of their skill set, there is no reason these two won’t be able to get a green light.

Peraza flashed in his cup of coffee last season, but his skill set is more of a contact-oriented one. He does not walk much and the on-base skills are attached to his ability to get hits. However, his ability to get hits is a strength. He stole 35 bases between two stops last season — only caught five times. Given the clearer path to playing time, this is what gives Peraza a slight edge for me over Volpe entering the year in redraft leagues.

Meanwhile, Anthony Volpe stole 50 bases last season. However, he has posted a double-digit walk rate at every stop before his 99 plate appearances in Triple-A. Apparently, Volpe is in the mix for the starting shortstop job out of spring. He is not currently on the 40-man, but if he forces their hand, that will change. Ultimately, he might end up back there for more reps, but an early call-up is not out of the question and warrants his name being mentioned here.

Brice Turang (2B – MIL)

After finishing 2021 in Triple-A, Turang returned and played 131 games there in 2022. However, we saw a big jump in production as he settled into the level. He hit .286/.360/.412 with a .347 wOBA and 108 wRC+. The sub-20% K% is something he always has been able to do, as well as the double-digit walk rates. His plate discipline and speed have always been solid, but we saw him reach 13 home runs last year. This was his highest in any season. The power is not a zero, which is huge, but it is not a strength. The home ballpark should assist in that. Turang stole 34-of-36 bases last year. Paired with the on-base skills, it should continue to play up at the MLB level.

For a full breakdown on Brice Turang (and a couple of other players), you can watch this video:

Maikel Garcia (SS – KC)

Garcia made his way up and got 23 plate appearances at the MLB level last season. Before getting called up, he combined for 11 home runs and 39 stolen bases between Double-A and Triple-A. This came with at least a 104 wRC+ at both stops. He flashed good plate discipline and on-base skills, which can (and should) help the speed play up at the next level. He is going to be a watchlist-type for most leagues, but in the deepest of redraft formats, just keep your eye on him.

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