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Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy: How To Approach Stolen Bases (2024)

Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy: How To Approach Stolen Bases (2024)

The 2023 season was a year unlike any other we’ve seen in fantasy baseball. Between the pitch clock, limited number of pick-off attempts and bigger bases, the basepaths have never seemed easier for baserunners to navigate. This is shown in the data, as offense was up across the board and up significantly in stolen bases.

It’s hard to overstate just how drastically the new rules changed the stolen base landscape. In 2022, there were 2,487 stolen bases across the league, according to Baseball Almanac. That number jumped to 3,500 this past season. That’s an increase of nearly 40%. It’s also the most steals in a season since 1987 and the second-most in MLB history. The number of players with 20+ steals ballooned from 24 in ’22 to 51 in ’23. Players with 30+ include six in ’22 and 18 in ’23. Six players stole 40+ bases last season compared to only one in 2022.

With the saturation of 20+ steal potential players, our draft strategies must change. So many players can reach that 20-steal threshold, that it’s no longer as beneficial to pay high dollar for a steals specialist.

However, assuming you don’t want to punt the category, here are some ways to attack steals in your draft based on what hitter you’re selecting in the early rounds.

How To Approach Steals in (2024 Fantasy Baseball)

The Steals Elite

Drafting early in the first round is a gift if you’re prioritizing steals. There are four players in the top six by ADP with 37+ steals last season: Ronald Acuna, Bobby Witt, Corbin Carroll and Julio Rodriguez – None of whom you’d be sacrificing any of the other categories by taking early. If you can draft one of these players in the first, you could passively gather enough stolen bases throughout the draft to be in good shape.

A Balanced Attack

If you miss out or steer away from the elite, there are potential 30/30 hitters still available. Kyle Tucker, Fernando Tatis, Shohei Ohtani and Jose Ramirez are all more than capable of taking advantage of an extra year of the new rules and improving on their stolen base totals from a year ago. Grabbing a couple of 20-30 steal players and one of these hitters should be a recipe for success.

Steals Lite

If you “go away” from steals in the first, you could be looking at Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Juan Soto or Aaron Judge. I use the term “go away” lightly because all of these players can steal 10-20 bags. Although Judge and Freeman were outliers from this group last season, a bounce back to the 10-20 range seems likely.

You could really fall behind in steals if you pair one of these with a player like Yordan Alvarez, Vladimir Guerrero, Pete Alonso or Kyle Schwarber. This is the type of build where it would make sense to push a player like CJ Abrams up a few rounds to lock down a potential league leader. Use caution when pushing a player like Esteury Ruiz up, though, as he actively hurts you in every other category and lost playing time at the end of last season.

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