Premium base stealers like Carl Crawford aren’t worth the price of admission and neither are the ones without power like Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner. The opportunity cost of those steals is lost power. In the case of Crawford, you won’t find 40-plus home runs from anybody by giving up Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, Ryan Howard, etc. to nab Crawford. I realize he offers other things outside of just steals which is why he’s a Top 15 pick, but you’ll be playing catch up in power categories the rest of the way. Limiting your options later in the draft is not a sound early round strategy, and finding 175 stolen bases for cheap isn’t difficult but finding 250 cheap home runs is.
In the case of guys like Ellsbury and Gardner, could you look at them and explain to me how they’re different than Rajai Davis and Michael Bourn? If anything, I’d expect more out of Bourn and Davis because they’re likely to be at the top of their team’s batting order! That said, I’m still balking at taking Davis or Bourn. The goal in team construction isn’t to destroy one category, it’s to accumulate the most possible points in all categories. By selecting one of these speed-only players, you’re doing one of two things – relying on them to carry you in the stolen bases category, so one injury and you’re going to be sunk, and you’re going to end up with too many stolen bases and not enough in other categories. It’s all about opportunity cost.
If you’ve assembled your team to be competitive in stolen bases you will find the stolen bases you need to get over the hump in the very last rounds of your draft and/or during the season. For examples, see below. Listed are players that were drafted outside of the Top 200 in each of the last two years and players that weren’t added to most rosters until after the season began.
Juan Pierre – 68
Scott Podsednik – 35 (most of which was before being traded in July)
Cliff Pennington – 29
In season call-ups/promotions
Angel Pagan – 37
Will Venable – 29
Andres Torres – 26
Jose Tabata – 19
Michael Bourn – 61
Nyjer Morgan – 42
Juan Pierre – 30 (most were during Manny Ramirez’s “estrogen” suspension)
Scott Podsednik – 30
Willie Bloomquist – 25
In season call-ups/promotions
Rajai Davis – 41
Brett Gardner – 26
Everth Cabrera – 25
Julio Borbon – 19
It’s going to depend league to league exactly how many stolen bases you need to be in the Top 3 in stolen bases, but if you’re able to get one player from each of the above groups and add them to a mix including players like Mark Reynolds, Colby Rasmus and Ian Desmond among other quality mid-round players, that will steal a few bases and you will be well on your way to a league title.
Oh, you probably want to know who those players are, don’t you? Highlight these guys for your draft.
… and highlight these guys as players to possibly add during the season.
Eric Young Jr.
There will be more. Just keep up with us during the season and we’ll let you know who.