Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NL King - Attacking the SB Category in the NL

For all of you fantasy baseball managers out there, isn't the search for stolen bases one of the toughest in the draft?  In 2011, you might want to keep what I am about to tell you in the back of your mind. If you though power was scarce....... Houston we have a problem! There are hardly any stolen base guys anymore. There was only 8 players who had 30 or more steals in the NL last year. Michael Bourn was the big man on campus with 52 but after that only Angel Pagan broke 35 steals with 37. Nyjer Morgan, Shane Victorino, Andrew McCutchen, Hanley Ramirez, Drew Stubbs & Jose Reyes finsihed between 30 & 34 steals.

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Furthermore there were only 6 NL players to get between 20 and 29 steals in W.Venable (29), C.Young (28), C.Gonzalez & A.Torres (26), R.Furcal (22) & R.Theriot (20).

So how do we game plan our NL only teams regarding stolen bases? Remember the stolen base category counts just as much as any other category. Here are some tips and thoughts regarding this much maligned category.

- Do not spend big bucks on guys who only steal bases. I know M.Bourn is a big stolen base guy but to spend big dollars on a guy who gives you one category in which he excels is not how you win your leagues. Also keep in mind a bit of down year by the player due to performance or injury and then you are really way over paying for those steals. Unless you can get a really good price don't buy on the M.Bourn, N.Morgan, R.Theriot etc of the NL.
- If you spend big dollars on a hitter (let's say $25 or more) that player must give you at least double digit steals. Unless you have a roster with guys at bargain prices who steal then when you go big game hunting on draft day for a hitter make sure that player gives you some SB's.
- Need to put your team together in regards to SB's with depth. While there was only 14 players in the NL last year who had at least 20 steals there was 14 players who stole between 16 - 19 and 24 players between 10 - 14. So we need to have a roster that has depth for this category.
- Another way to attack this category with depth are players who get what I call "Quiet Steals". Quiet steals are guys who give you between 6 & 9 steals. That doesn't sound like a lot of steals but keep this in mind. If you have 4 or 5 hitters that gives you 0 to 2 steals a year versus guys who gives you between 6 & 9 that's roughly 30 steals. That's like having a big steal guy.
- Find cheap steals. What we are looking for is backup - part time players with speed who can give us some steals, maybe even low double digit steals. These players you can get at the end of the draft and will not cost a lot of money. Usually they are backup outfielders so it might not be a bad idea to save your 5th OF spot and UP for this kind of guy. Going into last season Angel Pagan, Will Venable would have fallen into this category and look at many steals they had due to the right circumstances.
- Keep in mind as guys get older there stolen base production will go down. There is a lot of wear and tear stealing bases.
- Stay away from guys who do steal but have had a lot of injury problems in the past because they cannot be counted on for this season. So even though Rafael Furcal stole 22 bases last year due to his age and his past injury problems you cannot count on him for that kind of production going forward. He might do it again or he might really hurt you.
- Once the season starts, look to keep an eye on that waiver wire for this years Andres Torres.

This is a very hard category to navagiate, maybe the toughest. So what you want to do is not get buried in this category. Stay at least in the middle of the pack and if you have a contending team come July you can trade with a rebuilding team for some steals.

Next article analyzing the percentage categories.

NL King - C.Lizza

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