2017 Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy: Ranking the Top 10 late-round steals options
It looks like stolen bases are going to be in high demand on Draft Day, especially for you Roto fanatics. Heath Cummings goes searching for steals you can pick up after Round 18.
With the 2016 power surge we saw, it seems you can find home runs almost anywhere.
The same cannot be said for stolen bases.
Base runners stole 2,537 bases in 2016, the second lowest total since the turn of the century. What’s worse, it seems there are fewer players who are both good hitters and good base-stealers. That means if you miss those few players in a Rotisserie league you may be speculating on steals late in the draft.
That’s why we’re here.
I went back-and-forth on whether to rank these players by projected steals or ADP and settled on my ranking. Know that, especially in Roto, rankings are only a guide. All of these guys are going after the 18th round. At that point in the draft, if you’re desperate for steals, you aren’t going to care if the rankings say it’s too early to take them.
Still, some of these players are both cheap steals options and great Draft Day values. Especially the first one.
Jason Heyward Chi. Cubs Cubs RF
|ADP: 263 My Rank: 175 | Not your traditional steals specialist, just a huge value that will likely swipe 15-20 bags. I know Heyward was terrible last season, but he’s a 27 year-old who hit .293 and stole 23 bases in 2015. Unless the Monstars are here to make a new Space Jam for baseball and stole his talents I don’t see how he isn’t a huge value at his current ADP.|
Jarrod Dyson Seattle Mariners CF
|My Rank: 236 ADP: 252 | Averaged 31 steals a year over the past five seasons despite never getting more than 337 plate appearances. That seems like his floor in Seattle with an everyday role being a real possibility. Some have even speculated Dyson could lead off for the Mariners, which would also make him a contributor in runs. Either way, he’s the best late-round bet to top 40 steals.|
Kevin Kiermaier Tampa Bay Rays CF
|My Rank: 257 ADP: 223 | More Jason heyward than Jarrod Dyson, but with more steals upside. Kiermaier stole 21 bases in just 105 games in 2016 and that was with some pretty terrible batted ball luck. If he plays 150 games he could approach 35 steals. I like him more as an overall player than Dyson but I wouldn’t expect him to swipe as many bags.|
Manuel Margot San Diego Padres CF
|My Rank: 258 ADP: 257 | He has a low floor, but Margot also comes with big upside. He stole 103 bases over the past three seasons in the minors and should get plenty of green lights atop the Padres lineup. What he does besides run will determine his value. He should hit for contact but if he flashes the doubles and triples power he showed in the minors he could be a Rookie of the Year candidate.|
Rajai Davis Oakland Athletics CF
|My Rank: 259 ADP: 237 | The 43 bases Davis swiped in 2016 would probably put him at the top of this list, but there’s plenty of reason to be concerned, starting with the fact that he’s 36 years old. Outside of steals, Davis has been a borderline-useful player so it also wouldn’t be a surprise if he lost playing time at some point this year.|
Travis Jankowski San Diego Padres CF
|My Rank: 260 ADP: 343 | Spent the second half of 2016 being overlooked and it doesn’t look like anything has changed. Jankowski stole 26 bases in 82 starts last year. If you told me he was going to start 140 games I’d move him up above Jarrod Dyson, but there are plenty of playing time concerns.|
Cesar Hernandez Philadelphia Phillies 2B
|My Rank: 265 ADP: 306 | Hernandez is a two-category contributor with average and steals, though the steals may pale in comparison to most of the options offered on this list. I do believe there’s upside in this Phillies offense, which could propel him closer to 80 runs and make him a valuable middle infield option.|
Jacoby Ellsbury N.Y. Yankees Yankees CF
|My Rank: 275 ADP: 234 | I know, it’s getting pretty gross. As bad as Ellsbury was in 2016 he still stole 20 bases. At 33 years old there is a chance his skills continue to deteriorate, but if you’re desperate for steals in the final rounds of the draft you could do worse than betting on a bounceback effort from Ellsbury.|
Josh Harrison Pittsburgh Pirates 2B
|My Rank: 290 ADP: 317 | Harrison won’t kill you in average and could be decent in the runs category as well. The real key to him making the leap in the steals category would just be playing 150 games. His 150-game pace last season was 22 steals. If he could reach 150 games for the first time in his career and repeat his .347 OBP from 2014 he may have a shot at 25 steals.|
Alcides Escobar Kansas City Royals SS
|My Rank: 317 ADP: 311 | This free swinger could get back to 30 stolen bases with a little better batted ball luck. Escobar has a career BABIP of .297 but posted a .344 in 2012 and a .326 in 2014. Not surprisingly, those are also the two years he topped 30 stolen bases. Even if he doesn’t get that fortunate he’s a safe bet to approach 20 steals.|
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