In previous years, the vast majority of stolen bases were obtained by a few players (Crawford, Reyes, Upton, etc). If you did not own one of these elite basestealers, your team was out of luck. The trend began changing over the past two seasons, as more teams are becoming more aggressive on the basepaths. Therefore, the chances of posting reasonable stolen base numbers at a decent price have improved. The following are basestealers you can buy at a reasonable price.
Julio Borbon (OF, Rangers)—probably the best young speed threat available, Borbon will hit atop the Rangers’ lineup. He will be among the best in baseball in stolen bases and should be purchased at any price below $22.
Brett Gardner (OF, Yankees)—Gardner is one of my favorite stolen base sleepers. Gardner has a reasonably secure position in the Yankees lineup, and assuming Winn/Thames do not challenge his playing time, I see him stealing 30 bases this season, which is a bargain assuming he is available for under $12.
Drew Stubbs (OF, Reds)—Stubbs takes over in CF for the Reds and he can run. I think he will hit enough to remain in the lineup and should steal around 30 bases. Hook ‘em.
Alcides Escobar (SS, Brewers)—Escobar will be expensive in prospect-following leagues, but the Brewers’ young shortstop is great on the basepaths. He should steal up to 40 bases.
Cliff Pennington (SS, A’s)—Pennington is a former first round pick who surprised many with his play last season. He will begin the season as Oakland’s starting shortstop and can steal 25 bases. The concerns are his limited track record and the potential replacements in the minor leagues (i.e., Grant Green).
Carlos Gomez (OF, Brewers)—Gomez is a great speed player hitting leadoff for the Brewers, but there is a Wily Taveras concern. In other words, while Gomez’s stolen base numbers is only limited by his offensive production, hitting might be a problem.
Everth Cabrera (SS, Padres)—Cabrera was great stealing bases last season and the trend will continue in 2010. Look for him to steal 30 bases.
Chris Getz (2B, Royals)—the question here is playing time. Getz is fast, but KC’s infield is crowded. Expect 10 to 20 steals depending on how often he plays.
Ian Desmond (SS, Nationals)—the recently-named Nationals’ starter can steal 30 bases. While Desmond can run, do not bid Escobar-money because Christian Guzman and Adam Kennedy could still affect his playing time.
Juan Pierre (OF, White Sox)—Pierre’s role with the Dodgers limited his stolen base production, but he now finds himself starting for the Chicago White Sox. Pierre can easily steal 30-40 bases, and many are targeting him at their #1 sleeper, projecting up to 60 steals. I think he’s a moderate sleeper, but I would avoid bidding over $20 because there is risk Pierre will have problems producing enough offense. Also, Pierre is now 33-34 years old, which is pretty old for a player who relies on speed.
Scott Posednik (OF, Royals)—see Pierre, except bid $5-10 less.
Kaz Matsui (2B, Astros)—the epitome of a lambasted player who can help your fantasy team, Kaz stole at least 20 bases the past three seasons. If you can buy him for around $8, take him.
Rafael Furcal (SS, Dodgers)—he has not run the past several seasons with the Dodgers, but is faster than last year’s stolen base numbers indicate. Most likely, an owner who did not read last year’s stats will buy Furcal at an inflated price. However, considering Furcal is a decent player, it is not unreasonable to bid $15 hoping for a surprise uptick in stolen bases.
Luis Castillo (2B, Mets)—see Furcal, except bid $3-5 less.
Maicer Izturis (IF, Angels)—a great source of steals assuming you can grab him near the end of your draft. Although he is a backup infielder, he always seems to obtain enough at bats to steal 10-15 bases.
Joaquin Arias (IF, Rangers)—I always liked Arias since the Rangers acquired him from the Yankees because his playing style reminds me of one of my favorite players, Devon White. The departure of Khalil Greene along with Ian Kinsler going on the DL should clear a roster spot, and Arias is worth grabbing at league minimum b/c he can steal bases as a backup.
Emilio Bonifacio (IF/OF, Marlins)—Bonifacio was incredible the first two weeks last season before going downhill. He cannot hit very well, but he can swipe 10 bases off the bench this season, making him worthwhile for a final roster spot in a deep league.
Julio Lugo (SS, Cardinals)—Lugo has become a forgotten man in the Cardinals’ infield. He will fight for AB’s, but he can run. It is also possible he will crack the lineup, resulting in 20 stolen bases at a very cheap price.