Thursday, March 1, 2018

Fantasy Focus: Chasing Steals and 20/20 Guys

Stolen Bases are way down around MLB for several reasons.  They have long been a target of sabermetric enthusiasts as a bad bet.  Statistically, you need around a 70% success rate for them to be a net benefit.  Instant replay has made it harder to successfully steal bases.  A runner can beat the throw by 10 feet and still be out if he comes off the bag for a nanosecond.  More and more, the benefit of that extra base is just not worth the risk.  SB's are still a category in most fantasy baseball formats so a strategy for dealing with them is essential.  One viable strategy is to just punt the category.  The seasons I have had the most success in fantasy baseball are the ones where I have just filled my roster with guys who hit dingers, period.  I generally don't advise completely punting any category, but if you have to punt 1, Steals is your choice.

Another very viable strategy is to overpay for the 2 guys who can give you a lot of SB's, Billy Hamilton and Dee Gordon, then fill up the rest of your roster with dinger hitters.  Last year, Hamilton stole 60 bases and Gordon stole 59.  Nobody else was above 35 and only 2 others had as many as 30. So, if you had both Hamilton and Gordon, you had a great shot at winning the category even if the rest of your team had zero.

The other time-honored strategy is to stockpile 20/20 guys.  The problem with this strategy is the paucity of players who fit that description and 20 dingers ain't what it used to be.  If you have a roster full of 20 dinger players, you will likely come up short in the power categories.  As you will see, players with 20 SB's and over 30 dingers are extremely rare and you will pay a high price.  Here is a list of all 8 20/20 players from last season(HR/SB):

Jose Altuve- 24/32.

Mookie Betts- 24/26.

Tommy Pham- 23/25.

Elvis Andrus- 20/25.

Brett Gardner- 21/23.

Mike Trout- 33/22.

Andrew Benintendi- 20/20.

Wil Myers- 30/20.

That's it.  Paul Goldschmidt went 36/18.


  1. Bradley Zimmer, Ozzie Albies, Jonathan Villar, Manuel Margot, Kevin Kermeier, Yoan Moncada, and Ronald Acuna are all players outside the first 10 rounds that can help you in SB's and if you get 4-5 of them you will be fine without overspending on Gordon or Hamilton. Marte is also a great bounce back candidate to go 15-30+ next season.

    I hate to punt a category like you mentioned but instead of punting SB's this season I am punting Avg. I figure that if I load up on guys like Schwarber, Olson, Gallo, and Lomo along with a few top pics and the guys I mentioned above I figure it will be enough to win 4 out of 5 catagories with Avg. being the one weakness. I did it most of last year and was able to compete offensively without having the top players.

    1. If you field a team with 4 or 5 of the guys you listed, you will get absolutely killed in the other offensive categories.

      Maximizing dingers is actually very sound fantasy strategy.

    2. You mentioned above how valuable 20/20 guys are and I gave you 7 guys outside of the first 10 rounds who are all legitimate 20/20 candidates this season. Do the projections and at the very least you will have double digit HR's and close to 20 or more steals for middle to late round picks from each of these players. If you draft 5-6 power bats in the first 10 rounds you should be fine. If you decide to focus only on power than you are likely to lose not only SB's but also Avg.

    3. Talk is cheap, here are last years numbers and my predictions. At the end of the season we can see how far off I was.

      Zimmer - last year - 8/18 in 299 AB's - this year - 10/25
      Albies - last year - 6/8 in 217 AB's - this year - 10/20
      Villar - last year - 11/23 in 403 AB's - this year - 15/30
      Moncada - last year - 8/3 in 199 AB's - this year - 20/15
      Kermeier - last year - 15/16 in 380 AB's - this year - 20/20
      Margot - last year - 13/17 in 487 AB's - this year - 15/20
      Acuna - last year - minors - this year - 15/15

      Those are very realistic projections for players who are all reaching their primes or close to them. All of these guys will likely kill you in Avg but that is kind of the point, find the dingers and SB's late in the draft and if you commit to punting Avg you still have the other 4 categories covered.

    4. I see one 20/20 projection in there. I think you just proved my point.

    5. I also said in my original post that if you roster a bunch of 20/20 guys, you will likely come up short in the power categories.