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Four Stolen Base Surgers for 2015 Fantasy Baseball

Draft preparation 101: Billy Hamilton steals bases and Giancarlo Stanton hits home runs. Note: everyone knows that.

If you want to win a fantasy baseball championship, you need to dig deeper to discover the unknowns that will either slip in drafts or should be highlighted on your draft day rankings.

Luckily, I’m more than happy to identify those gentlemen for you! Below are four barn-burning base stealers that your run of the mill fantasy owner may overlook and could massively out-produce last year’s numbers.

 

Mookie Betts - OF / 2B, BOS

There may not be a sexier fantasy pick than Mookie Betts right now. He’s having a scorching hot spring training and is coming off a strong rookie performance, sporting an .851 OPS in 52 games last year. Mookie had a modest 7 SB last year during his time at the show, and another 33 in AA and AAA.

Savvy fantasy owners already have Mookie on their radar as a stolen base target, but some are projecting a modest amount in the low 20s; reality is that Mookie could very well approach 30+ stolen bases. Now that he’s more comfortable at the Big League level, he may be more open to swiping bags.

Since 2013, he’s stolen 86 bases, having only been caught 20 times. Clearly he’ll have the green light in Boston with a success rate like that, and his strong OBP skills mean that he’ll have plenty of opportunities. Be careful not to buy too high on Mookie, but the sky looks like the limit for this guy, and he has the stolen base potential to be a game changer.

 

Billy Burns - OF, OAK

As of this writing, Billy Burns is batting .377 in 53 at bats with four steals. This guy is a fiend on the base paths and hopefully you can scoop him up late in drafts before other owners realize what they missed. Unlike Betts, Burns is more of a raw product.

His playing time is still up in the air and will largely depend on how he finishes spring training, but he’s the type of player that can bring a major base stealing pedigree to your team. Through AA and AAA, Burns stole 54 bags in just 119 games in 2014. The year before, he swiped 74 bases.

While the stolen bases are stratospheric, beware that Burns bring zero power, a limited average, and a lot of uncertainty around playing time. But if you’re in daily roto leagues, Burns can absolutely be an asset with his crazy stolen base potential, while most of your competitors don’t even know his name!

 

Jason Kipnis - 2B, CLE

Jason Kipnis is coming off a down year in 2014, but make sure he’s on your radar for 2015. Despite a lackluster year, Kipnis maintained a respectable level of base stealing (22), but owners had higher expectations after he swiped 31 and 30 in each of the two prior years.

Kipnis has all the tools to slide right back into the 30 SB area; despite the decline in 2014, he was still wildly efficient, stealing 22 bags in 25 opportunities. Clearly he lacked many opportunities as a result of his .240 average and time spent on the disabled list. Kipnis suffered some poor luck on balls in play and couldn’t get rid of the injury bug in 2014, but you should be bullish on his 2015 numbers, particularly on the base paths.

 

Gregory Polanco - OF, PIT

Gregory Polanco is listed at 6’4” 220 lbs, which isn’t your typical base stealing build, but man is this guy athletic! Last year was considered a disappointment in many minds, but at 23 years old, Polanco’s potential is through the roof. He swiped 14 bags last year while batting .235 with a .307 OBP in just 89 games; clearly he’s capable of much, much more as the rest of his game evens out.

If Polanco hits for a respectable average (he should), 30 stolen bases is a legitimate possibility, with upside closer to 35. That will likely surprise a lot of fantasy owners, who may remember Polanco batting .213 in the second half last year instead of the guy that is hyped as Andrew McCutchen-lite.

 




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