by Will Overton
One of the things you’ll find me preaching here over and over is that if you want to win your league you need to know your team and your standings. You need to be aware of not where you are overall in the standings, but where you are in each individual category as well.
If you are winning home runs by 20 you need to know it. If you are within five stolen bases of gaining or losing three of four points, you need to know it. A successful fantasy owner constantly knows where he stands and knows what can gain him the most ground in the standings at all times.
Knowing your standings isn’t enough though, you also need to know how to change your standings. If you are blowing people away in the power numbers, but in the middle of the road in steals, it does you no good to add a big homerun hitter off the waiver wire, even if that guy is the best player available. Every move you make should have a purpose, whether it’s a trade or free agent signing, if it isn’t going to affect the standings, it’s just a waste of time.
If you are in that spot where you need stolen bases, I am going to highlight a handful of guys who can help get you there. These guys might not be real well rounded, but they can help you target a specific stat which might be what you really need.
Adam Eaton – OF, Chicago White Sox: This is your golden ticket if he’s available in your league. Eaton has been struggling these last couple of weeks and really since he came back from an injury early in May. Those struggles have frustrated fantasy owners and now Eaton is available in right around half of leagues. The struggles are there, but if you have the patience to ride it out, Eaton could reward you by being one of the best stolen base guys of the second half. In 2012 Eaton stole 44 bases in the minor leagues, before being called up for the month of September. The White Sox seem committed to using Eaton as an everyday guy and when he snaps out of this slump the steals are going to start coming.
Danny Santana – SS, Minnesota Twins: What a pleasant surprise Danny Santana has been for the Minnesota Twins so far. Santana has played himself into what has become a regular spot in the lineup seeing time at shortstop, center field and even designated hitter a couple of times. Santana’s .373 batting average is what will jump out at you when you look at him, but with a BABIP over .450 and a strikeout rate around 27%, that’s not going to last.
What is real and lasting for fantasy owners is his speed. Santana has stolen four bases in his last eight games and that kind of speed should continue. Santana stole 30 bases last season at AA and that doesn’t seem to even be his ceiling as a base stealer. The Twins love to play small ball and run and Santana is a guy who could really benefit from that here.
James Jones – OF, Seattle Mariners: Another young guy whose fantasy impact has come a bit out of nowhere is James Jones. The Mariners called Jones up to man center field and also bat leadoff for the team. Jones has held his own with a .269 average, 17 runs and 6 steals thus far. Jones has a combined total of 54 steals the last two seasons in the minor leagues and a total of 11 steals this year between the minor leagues and big leagues. Jones has cooled off a little bit, but Seattle doesn’t look eager to give his job away. It’s very reasonable to believe that Jones can steal 5 – 6 bases per month for the Mariners as long as he continues to play regularly.
Drew Stubbs – OF, Colorado Rockies: This is a tough one. Drew Stubbs has been excellent so far this season with a .331 average, a little bit of power and a perfect seven for seven on steal attempts. The problem here, the Rockies outfield is a bit crowded with guys who are having good years so far and Stubbs is building a reputation as a lefty hitting specialist. Ideally the way Stubbs is playing as a whole will earn him more starts against right handers, but he needs someone else to start struggling to open up a bigger door. The speed is legit with Stubbs who has stolen 117 bases over the last four seasons, but you’re taking a risk on playing time. In a deep league this might be your best option and if you can pay close enough attention and stream him in with another outfielder, he’s worth the risk.
Eugenio Suarez – SS, Detroit Tigers: Eugenio Suarez is a bit more of a wild card then the other guys on this list. The Tigers just called Suarez up from Triple-A earlier this week and all indications are that he’s going to get a shot to be the everyday shortstop. Suarez has speed, but he hasn’t always shown it. In 2012 he stole 21 bases, but last season it was just 11. However, prior to being called up this year he already had nine and clearly looks to be running more.
Now that he’s on the Tigers his running opportunities could increase even further. The Tigers have gone from never running to being one of the top ten base stealing teams in baseball under Brad Ausmus. I expect we’ll see Suarez get the green light often if he can win this job and get on base regularly. There’s a lot of upside in Suarez as not only a base stealer, but in several areas that could benefit fantasy owners.