Finding stolen bases is one of the more difficult tasks for fantasy owners, especially as power grows around the game. Why risk getting caught, taking a base runner away, when anyone seems to be able to put the ball over the fence at any time? Unfortunately for fantasy owners stolen bases remain a category so finding them is paramount. Who are the under-the-radar options that could help? Let’s take a look:
Oscar Mercado – Cleveland Indians
Mercado has been in a bit of a slump, and that’s caused many to question his value moving forward. Slumps happen, but that doesn’t mean he can’t turn it around and be a difference maker down the stretch. Known for his speed, over the past few seasons he’s put up stolen base totals of 50, 33, 38 and 37. Even while he hasn’t been running much in the Majors this season he’s managed 20 total stolen bases, with 14 coming at Triple-A and 6 in 187 PA in the Majors (entering the All-Star Break).
While in the Majors Mercado has shown a willingness to try and use his speed (45.9% groundball rate) and an ability to hit the ball hard (42.6%). While he hasn’t walked much (4.3% walk rate), he was at an 11.4% mark at Triple-A prior to his recall and should be able to routinely get himself on base (he currently has a .328 OBP, but that should get better).
With the Indians offense continuing to struggle he has the potential to put the pressure on defenses and make a difference with his legs. Would it really be surprising to see him steal 10-15 bases in the second half, if not more?
Charlie Tillson – Chicago White Sox
Tillson started the final three games before the All-Star Break, and if he continues to find his name in the lineup he could provide under-the-radar value for fantasy owners. Sure he struggled, going 1-11 in that span, but he did steal one base and has 8 SB in 263 PA between Triple-A and the Majors.
Let’s not forget he’s the same player who stole 46 bases at Double-A in ’15 and had 12 SB in 413 PA last season. That may not be a true difference maker, but if you can find 10 SB at no cost you need to try and take advantage of it.
Manuel Margot – San Diego Padres
Finding playing time has become the biggest question, but with Wil Myers struggling Margot has started to pick up AB again. Since June 1 he has 5 SB, placing him tied for 16th in baseball, and he’s done it with just 73 PA. If he continues to see his playing time grow he suddenly could become a significant threat. Of course we’d be a bigger believer if he was popping up less (18.0% IFFB) and walking more (6.7% walk rate), but there’s enough here to buy.
Source – Fangraphs