Welcome back to the 2009 RotoRob MLB Draft Kit. Over the next few weeks, we will be rolling out cheat sheets with analysis, essays and the classic Top 10 Lists that Fantasy Owners Always Wanted But Were Afraid to Ask For, a compendium of 10 Top 10 lists that no fantasy owner should be without. We’ll continue that today with Alex’s offering of the Top 10 source of Cheap Steals.
This is all these players do – steal bases. They can’t hit for an extremely high average, have no power, but they will steal bases. Who are they?
We know the Chone Figgins, Willy Taveras and Denard Span types will rack up the steals, but none of them will come cheap. So, we’re going to focus on players who will likely be late-round bargains who can help you win this category.
1. Michael Bourn, OF, Houston Astros – Projected 40-50 steals. If Bourn is to keep his starting gig in Astro-Land, he needs to improve upon his .230 batting average last year. When he does reach first base, he instantly becomes a weapon on the base path. Look for him to improve slightly and get more chances to steal. Last year he stole 42 bases, but expect him to approach 50 this year. If he struggles at the plate for an extended timeframe to open the season, I would not be surprised to see Houston look for other options. Personally, I would rather have Jason Bourne, but that is neither here nor there…
2. Carlos Gomez, OF, Minnesota Twins – Projected 30-35 steals. Gomez finds himself in the same category as Bourn. Improve or lose you job. Gomez is quite the base stealer and could some day easily steal 60, but he has trouble getting on base to do so. Last season, his on base percentage was .289, which is awful. I am sure coaches are working tirelessly on this project to find ways to get him on base. Last year he was sort of a pop out machine, so he did not even get to utilize his speed to leg out base hits. I still think Gomez is a lock for 30 steals, as he has too much talent and there is too much potential to see this guy on the Twinkies bench.
3. Jerry Owens, OF, Chicago White Sox – Projected 20-30 steals. Owens received some playing time last year with the injury of Carlos Quentin. Now, he finds himself battling for the centrefield job with DeWayne Wise. If Owens wins it he could approach 30 steals this year, but he does not do much more than steal. He won’t go yard, and he won’t drive in runs, so be careful with this one trick fantasy pony.
4. Elvis Andrus, SS, Texas Rangers – Projected 25-35 steals. After Texas moved Michael Young to third base, the starting job at short belongs to the organization’s prized prospect. Andrus had over 50 steals last year at Triple-A, even after missing nearly a month with a broken hand. Elvis has some pop in his bat, but during his rookie campaign, he can only be relied upon for steals and runs. Eventually he could become a 15-20 home run guy, but we will have to see how he adjusts.
5. Coco Crisp, OF, Kansas City Royals – 20-30 steals. Crisp will get a chance to play every day in Kansas City and he is sure to improve on his part-time numbers from last year. He is a veteran who knows how to get on base and move himself to second base. He may be a sleeper this year as he gets more at bats and more chances to shine. Crisp has never been a huge steal guy, but has consistently been in the 20s.
6. Nyger Morgan, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates – Projected 20-35 steals. The Pirates are banking on Morgan to be their opening day lead-off hitter and premier base stealer. He has been inconsistent with the big league chances he has received, but there is no denying his raw speed that could be harnessed to produce big thievery numbers.
7. Juan Pierre, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers – Projected 15-25 steals. The signing of Manny Ramirez crushes the fantasy potential of Pierre this year, unless he gets traded. Without Manny, Pierre projects to steal over 40, but with him only around 20. Pierre is the last man out in a crowded Dodger outfield and there is no way anyone in their right mind would sit Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, or Man-Ram in favour of Pierre in their everyday lineup. Pierre could still be an effective source of steals if you could start him only when you know he will play. Just add another person to the growing list of Manny Ramirez haters.
8. Felipe Lopez, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks – Projected 20 steals. Last season was a bit of a write-off for Lopez, as he failed to even reach double digits in steals. But consider two numbers: (a) 44, as in the number of bases he stole just two seasons ago; and (b) .360, as in his batting average after the break last season. Combine these two and you’ve got a major comeback on your hands, one you can invest in cheaply.
9. Julio Lugo, SS, Boston Red Sox – Projected 20 steals. After missing a huge chunk of 2008 thanks to a quad injury, Lugo has to compete to regain his starting shortstop job. So far, he looks like he’s up to the task, and if he can wrestle the gig back from Jed Lowrie, that projected steal total will look very conservative.
10. Randy Winn, OF, San Francisco Giants – Projected 20 steals. Okay, so he’s not exactly tearing the cover off the ball this spring, but that’s all the more reason he will once again fly slightly below the radar on draft day. But when you look up at season’s end and see another quality line from Winn, you’ll wonder why you constantly ignore him on draft day.