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3 Potential 2012 Stolen Base Decliners

On Monday, I compared the Spd Score metric with a hitter’s stolen base total to highlight three players who may experience a surge in the steals category next season. Today, I will look at the opposite, three hitters whose stolen base total is much higher than expected given their Spd scores. As a result, they may be in danger of contributing fewer steals for your fantasy team next year.

Ichiro Suzuki | 6.0 Spd, 40 SBs

I feel like predictions of his impending collapse have been made on an annual basis. But you have to assume that at some point they will finally be correct. Although his Spd score of 6.0 did represent a jump from his 2009 and 2010 seasons, a 6.0 mark is still relatively low for a 40 base stealer. Entering his age 38 season, it gets increasingly difficult to continue projecting 40+ steals. One clue of an impending dropoff is his IFH%. Ichiro has always produced infield hits at a high rate, but in 2011 he posted his lowest rate since 2005 and second lowest mark of his career. That could be the biggest sign that his speed is deteriorating. Coming off his first sub-.300 batting average and BABIP, he should come the cheapest he ever has in drafts. But he still may not be worth the risk.

Juan Pierre | 5.2 Spd, 27 SBs

Juan Pierre, who has already seen his SB total plummet from 68 in 2010 to just 27 in 2011? Yup. Speed is a skill of the young and at age 34, Pierre may be running on fumes. His Spd dipped below 6.0 for the first time in his career, which is the first warning sign. The second, and possibly more ominous sign, is his stolen base success rate. Before 2011, he had been successful 75% of the time, right around the acceptable level. In 2011, he seemingly forgot the art of base stealing, or, simply just lost the speed to make it safely. His success rate dropped to just 61%. For a young player, that may not be a big deal, possibly just a one year fluke. But for a 34-year old, this might signal the beginning of the end. Without the steals and just average defense, it will get harder and harder to justify every day playing time. He does not make for a good rebound candidate in 2012.

Bobby Abreu | 4.4 Spd, 21 SBs

First, the power disappeared. Next will be the stolen bases. Heading into his age-38 season, Abreu’s steals total is going to crash one of these years. His Spd score dropped to its lowest mark since 2003, and the second lowest of his career. Although still a good base stealer judging by success rate, his willingness to run is likely to wane. Given that he cannot play the field anymore, and was never very good at it to begin with, he is forced to DH where his only value comes from his declining offense. If he cannot rediscover his power stroke, how many at-bats could the Angels continue to give a DH who posts a barely above league average wOBA? Like Pierre above, this is not the type of hitter I’m gambling on to rebound.