With the end of the season looming, it could be time for you to stream for steals. After all, a directed, focused attack on the leaderboard is all that’s going to work right now. There are categories that you won’t make any headway in. And if steals is one of the categories that is ripe with opportunity, picking the best matchups could net you what you need.
But there’s an easy way and a hard way. As there usually is. But in this case, the easy way may be just as good or better.
The hard way is to look at the matchups on a day-by-day basis. Look at our defensive leaderboards to find the most stolen-on catcher, and then find an available speedster that’s going to face him. Cross your finger that the catcher doesn’t take a foul ball off the thumb tonight, or that the manager doesn’t get tricky with the lineup. Oh, and maybe take a peak at who’s pitching that particular day, to get a sense of how many stolen bases that particular pitcher gives up.
So you’ll find yourself with a speedster facing A.J. Burnett, Tommy Hanson and Ubaldo Jimenez on days that Rod Barajas, Brian McCann and Lou Marson are catching. In fact, those are some good matchups to exploit. A.J. Burnett has given up the most stolen bases in baseball, and Rod Barajas has caught five basestealers in 68 attempts against him (!). So, you can go that way.
But there’s an easier way.
You can actually look at teams as monoliths, and thereby avoid the particular matchups of the day. This will save you from any lineup or matchup shenanigans, and it will also help keep your strategy under wraps. If you make a change every three or six days, it won’t be as noticeable to your leaguemates, and they might not make an effort to block you. So you can look at this team leaderboard, gauge the general talent of the batteries on the other team, and make a three-game selection from your waiver wire.
You could look even larger picture than that. At the end of the season schedule is predictable. In an effort to help divisional races stay exciting, the schedule makers pit teams against teams in their division down the stretch. The Padres, for example, only see six games outside of their division once they finish with Pittsburgh. That’s typical. Since this is true, you could look at each division as a whole, and even pick one speedster for the rest of the season based on his matchups in the final month-plus.
Here’s your divisional leaderboard, then:
|SB||CS||CS%||Best Team||Worst Team|
|NL Central||512||155||0.232||St. Louis||Pittsburgh|
|NL West||344||140||0.289||Arizona||San Diego|
|AL East||349||132||0.274||Toronto||Tampa Bay|
|AL Central||371||169||0.313||Kansas City||Minnesota|
Now you can easily see that the NL Central is the place to be, especially if you’re picking from a non-Pittsburgh team. That should give players like Jon Jay (especially since he’s on the best CS% team in his division), Justin Maxwell and Nyjer Morgan a tiny boost in your estimation. The NL East, and Philly players in particular, also get a leg up here. Juan Pierre and Donovan Solano, come on down, depending on your league depth.
There are plenty of different depths to which you can drill. The point is to do it. Then you can decide how minutely you want to look at the stats.
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