Yesterday we did the power, today we do the speed. And as you know, “first you get the stolen bases, then you get the runs, then you get the women.” *
“Who is Pittsburgh playing?” is the refrain. “Milwaukee” is the answer early this week, and therefore your shallow league speedster is Norichika Aoki (providing Rickie Weeks is off your wires, since Weeks is runnning again). Aoki-san isn’t the straight speedster that Carlos Gomez is, but he should get on base more often and is a better overall play. Deep leaguers should look at Jean Segura, who is also not a speed demon, but has the ability to pilfer a bag.
The Pirates are by far and away the worst in the business at catching base stealers (10%, 130 against). After them comes a group between 16-20% that includes the Nationals, Twins, Rangers, Indians, Astros, Red Sox and Cubs in that order.
The Astros and Indians get a ‘bonus’ for allowing more than 120 stolen bases, though, so they’re up next on the list. The Astros get St. Louis early this week, though, and they’re not a great place to find stolen bases. Instead, look at the Cleveland vs Minnesota series for some speed — both are at the bottom of the league in defending against base thievery. The Twins have shallow leaguers — Ben Revere at least — and deep leaguers — Darin Mastroianni and Alexi Casilla are your best bets, though you’ll have to watch to make sure they are starting. The Indians return serve with shallow-leaguers Jason Kipnis (if he’s out there) and Michael Brantley (who’s playing again), and deep leaguers Ezequiel Carrera and Brent Lillibridge (if they play).
Over the weekend, it’s the Bucs against the Astros in the Running Wild Weekend Series of the Week (or Weak). The Astros’ Jose Altuve to some lucky shallow league owners, and he might be the only easy play between these two teams. It looks like Jimmy Paredes is playing, at least against righties, and all he has to offer is speed, so he’s the best deep league play. But there are plenty of options beyond — Justin Maxwell at the fore. He’s actually playing every day, and even if he doesn’t have the same speed, he might boast a better overall line than Paredes. And will look about one gazillion bajillion times better while doing it. But style points aren’t a category, which is good news for Paredes and most of the Astros, even if the rag-tag group of semi-useful semi-speedsters like Brandon Barnes, Brian Bogusevic and Jordan Schafer have playing that’s too erratic to predict. The Bucs are playing Starling Marte again, and this matchup makes him interesting in mixed leagues, especially since he’s attempted five steals in his last three games. Deep leaguers will have made that Jose Tabata sighting, but don’t believe he’s atop any depth chart in Pittsburgh right now.
Cleveland invites Kansas City to town over the weekend. Alcides Escobar is your shallow league play. In deeper leagues, there’s opportunity born of crisis here, as Lorenzo Cain is done for the year. That means Jarrod Dyson, one of the fastest men in the bigs, will most likely see playing time. Jason Bourgeois is the other half of the platoon, and he’d be the deep league part of the platoon (he’s a righty with a .511 OPS against right-handers in 224 career at-bats) except that Ned Yost played him against a right-hander recently to ‘see what he would do.’ The ‘good’ news is, you get to watch this develop over three days before the weekend gets here.
Once you get past these matchups, there are a few names that you can throw in a grab bag. Texas is in Seattle (Michael Saunders? Kyle Seager? Trayvon Robinson?), and Boston gets Baltimore (Nate McLouth? Robert Andino? Xavier Avery?). Oh and looky here… Washington gets Milwaukee. Head back to the top of this article and give each of those guys an extra notch in their belts.
* Making a Simpsons reference, not being sexist.