Surprise Thieves: Gamel, Beltran, and Heyward

In the winter and spring we often hear about how a player wants to steal more bases to add another dimension to the came. Often times this is just talk, but there are always a few players who surprise some with their legs through the first few weeks of the season. Here are three players I have been surprised about in regards to how frequently they have run and how successful they have been so far.

Mat Gamel

In 12 games this season, Gamel has already surpassed his entire stolen base total from last year, when he played 138 games between triple-A and the majors. He is currently 3-0 in stolen bases, and while he has hit decently enough to get consideration in NL only leagues or as a corner infielder, adding the speed dimension to his game could make him substantially more valuable. It is unclear at this point if running will become a regular part of his game, but it is worth monitoring how many times he runs over the next few weeks and worth speculating if you are in a deeper league.

Carlos Beltran

Beltan’s tremendous start to the season has been evident in more places than just at the plate. He has played solid right field defense and has also been effective on the base paths. He has attempted a steal four times and has been successful with three of them. The re-addition of speed to Beltran’s game looks like it could be sustainable as long as he stays healthy, and the Cardinals could run him a lot as he is hitting regularly in the two-spot in the lineup. The days of 25+ steals are likely well past Beltran, but I could see him reaching the upper teens with a healthy season.

Jason Heyward

Heyward has been a fantasy machine so far in 2012, currently ranking 26th overall in Yahoo! leagues. The ranking would be higher with more runs and RBI, but his average, home runs, and steals are all looking good so far. The steals have been especially surprising, as he is already stolen four bases on four attempts. If you look at’s projected player card, which just projects current stats over a 162 game season, Heyward would steal 54 bases. Obviously he will not reach that mark, but he could reach 30 steals if he remains healthy and productive offensively throughout the year. If you took a risk on drafting Heyward after his poor 2011, you are currently getting everything you could have hoped for and more in the early parts of 2012 — especially on the base paths.

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Ben has been at RotoGraphs since 2012 and focuses most of his fantasy baseball attention toward dynasty and keeper leagues.

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another month of this from heyward and he almost justifies his ADP regardless of what else he does all season