When it comes to steals, Major League Baseball is a long way from the 1980s.In the past 40 years, the three lowest MLB-wide stolen-base totals during a non-shortened season came in '15, '16 and '17. And after a campaign in which six players compiled 30 steals while 41 men went
When it comes to steals, Major League Baseball is a long way from the 1980s.
In the past 40 years, the three lowest MLB-wide stolen-base totals during a non-shortened season came in '15, '16 and '17. And after a campaign in which six players compiled 30 steals while 41 men went deep at least 30 times, the fantasy value of speedsters continues to reach new heights.
Rather than relying mostly on the waiver wire for steals, fantasy owners can find value-grabbing opportunities on draft day by comparing the Yahoo Sports Fantasy Baseball Average Draft Position (ADP) numbers with the MLB.com Player Preview rankings. In particular, the following 10 players are worthy of strong consideration.
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Trea Turner, shortstop (Nationals): With 81 steals in 198 career games, Turner arguably ranks behind only Billy Hamilton for his stolen-base ceiling. And unlike the other potential 50-steal options, the 24-year-old has the plate skills (career .304 average, 25 homers across 759 at-bats) to be a difference maker across the board while setting the table for a productive Nats lineup.
MLB.com ranking: 4
Yahoo ADP: 8
Dee Gordon, center fielder (Mariners): With all due respect to Turner and Hamilton, Gordon may be the safest source of elite steals production. Seattle's new center fielder has swiped at least 58 bases in three of the past four seasons, and he tallied 30 stolen bases over 79 games in the 2016 campaign during that span. The 29-year-old is also a lifetime .293 hitter who could tally 100-plus runs while batting atop the Mariners' lineup, giving him the potential to make a major impact in three categories.
MLB.com ranking: 23
Yahoo ADP: 37
Lorenzo Cain, outfielder (Brewers): Having hit at least .300 with more than 25 steals in three of the past four seasons -- and 15-plus homers in two of the past three -- Cain is a terrific multi-category speedster for those who miss out on the likes of Turner and Gordon. Set to serve as a table-setter for a Brewers club with a potentially potent lineup and an aggressive baserunning philosophy, the 31-year-old could post career-best marks in runs scored and stolen bases.
MLB.com ranking: 57
Yahoo ADP: 94
Whit Merrifield, second baseman, (Royals): Merrifield was one of last season's most surprising breakout players, hitting .288 with 19 homers and an American League-leading 34 steals after opening the campaign in the Minors. While the second baseman's ability to sustain that level of power is in question, fantasy owners shouldn't doubt Merrifield's stolen-base prowess. After all, he posted 143 steals over 725 career games at the developmental levels. And though the 29-year-old may see his run-scoring potential inhibited by an unimpressive Royals lineup, manager Ned Yost may give him the green light more often in an effort to spark the offense.
MLB.com ranking: 67
Yahoo ADP: 97
Yoan Moncada, second baseman (White Sox): Moncada didn't exactly hit the ground running in his first extended big league trial, stealing only three bases and hitting .231. But on a positive note, the youngster showed solid pop (eight homers across 199 at-bats) and a strong batting eye (12.6 percent walk rate). He also posted an elite average sprint speed of 29.3 ft./sec., per Statcast™, suggesting his stolen-base numbers with the White Sox may soon start looking more like those from his Minor League tenure (111 steals in 267 career games).
MLB.com ranking: 143
Yahoo ADP: 162
Ozzie Albies, second baseman (Braves): Albies showed an exciting blend of skills as a rookie, producing a .286/.354/.456 slash line with six home runs and eight steals in 244 plate appearances. He had 29 stolen bases combined between Triple-A and the Majors last year, reaching that mark for the third straight season (29 in '15, 30 in '16). Set to serve as the Braves' everyday second baseman, the 21-year-old is a major breakout candidate in '18.
MLB.com ranking: 165
Yahoo ADP: 200
Kevin Kiermaier, outfielder (Rays): Kiermaier has topped out at 21 steals over the past three seasons (18 in '15, 21 in '16, 16 in '17), but wise owners will notice that the outfielder has missed major chunks of time with injuries in two straight years. With better health this time around, the 27-year-old could eclipse the 20-homer and 25-steal plateaus while scoring more than 80 runs.
MLB.com ranking: 136
Yahoo ADP: 204
Delino DeShields, outfielder (Rangers): While DeShields had some stretches of mixed-league relevance last season, he also spent plenty of time on the bench en route to compiling 440 plate appearances. But with Carlos Gomez out of the center-field picture, the door is open for DeShields to hold a full-time role this year. And considering he swiped 29 bags in '17, a 40-steal campaign isn't out of the question.
MLB.com ranking: 187
Yahoo ADP: 242
Jose Peraza, 2B/SS (Reds): After swiping 21 bases across 256 plate appearances in '16, Peraza needed 518 PAs to steal 23 bags last year. The diminished pace was largely a result of the speedster making fewer trips to first base, as he posted a .297 on-base percentage a year ago (.352 OBP in '16). But with small plate-skill improvements and better batted-ball luck in '18 (.293 BABIP in '17), the 23-year-old could reach the 30-steal plateau while functioning as the Reds' starting shortstop.
MLB.com ranking: 234
Yahoo ADP: 255
Cameron Maybin, outfielder, (Marlins): Maybin is the perfect target for those who seek steals in the final rounds of their drafts, as he ranked fifth in the Majors with 33 stolen bases last year despite hitting .228 and playing only 114 games. Even if he continues to deal with injuries, the 30-year-old could make another run at the 30-steal mark while playing regularly for a Marlins club that may need to rely on its speed to maximize its run-scoring chances.
MLB.com ranking: 280
Yahoo ADP: Undrafted