Highlighting Players Available In A Vast Majority Of Leagues Who Can Help You With Steals.
By Mike Kurland / @Mike_Kurland on Twitter
Every year I feel I’m struggling to find speed in drafts and I find it even harder to find steals off the waiver wire. With the juiced ball there are more extra base hits and less singles. Unless you have Tim Anderson or Aldaberto Mondesi you may find steals hard to come by on a consistent basis. There are the have and the have nots when it comes to the steal category and more people are definitely in the have nots side of things.
Well right now there happens to be a lot of help on the waiver wire for people like myself who are struggling in steals in just about every single league. Speed is always an ongoing need and there’s always a market to sell via trades if anything.
This list are all deeper league targets. All of these said players are owned in less than 20% of yahoo leagues but have tremendous steal upside. Let’s dive in.
Oscar Mercado OF, Cleveland Indians
Ownership Percentage 18%
I’ve been talking up Mercado since the off season. He was a guy I started targeting in dynasty leagues last season and began stashing a couple weeks ago in redraft leagues. His speed is legit and he’s the one I’m most excited about on this list. He was a deep sleeper and now that he’s getting this opportunity I’m playing him everywhere I can! He’s 12 team mix league relevant. Especially if there are 5 OF. He has 10-15 home run upside at best I’d say but has legitimate 30 steal upside. Prior to his call up, he had a triple slash of .294/.396/.496 with 4 home runs and 14 steals in 17 attempts. He has a 50 steal season in the minors and no less than 33 since 2014. He has shown an improved walk rate of 11.4% this season. K rate is slightly up a tick compared to previous seasons. It is currently at 22.9% and that could be due to his change in approach. He’s pulling the ball more and trying to grab a few extra home runs which actually shows in his increased pull rate and HR/FB rate. Ultimately, the speed is real and could lead to a decent BABIP and could help in the batting average department as well. If you need speed with some added upside in other areas I believe this is the best target of the group to go after.
Nicky Lopez SS, Kansas City Royals
Ownership Percentage 8%
I can honestly say I was not really expecting this call up right now. This is definitely a prototypical Royals type of player. He is a contact hitting and speed combination that royals consistently produce. He’s been running plenty in the minors and it appears he is going to play second base and Merrifield is going to move to the outfield. If Lopez is playing every day, I’d gladly utilize him in a MI or Utility spot if I have one open and need steals. He’s on a team who loves to run so if he can get on base there’s a good chance you’ll get some steals from him. I do wonder where they’re going to hit him but outside of steals I don’t know what more I’d expect. I guess when your scouring the waiver wire for steals anything extra is a plus. In AAA this year, he has a triple slash of .353/.457/.500 with 3 home runs and 9 steals. The more impressive part of his game is his high walk rates. He typically has over a 10% walk rate and this year it’s at 14.5% and his K Rate is also typically low. He also keeps that around 10% which is amazing. This year it’s a ridiculously low 3.6%. That’s crazy. He is an all fields type of hitter. Hits a few too many ground balls but ultimately a good eye and looks like he’s a good OBP and batting average type with speed upside. He has at least 15 steals in every season since 2016 and he is easily my second favorite player on this list.
Jarrod Dyson OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Ownership Percentage 8%
He is who is he by now in his career. He’s been utilized in a platoon and is on the strong side of said platoon. There’s little upside here outside of the steals but that’s what you need him for. He can be a drag in batting average at times and doesn’t offer much for power. He has 4 steals in the last week and 6 in the last two weeks. Upside is very limited but he gives you the steals you’re looking for. He’s the player I’m least interested in on this list but might be one of the safer to get.
Charlie Tilson OF, Chicago White Sox
Ownership Percentage 2%
Tilson is barely owned and it’s probably belongs that way. He has very little upside. Hard to roster outside of deepest 12 team mixed leagues. He’s more of a 15 team and AL only guy. There are really deep 12 team mixed leagues I do have him rostered but willing to let him go for any of the others I’ve named above or if another hot prospect gets the call. He offers little to no pop but batting average seems to be there. Typically has a decent K rate but walk rate is lower than you’d like. He has had a 46 steal season in 2016 but has not sniffed any steal total near that. Ultimately, I’d say he’s a desperation type of add in anything shallower than 15 team leagues.
Deep League Steal Stash Candidates
Here are a few guys you may want to stash or keep an eye on going forward and jump on once they get the call. These guys are all unowned in yahoo formats. Or at least have a 0% ownership I should say.
Jorge Mateo SS, Athletics
This is a big steal upside guy here. He has some impressive steals numbers. He has had a season with a ridiculous 71 steals. He also has a season with 48 steals. If you’re hurting for speed he’d be a stash for me. He currently has 11 steals this year with a triple slash of .329/.368/.567. He does have 4 home runs already which may be a product of him playing with the MLB baseball in triple A. Typically there is not much more than steals to his game. He’s usually good for batting average but no real power at all so if he can chip in 10 home runs or so that would be a huge bonus. If you are middling in speed and missed on the group above or can afford to sit on Mateo over Dyson or Tilson I’d make that move.
Monte Harrison OF, Marlins
He’s another player currently in Triple A at this time. He has a ton of upside and if he gets an opportunity he’s a 5 category producer. He’s a very boom or bust type of prospect. He currently has a triple slash of .272/.355/.448 with 5 home runs and 12 steals. He has a history of 5 category production and could be a good stash for the second half but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We need to focus on steal upside. He has had 27 steals and 28 steals the last 2 years and is easily on pace to match those totals in 2019. Walk rates and k rates are little less than desirable. He’s a bit farther away but once he gets the call I’d make room on my roster for him. He’s not quite a mix league stash yet due to higher end prospects like Rodgers, Cease and Gallen who should be up sooner than later. If he does get the call ahead of the prospects we expect up first, there will be some tough decisions to be had.
Very Deep Players To Watch
If you’re in very deep leagues, and I mean VERY deep leagues, these are some names who could get a call some time in second half that you could maybe put on your watch list. They might only be up for a cup of coffee but they have some steal upside.
These names include Myles Straw, Khalil Lee and Brett Phillips. Lee is only in double A but the other two are in triple A. The biggest concern with these players is they currently have no direct path to playing time or fantasy relevance at this time. One could open up with injury so worth monitoring. I wouldn’t consider stashing any of these players yet in redraft leagues.
Well that’s it. Hope this helps you out. Good luck and don’t forget to follow me on twitter @Mike_Kurland and for more things fantasy baseball check out the Bases Loaded Podcast. Can be found on all major podcast platforms and on twitter and IG @BasesLoadedPod