The Z Files: Sometimes, Crime Does Pay

The Z Files: Sometimes, Crime Does Pay

This article is part of our The Z Files series.

Earlier this week during friend and colleague Paul Sporer's regular guest spot on the Tuesday RotoWire Fantasy Sports Today show on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio, co-host Jeff Erickson brought up the notion of streaming hitters for stolen bases. Since this is a pet strategy of mine, my ears perked up. This is a tactic I have long championed and is the main reason a stolen base index is included in my Weekly Hitter Rankings. Now that we're about a quarter of the way into the 2022 campaign, it's time to identify player and team trends that can facilitate capturing those elusive bags.

Let's first examine the general stolen base landscape, then review pitcher and catcher numbers over the previous three seasons. Next, we'll check out team stats for this season before ending with some players to target to pad pilfers.

Here is a graph displaying steals per game from 2011.

Overall, steals have recovered a tad from as last season's nadir, but combined, teams are still collecting fewer than one stolen base per game.

To be honest, league-wide steals per game isn't useful for our fantasy squads. What matters is the distribution. Obviously, a smaller percentage of players contribute to a larger number of steals compared to the other counting stats, but it's helpful to have a grasp of the full picture.

One way to break it down is to count how many players are responsible for half of the total steals each season.

SeasonStealsNo. Players
2011

Earlier this week during friend and colleague Paul Sporer's regular guest spot on the Tuesday RotoWire Fantasy Sports Today show on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio, co-host Jeff Erickson brought up the notion of streaming hitters for stolen bases. Since this is a pet strategy of mine, my ears perked up. This is a tactic I have long championed and is the main reason a stolen base index is included in my Weekly Hitter Rankings. Now that we're about a quarter of the way into the 2022 campaign, it's time to identify player and team trends that can facilitate capturing those elusive bags.

Let's first examine the general stolen base landscape, then review pitcher and catcher numbers over the previous three seasons. Next, we'll check out team stats for this season before ending with some players to target to pad pilfers.

Here is a graph displaying steals per game from 2011.

Overall, steals have recovered a tad from as last season's nadir, but combined, teams are still collecting fewer than one stolen base per game.

To be honest, league-wide steals per game isn't useful for our fantasy squads. What matters is the distribution. Obviously, a smaller percentage of players contribute to a larger number of steals compared to the other counting stats, but it's helpful to have a grasp of the full picture.

One way to break it down is to count how many players are responsible for half of the total steals each season.

SeasonStealsNo. Players
2011327961
2012322962
2013269352
2014276454
2015250556
2016253754
2017252658
2018247260
2019228059
202088554
2021221364
202255751

It's interesting to note that last season, that number was the highest it's been since 2011. In contrast, so far this season, steals are more concentrated than ever.

Another approach is to determine the percentage of overall steals contributed by the top-20 players in the category.

Season% Top 20
201123.30%
201222.48%
201326.74%
201426.09%
201524.79%
201627.04%
201724.54%
201824.72%
201925.09%
202025.31%
202123.32%
202226.03%

Unsurprisingly, the same trend appears here as the steals leaders account for a bigger share than last season. This can be interpreted in one of two ways. First, the 2022 inventory of players has more stolen base specialists, meaning it is harder to assemble a piecemeal roster of hitters who swipe bags here and there. Second, and more likely, more sources for steals will emerge, flattening the contribution of those dominating so far in 2022.

This hypothesis is easy to test by comparing what's transpired thus far to what occurred after a similar number of games last year. Sure enough, only 41 players were needed to accumulate half of the overall stolen bases at this time last season, compared to 64 by season's end. The early top-20 last season accounted for 26.4 percent of the overall total, three ticks higher than the final allocation. That is, stolen base threats emerged last season. While it doesn't guarantee that pattern will repeat, there is reason for optimism.

Now the question is, what teams and possibly players are best to target? Let's begin by focusing on the opposition to uncover batteries more susceptible to surrendering pilfers. Here is a list of every active catcher accruing at least 20 chances to throw out a would-be stealer since 2019.

CatcherTeamSBASBCSSB%
Salvador PerezKansas City Royals52312159.6%
Luke MaileCleveland Guardians35211460.0%
Anthony BemboomBaltimore Orioles35211460.0%
J.T. RealmutoPhiladelphia Phillies150925861.3%
Yadier MolinaSt. Louis Cardinals85543163.5%
Andrew KniznerSt. Louis Cardinals29191065.5%
Reese McGuireChicago White Sox58382065.5%
William ContrerasAtlanta Braves29191065.5%
Austin HedgesCleveland Guardians96643266.7%
Martin MaldonadoHouston Astros106713567.0%
Jorge AlfaroSan Diego Padres90612967.8%
Elias DiazColorado Rockies103713268.9%
Manny PinaAtlanta Braves74512368.9%
Christian VazquezBoston Red Sox1611124969.6%
James McCannNew York Mets129913870.5%
Yan GomesChicago Cubs1431024171.3%
Mike ZuninoTampa Bay Rays119853471.4%
Dustin GarneauDetroit Tigers53381571.7%
Eric HaaseDetroit Tigers46331371.7%
Jacob StallingsMiami Marlins104752972.1%
Daulton VarshoArizona Diamondbacks2921872.4%
Tucker BarnhartDetroit Tigers135983772.6%
Danny JansenToronto Blue Jays111813073.0%
Jonah HeimTexas Rangers45331273.3%
Willson ContrerasChicago Cubs1391023773.4%
Michael PerezPittsburgh Pirates65481773.8%
Sean MurphyOakland Athletics81602174.1%
Yasmani GrandalChicago White Sox1751304574.3%
Tom MurphySeattle Mariners86642274.4%
Tomas NidoNew York Mets64481675.0%
Carson KellyArizona Diamondbacks112842875.0%
Grayson GreinerArizona Diamondbacks81612075.3%
Will SmithLos Angeles Dodgers1441093575.7%
Austin RomineLos Angeles Angels71541776.1%
Curt CasaliSan Francisco Giants77591876.6%
Stephen VogtOakland Athletics105812477.1%
Francisco MejiaTampa Bay Rays62481477.4%
Chad WallachLos Angeles Angels3124777.4%
Austin BarnesLos Angeles Dodgers90702077.8%
Omar NarvaezMilwaukee Brewers1731363778.6%
Cal RaleighSeattle Mariners2419579.2%
Gary SanchezMinnesota Twins1261002679.4%
Travis d'ArnaudAtlanta Braves107852279.4%
Tyler StephensonCincinnati Reds4435979.5%
Jose TrevinoNew York Yankees74591579.7%
Andrew KnappPittsburgh Pirates55441180.0%
Ryan JeffersMinnesota Twins75601580.0%
Austin AllenOakland Athletics2016480.0%
Mitch GarverTexas Rangers81651680.2%
Cam GallagherKansas City Royals4637980.4%
Dom NunezColorado Rockies63511281.0%
Robinson ChirinosBaltimore Orioles95771881.1%
Austin NolaSan Diego Padres59481181.4%
Victor CaratiniMilwaukee Brewers98801881.6%
Jason CastroHouston Astros82671581.7%
Kyle HigashiokaNew York Yankees61501182.0%
Joey BartSan Francisco Giants2823582.1%
Alejandro KirkToronto Blue Jays3630683.3%
Max StassiLos Angeles Angels1211012083.5%
Kevin PlaweckiBoston Red Sox87731483.9%
Zack CollinsToronto Blue Jays64541084.4%
Kurt SuzukiLos Angeles Angels1261081885.7%
Luis TorrensSeattle Mariners4438686.4%
Riley AdamsWashington Nationals2724388.9%

The table can be sorted, but as posted, those at the top of the list should be avoided while the backstops at the bottom should be targeted for steals.

Here is a similar table for pitchers since 2019, with the filter being 150 innings over that span.

PitcherTeamIPSBCSSB%
Jack FlahertySt. Louis Cardinals3151712.5%
Trevor RichardsToronto Blue Jays231.24833.3%
Alex WoodSan Francisco Giants1872433.3%
JT BrubakerPittsburgh Pirates171.23633.3%
Dallas KeuchelChicago White Sox3383633.3%
John MeansBaltimore Orioles345.12433.3%
Lance McCullers Jr.Houston Astros217.14736.4%
Jake OdorizziHouston Astros277.14736.4%
Ranger SuarezPhiladelphia Phillies158.22340.0%
Patrick SandovalLos Angeles Angels1632340.0%
Kris BubicKansas City Royals1802340.0%
Austin VothWashington Nationals150.25741.7%
Matthew BoydSan Francisco Giants324.16746.2%
Eduardo RodriguezDetroit Tigers3616746.2%
Adam WainwrightSt. Louis Cardinals443.27846.7%
Hyun Jin RyuToronto Blue Jays418.23350.0%
David PriceLos Angeles Dodgers1814450.0%
Brad KellerKansas City Royals353.26650.0%
Tyler AlexanderDetroit Tigers196.14450.0%
Tyler MahleCincinnati Reds357.16650.0%
Shane BieberCleveland Guardians388.1121152.2%
Mike ClevingerSan Diego Padres167.210952.6%
Trent ThorntonToronto Blue Jays2098753.3%
Chris PaddackMinnesota Twins3087653.8%
Casey MizeDetroit Tigers178.27653.8%
Carlos CarrascoNew York Mets201.26554.5%
Triston McKenzieCleveland Guardians153.16554.5%
Wade MileyChicago Cubs344.26554.5%
Clayton KershawLos Angeles Dodgers358.111955.0%
Sean ManaeaSan Diego Padres2635455.6%
Luis CessaCincinnati Reds167.15455.6%
Kyle HendricksChicago Cubs439.1141156.0%
Frankie MontasOakland Athletics3369756.3%
Aaron CivaleCleveland Guardians2569756.3%
Steve CishekWashington Nationals152.14357.1%
Jose UrquidyHouston Astros177.24357.1%
Domingo GermanNew York Yankees241.17558.3%
Marcus StromanChicago Cubs363.1211558.3%
Jose UrenaMilwaukee Brewers208.210758.8%
Kyle GibsonPhiladelphia Phillies409.113959.1%
Reynaldo LopezChicago White Sox268161159.3%
Joe MusgroveSan Diego Padres391.19660.0%
Brandon WoodruffMilwaukee Brewers374.214960.9%
Jose QuintanaPittsburgh Pirates24411761.1%
Mitch KellerPittsburgh Pirates170.111761.1%
Chad GreenNew York Yankees178.111761.1%
Ross StriplingToronto Blue Jays241.18561.5%
German MarquezColorado Rockies435.2161061.5%
Jorge LopezBaltimore Orioles284.18561.5%
Cristian JavierHouston Astros155.25362.5%
Zach PlesacCleveland Guardians313.25362.5%
James PaxtonBoston Red Sox172.17463.6%
Aaron NolaPhiladelphia Phillies454.1211263.6%
Luis GarciaHouston Astros167.214863.6%
Zach DaviesArizona Diamondbacks377181064.3%
Vince VelasquezChicago White Sox245.213765.0%
Luis CastilloCincinnati Reds448.115865.2%
Jon GrayTexas Rangers33817965.4%
Ryan YarbroughTampa Bay Rays352.114766.7%
Giovanny GallegosSt. Louis Cardinals169.16366.7%
Chris StrattonPittsburgh Pirates185.18466.7%
Cole IrvinOakland Athletics223.22166.7%
Pablo LopezMiami Marlins271.18466.7%
Jesus LuzardoMiami Marlins166.14266.7%
Julio UriasLos Angeles Dodgers320.112666.7%
Jaime BarriaLos Angeles Angels171.24266.7%
Zack GreinkeKansas City Royals446.210566.7%
Brady SingerKansas City Royals192.210566.7%
Tarik SkubalDetroit Tigers181.18466.7%
Daniel NorrisChicago Cubs22916866.7%
Adrian SampsonChicago Cubs160.24266.7%
Michael WachaBoston Red Sox285.112666.7%
Rich HillBoston Red Sox25616866.7%
Charlie MortonAtlanta Braves418.110566.7%
Zac GallenArizona Diamondbacks273.114766.7%
Adrian HouserMilwaukee Brewers309.2361767.9%
Patrick CorbinWashington Nationals439.1281368.3%
Zach EflinPhiladelphia Phillies32811568.8%
Jordan MontgomeryNew York Yankees205.111568.8%
Hector NerisHouston Astros163.29469.2%
Alex CobbSan Francisco Giants1587370.0%
Blake SnellSan Diego Padres285.2351570.0%
Kyle FreelandColorado Rockies295.212570.6%
Erick FeddeWashington Nationals261.2271171.1%
Mike MinorCincinnati Reds423.220871.4%
Miles MikolasSt. Louis Cardinals228.25271.4%
Dakota HudsonSt. Louis Cardinals222.15271.4%
Eric LauerMilwaukee Brewers279.15271.4%
Jose SuarezLos Angeles Angels181.215671.4%
Max FriedAtlanta Braves387.115671.4%
Merrill KellyArizona Diamondbacks372.215671.4%
Drew SmylyChicago Cubs267281171.8%
Martin PerezTexas Rangers341.118772.0%
Justus SheffieldSeattle Mariners171.218772.0%
Max ScherzerNew York Mets41921872.4%
Caleb SmithArizona Diamondbacks28116672.7%
Zack WheelerPhiladelphia Phillies479.211473.3%
Trevor WilliamsNew York Mets29211473.3%
Marco GonzalesSeattle Mariners41614573.7%
Taijuan WalkerNew York Mets213.114573.7%
Freddy PeraltaMilwaukee Brewers258.214573.7%
Jose BerriosToronto Blue Jays455.117673.9%
Yusei KikuchiToronto Blue Jays365.217673.9%
Lou TrivinoOakland Athletics15717673.9%
Alec MillsChicago Cubs217.19375.0%
Chris SaleBoston Red Sox1909375.0%
Mike SorokaAtlanta Braves188.16275.0%
Garrett RichardsTexas Rangers196.29375.0%
Anthony DeSclafaniSan Francisco Giants36821775.0%
Seth LugoNew York Mets1633175.0%
Josh HaderMilwaukee Brewers153.16275.0%
Elieser HernandezMiami Marlins159.23175.0%
Justin VerlanderHouston Astros2299375.0%
Bryan ShawCleveland Guardians155.16275.0%
Luke WeaverArizona Diamondbacks1826275.0%
Sandy AlcantaraMiami Marlins44528975.7%
Logan WebbSan Francisco Giants242.119676.0%
Chris BassittNew York Mets364.119676.0%
Michael PinedaDetroit Tigers28219676.0%
Hansel RoblesBoston Red Sox158.110376.9%
Gerrit ColeNew York Yankees466.221677.8%
Jeff HoffmanCincinnati Reds164.111378.6%
Steven MatzSt. Louis Cardinals341.215478.9%
Lucas GiolitoChicago White Sox427.219579.2%
Kevin GausmanToronto Blue Jays35427779.4%
Dane DunningTexas Rangers151.28280.0%
Emilio PaganMinnesota Twins155.14180.0%
Trevor RogersMiami Marlins16112380.0%
Raisel IglesiasLos Angeles Angels1604180.0%
Jhoulys ChacinColorado Rockies172.212380.0%
Mark MelanconArizona Diamondbacks154.24180.0%
Madison BumgarnerArizona Diamondbacks395.229780.6%
Blake TreinenLos Angeles Dodgers156.230781.1%
Adbert AlzolayChicago Cubs159.113381.3%
Dinelson LametSan Diego Padres18913381.3%
Sonny GrayMinnesota Twins366.226681.3%
Andrew HeaneyLos Angeles Dodgers291.213381.3%
Jordan LylesBaltimore Orioles378.226681.3%
Jameson TaillonNew York Yankees181.218481.8%
Ryne StanekHouston Astros155.19281.8%
Lance LynnChicago White Sox449.129682.9%
Chris FlexenSeattle Mariners193.15183.3%
Craig StammenSan Diego Padres194.115383.3%
Walker BuehlerLos Angeles Dodgers426.225583.3%
Taylor ClarkeKansas City Royals171.15183.3%
Carlos EstevezColorado Rockies157.25183.3%
Robbie RaySeattle Mariners419.141883.7%
Jacob deGromNew York Mets36442785.7%
Tyler AndersonLos Angeles Dodgers247.112285.7%
Nathan EovaldiBoston Red Sox298.113286.7%
Jakob JunisSan Francisco Giants24014287.5%
Aaron SanchezWashington Nationals166.216288.9%
Kolby AllardTexas Rangers203.28188.9%
Dylan CeaseChicago White Sox29726389.7%
Stephen StrasburgWashington Nationals235.218290.0%
Dylan BundyMinnesota Twins31827390.0%
Liam HendriksChicago White Sox181.19190.0%
Corbin BurnesMilwaukee Brewers275.231391.2%
Miguel CastroNew York Yankees168.133391.7%
Antonio SenzatelaColorado Rockies354.212192.3%
Anibal SanchezWashington Nationals21926292.9%
Noah SyndergaardLos Angeles Angels199.242393.3%
Scott BarlowKansas City Royals174.214193.3%
Yu DarvishSan Diego Padres42143393.5%
Framber ValdezHouston Astros27617194.4%
Cal QuantrillCleveland Guardians284.218194.7%
Nick PivettaBoston Red Sox264.118194.7%
Carlos RodonSan Francisco Giants175190100.0%
Nestor CortesNew York Yankees167.150100.0%
Trevor MayNew York Mets150.1100100.0%
Johnny CuetoChicago White Sox19430100.0%
Ian AndersonAtlanta Braves160.270100.0%
Kenley JansenAtlanta Braves156.1250100.0%

Like the previous table, please feel free to sort as desired, but as currently posted, avoid the arms at the top while picking on those at the end.

What about this season?

CatcherTeamSBASBCSSB%
Austin AllenOakland Athletics1010.0%
Patrick MazeikaNew York Mets31233.3%
Martin MaldonadoHouston Astros94544.4%
Robinson ChirinosBaltimore Orioles115645.5%
Jose TrevinoNew York Yankees63350.0%
Manny PinaAtlanta Braves21150.0%
Curt CasaliSan Francisco Giants21150.0%
Keibert RuizWashington Nationals179852.9%
Sean MurphyOakland Athletics116554.5%
Daulton VarshoArizona Diamondbacks74357.1%
Andrew KniznerSt. Louis Cardinals74357.1%
J.T. RealmutoPhiladelphia Phillies127558.3%
Luis TorrensSeattle Mariners159660.0%
Victor CaratiniMilwaukee Brewers106460.0%
Christian BethancourtOakland Athletics53260.0%
Eric HaaseDetroit Tigers85362.5%
Anthony BemboomBaltimore Orioles85362.5%
Jose HerreraArizona Diamondbacks117463.6%
James McCannNew York Mets128466.7%
Roberto PerezPittsburgh Pirates96366.7%
Kyle HigashiokaNew York Yankees96366.7%
Yadier MolinaSt. Louis Cardinals96366.7%
Jason CastroHouston Astros96366.7%
Austin BarnesLos Angeles Dodgers64266.7%
Jorge AlfaroSan Diego Padres64266.7%
Payton HenryMiami Marlins64266.7%
Travis d'ArnaudAtlanta Braves2215768.2%
Tyler StephensonCincinnati Reds1913668.4%
Cal RaleighSeattle Mariners139469.2%
Christian VazquezBoston Red Sox2014670.0%
Salvador PerezKansas City Royals107370.0%
Willson ContrerasChicago Cubs1712570.6%
Omar NarvaezMilwaukee Brewers1410471.4%
Riley AdamsWashington Nationals1410471.4%
Alejandro KirkToronto Blue Jays1410471.4%
Yan GomesChicago Cubs75271.4%
Tucker BarnhartDetroit Tigers2518772.0%
Aramis GarciaCincinnati Reds118372.7%
Mike ZuninoTampa Bay Rays129375.0%
William ContrerasAtlanta Braves86275.0%
Luke MaileCleveland Guardians43175.0%
Sam HuffTexas Rangers43175.0%
Reese McGuireChicago White Sox1310376.9%
Dom NunezColorado Rockies1310376.9%
Kurt SuzukiLos Angeles Angels97277.8%
Austin HedgesCleveland Guardians2318578.3%
Jacob StallingsMiami Marlins2520580.0%
Jonah HeimTexas Rangers1512380.0%
Carson KellyArizona Diamondbacks108280.0%
Francisco MejiaTampa Bay Rays108280.0%
MJ MelendezKansas City Royals108280.0%
Garrett StubbsPhiladelphia Phillies54180.0%
Zack CollinsToronto Blue Jays54180.0%
Gary SanchezMinnesota Twins119281.8%
Elias DiazColorado Rockies119281.8%
Mitch GarverTexas Rangers1210283.3%
Tyler HeinemanPittsburgh Pirates65183.3%
Yasmani GrandalChicago White Sox1311284.6%
Max StassiLos Angeles Angels1311284.6%
Will SmithLos Angeles Dodgers1412285.7%
Andrew KnappPittsburgh Pirates76185.7%
Joey BartSan Francisco Giants1513286.7%
Tomas NidoNew York Mets98188.9%
Ryan JeffersMinnesota Twins1211191.7%
Austin RomineLos Angeles Angels440100.0%
Tom MurphySeattle Mariners440100.0%
Danny JansenToronto Blue Jays220100.0%
Chad WallachLos Angeles Angels770100.0%
Kevin PlaweckiBoston Red Sox550100.0%
Cam GallagherKansas City Royals220100.0%
Michael PerezPittsburgh Pirates660100.0%
Dustin GarneauDetroit Tigers110100.0%
Stephen VogtOakland Athletics110100.0%
Austin NolaSan Diego Padres13130100.0%
Jose GodoyMinnesota Twins110100.0%
Rene PintoTampa Bay Rays220100.0%
Mark KolozsvaryCincinnati Reds220100.0%
Connor WongBoston Red Sox220100.0%
Brian ServenColorado Rockies110100.0%
Sebastian RiveroKansas City Royals110100.0%
Bryan LavastidaCleveland Guardians220100.0%

We're all looking at the same names, so everyone can draw their own conclusions, but I like checking out how the younger receivers are faring. Keibert Ruiz and Daulton Varsho are doing a good job controlling the running game while Joey Bart, Ryan Jeffers, Will Smith and Austin Nola are struggling.

Now the pitchers, sorted initially sorted by bags allowed:

PitcherTeamIPSBCSSB%
Noah SyndergaardLos Angeles Angels30120100.0%
Sandy AlcantaraMiami Marlins50.28280.0%
Drew SmylyChicago Cubs3460100.0%
Kevin GausmanToronto Blue Jays506185.7%
Josh WinderMinnesota Twins29.16185.7%
Matt MooreTexas Rangers18.26185.7%
Zach ThompsonPittsburgh Pirates26.150100.0%
Ross StriplingToronto Blue Jays25.150100.0%
Merrill KellyArizona Diamondbacks445183.3%
Logan WebbSan Francisco Giants48.140100.0%
Adrian HouserMilwaukee Brewers36.140100.0%
Aaron AshbyMilwaukee Brewers27.140100.0%
Alex CobbSan Francisco Giants25.240100.0%
Glenn OttoTexas Rangers18.140100.0%
Liam HendriksChicago White Sox17.140100.0%
Robbie RaySeattle Mariners48.24180.0%
Walker BuehlerLos Angeles Dodgers46.24180.0%
Kyle HendricksChicago Cubs44.24180.0%
Drew RasmussenTampa Bay Rays38.24180.0%
German MarquezColorado Rockies384180.0%
Mitch KellerPittsburgh Pirates35.14180.0%
Elieser HernandezMiami Marlins33.24180.0%
Tyler MahleCincinnati Reds36.24266.7%
Cal QuantrillCleveland Guardians34.14266.7%
Shane McClanahanTampa Bay Rays46.130100.0%
Zack GreinkeKansas City Royals4430100.0%
Dylan CeaseChicago White Sox43.230100.0%
Carlos RodonSan Francisco Giants38.230100.0%
Luis GarciaHouston Astros37.230100.0%
Tyler AndersonLos Angeles Dodgers35.230100.0%
Jameson TaillonNew York Yankees35.230100.0%
Reid DetmersLos Angeles Angels34.230100.0%
Trevor RogersMiami Marlins32.130100.0%
Dylan BundyMinnesota Twins2830100.0%
Aaron CivaleCleveland Guardians24.230100.0%
Sonny GrayMinnesota Twins20.230100.0%
Aaron LoupLos Angeles Angels16.230100.0%
Corey KluberTampa Bay Rays35.23175.0%
Erick FeddeWashington Nationals343175.0%
Vladimir GutierrezCincinnati Reds263175.0%
Tyler WellsBaltimore Orioles283260.0%
Cristian JavierHouston Astros25.13260.0%
Victor AranoWashington Nationals16.23260.0%
Logan GilbertSeattle Mariners453350.0%
Patrick CorbinWashington Nationals38.23350.0%
Miles MikolasSt. Louis Cardinals48.120100.0%
Dane DunningTexas Rangers43.220100.0%
Eduardo RodriguezDetroit Tigers3920100.0%
Yu DarvishSan Diego Padres3920100.0%
Shane BieberCleveland Guardians38.220100.0%
Zack WheelerPhiladelphia Phillies38.220100.0%
Marco GonzalesSeattle Mariners3820100.0%
Chad KuhlColorado Rockies37.120100.0%
Nick MartinezSan Diego Padres34.220100.0%
Tony GonsolinLos Angeles Dodgers3320100.0%
Garrett WhitlockBoston Red Sox29.220100.0%
Bryse WilsonPittsburgh Pirates2720100.0%
Marcus StromanChicago Cubs26.120100.0%
Nabil CrismattSan Diego Padres1920100.0%
Nick NelsonPhiladelphia Phillies18.120100.0%
James KaprielianOakland Athletics1820100.0%
Alexis DiazCincinnati Reds17.120100.0%
Ian KennedyArizona Diamondbacks16.220100.0%
Wily PeraltaDetroit Tigers16.120100.0%
Trevor StephanCleveland Guardians1620100.0%
Rafael MonteroHouston Astros15.220100.0%
Josh StaumontKansas City Royals15.220100.0%
Jason AdamTampa Bay Rays15.120100.0%
Brad KellerKansas City Royals43.22166.7%
Joe RyanMinnesota Twins37.22166.7%
Charlie MortonAtlanta Braves34.22166.7%
Tylor MegillNew York Mets34.22166.7%
Patrick SandovalLos Angeles Angels332166.7%
Lucas GiolitoChicago White Sox31.22166.7%
Daniel LynchKansas City Royals302166.7%
Rich HillBoston Red Sox282166.7%
Tanner HouckBoston Red Sox26.22166.7%
Carlos HernandezKansas City Royals26.22166.7%
Bryce ElderAtlanta Braves192166.7%
Ryan TeperaLos Angeles Angels17.12166.7%
A.J. MinterAtlanta Braves16.22166.7%
Alex FaedoDetroit Tigers15.22166.7%
Josiah GrayWashington Nationals43.12250.0%
Alek ManoahToronto Blue Jays422250.0%
Triston McKenzieCleveland Guardians36.12250.0%
Michael KopechChicago White Sox352250.0%
Noe RamirezArizona Diamondbacks162250.0%
Aaron NolaPhiladelphia Phillies472340.0%
Nick PivettaBoston Red Sox42.22340.0%
Austin GomberColorado Rockies392340.0%
Pablo LopezMiami Marlins4610100.0%
Joe MusgroveSan Diego Padres4510100.0%
Sean ManaeaSan Diego Padres4310100.0%
Kyle FreelandColorado Rockies42.210100.0%
Nathan EovaldiBoston Red Sox41.210100.0%
Carlos CarrascoNew York Mets4110100.0%
Chris FlexenSeattle Mariners39.110100.0%
Bruce ZimmermannBaltimore Orioles36.110100.0%
Hunter GreeneCincinnati Reds33.110100.0%
Humberto CastellanosArizona Diamondbacks30.110100.0%
Antonio SenzatelaColorado Rockies29.210100.0%
Justin SteeleChicago Cubs2810100.0%
Vince VelasquezChicago White Sox27.210100.0%
Chris ArcherMinnesota Twins26.110100.0%
Michael WachaBoston Red Sox2610100.0%
Chris PaddackMinnesota Twins22.110100.0%
Jon GrayTexas Rangers2210100.0%
Jimmy HergetLos Angeles Angels2010100.0%
David BednarPittsburgh Pirates2010100.0%
Matt WislerTampa Bay Rays19.210100.0%
Domingo AcevedoOakland Athletics18.210100.0%
Dillon TateBaltimore Orioles18.110100.0%
Hector NerisHouston Astros1710100.0%
John KingTexas Rangers1710100.0%
Matt FosterChicago White Sox16.210100.0%
Adam CimberToronto Blue Jays16.110100.0%
Taylor RogersSan Diego Padres1610100.0%
Austin VothWashington Nationals15.210100.0%
Michael FulmerDetroit Tigers15.110100.0%
Dany JimenezOakland Athletics15.110100.0%
Seth LugoNew York Mets1510100.0%
Steven WilsonSan Diego Padres1510100.0%
Frankie MontasOakland Athletics491150.0%
Chris BassittNew York Mets42.11150.0%
Jose BerriosToronto Blue Jays411150.0%
Martin PerezTexas Rangers40.11150.0%
Nestor CortesNew York Yankees401150.0%
Tarik SkubalDetroit Tigers39.21150.0%
Daulton JefferiesOakland Athletics39.11150.0%
Julio UriasLos Angeles Dodgers361150.0%
Ian AndersonAtlanta Braves361150.0%
Madison BumgarnerArizona Diamondbacks35.11150.0%
Taylor HearnTexas Rangers29.21150.0%
Beau BrieskeDetroit Tigers26.11150.0%
Jordan HicksSt. Louis Cardinals25.21150.0%
Cody PoteetMiami Marlins211150.0%
Brock BurkeTexas Rangers211150.0%
Spencer StriderAtlanta Braves20.21150.0%
Oliver OrtegaLos Angeles Angels19.21150.0%
Bryan AbreuHouston Astros17.21150.0%
Kenley JansenAtlanta Braves16.21150.0%
Cole SulserMiami Marlins161150.0%
Felix BautistaBaltimore Orioles15.21150.0%
Genesis CabreraSt. Louis Cardinals15.21150.0%
Max ScherzerNew York Mets49.21233.3%
Kyle WrightAtlanta Braves421233.3%
Paul BlackburnOakland Athletics37.21233.3%
Freddy PeraltaMilwaukee Brewers35.21233.3%
Dakota HudsonSt. Louis Cardinals35.11233.3%
Jordan MontgomeryNew York Yankees35.11233.3%
Brandon WoodruffMilwaukee Brewers33.21233.3%
Connor OvertonCincinnati Reds24.21233.3%
Jeff HoffmanCincinnati Reds19.21233.3%
Corbin BurnesMilwaukee Brewers51.21325.0%
Zach DaviesArizona Diamondbacks39.11325.0%
Aaron SanchezWashington Nationals22.21325.0%
Max FriedAtlanta Braves49010.0%
Jordan LylesBaltimore Orioles46000.0%
Justin VerlanderHouston Astros45.2020.0%
Gerrit ColeNew York Yankees43.2000.0%
Adam WainwrightSt. Louis Cardinals40020.0%
Framber ValdezHouston Astros40000.0%
Zach PlesacCleveland Guardians38.2010.0%
Shohei OhtaniLos Angeles Angels38.1000.0%
Steven MatzSt. Louis Cardinals37.1000.0%
Kyle GibsonPhiladelphia Phillies37.1000.0%
Jose QuintanaPittsburgh Pirates37010.0%
Joan AdonWashington Nationals36.2000.0%
Ranger SuarezPhiladelphia Phillies36.1000.0%
JT BrubakerPittsburgh Pirates36000.0%
Michael LorenzenLos Angeles Angels35.1000.0%
Luis SeverinoNew York Yankees34.2010.0%
Eric LauerMilwaukee Brewers34.2000.0%
Alex WoodSan Francisco Giants34.1000.0%
Zac GallenArizona Diamondbacks34.1000.0%
Jose UrquidyHouston Astros33.2010.0%
Yusei KikuchiToronto Blue Jays32000.0%
Keegan ThompsonChicago Cubs32030.0%
Jake OdorizziHouston Astros31.2020.0%
Clayton KershawLos Angeles Dodgers30010.0%
Zach EflinPhiladelphia Phillies30000.0%
Spenser WatkinsBaltimore Orioles30020.0%
Jesus LuzardoMiami Marlins29010.0%
MacKenzie GoreSan Diego Padres29010.0%
Cole IrvinOakland Athletics27.2000.0%
Dallas KeuchelChicago White Sox26010.0%
Michael KingNew York Yankees25.2000.0%
Keegan AkinBaltimore Orioles24.2010.0%
Taijuan WalkerNew York Mets23000.0%
Wil CrowePittsburgh Pirates23000.0%
Michael PinedaDetroit Tigers22.1010.0%
Jeffrey SpringsTampa Bay Rays21.2010.0%
Kyle BradishBaltimore Orioles21.1000.0%
Jakob JunisSan Francisco Giants20.2000.0%
Clay HolmesNew York Yankees20.1000.0%
Josh RogersWashington Nationals20.1010.0%
Dillon PetersPittsburgh Pirates20.1010.0%
Matt BrashSeattle Mariners20020.0%
Bailey OberMinnesota Twins19.2000.0%
Ty BlachColorado Rockies19000.0%
David PetersonNew York Mets19000.0%
Scott BarlowKansas City Royals18.1000.0%
Kendall GravemanChicago White Sox18.1000.0%
J.P. FeyereisenTampa Bay Rays18.1000.0%
Josh FlemingTampa Bay Rays18.1000.0%
Andrew KittredgeTampa Bay Rays18000.0%
Jaime BarriaLos Angeles Angels18000.0%
Jorge LopezBaltimore Orioles18000.0%
Tanner BanksChicago White Sox18010.0%
Phil MatonHouston Astros17.2000.0%
Griffin JaxMinnesota Twins17.2000.0%
Zach LogueOakland Athletics17.2000.0%
Jose SuarezLos Angeles Angels17.2010.0%
Jhoan DuranMinnesota Twins17.2000.0%
Jhoulys ChacinColorado Rockies17.1000.0%
Zach JacksonOakland Athletics17.1010.0%
John BrebbiaSan Francisco Giants17010.0%
Trevor RichardsToronto Blue Jays17010.0%
Paolo EspinoWashington Nationals17000.0%
Will VestDetroit Tigers17020.0%
Anthony BassMiami Marlins16.2000.0%
Austin DavisBoston Red Sox16.1000.0%
A.J. PukOakland Athletics16.1000.0%
Reiver SanmartinCincinnati Reds16.1000.0%
Corey KnebelPhiladelphia Phillies16010.0%
Erasmo RamirezWashington Nationals16000.0%
Edwin DiazNew York Mets16000.0%
Drew SmithNew York Mets16010.0%
Joey KrehbielBaltimore Orioles16010.0%
Joel PayampsKansas City Royals16000.0%
Jalen BeeksTampa Bay Rays15.2000.0%
Tanner ScottMiami Marlins15.2000.0%
Reynaldo LopezChicago White Sox15.2000.0%
Drew HutchisonDetroit Tigers15.2000.0%
Tyler RogersSan Francisco Giants15.2000.0%
Scott EffrossChicago Cubs15.2000.0%
Camilo DovalSan Francisco Giants15.2000.0%
Andre PallanteSt. Louis Cardinals15.2000.0%
Trent ThorntonToronto Blue Jays15.1000.0%
Cody StashakMinnesota Twins15.1000.0%
Collin SniderKansas City Royals15.1000.0%
Robert SuarezSan Diego Padres15.1000.0%
Trevor WilliamsNew York Mets15000.0%
Will SmithAtlanta Braves15000.0%
Tyler DuffeyMinnesota Twins15010.0%
Michael RuckerChicago Cubs15000.0%

This isn't brain surgery, but I'm more inclined to use a pitcher's history than the small sample of 2022, but I am willing to use 40 or so games to find susceptible catchers.

What teams are controlling the running game best so far this season (through Wednesday's action)?

TeamGSBCSSB%
Baltimore Orioles3810952.6%
Houston Astros3810855.6%
Oakland Athletics4010855.6%
New York Yankees379660.0%
Washington Nationals39191261.3%
St. Louis Cardinals3710662.5%
Philadelphia Phillies3711664.7%
Milwaukee Brewers3816866.7%
Arizona Diamondbacks3919967.9%
Seattle Mariners38221068.8%
Atlanta Braves38221068.8%
Detroit Tigers38241070.6%
Chicago Cubs3617770.8%
New York Mets3917770.8%
Cincinnati Reds3623971.9%
Toronto Blue Jays3820676.9%
Miami Marlins3724777.4%
Boston Red Sox3721677.8%
Kansas City Royals3618578.3%
Tampa Bay Rays3819579.2%
Cleveland Guardians3423679.3%
Colorado Rockies3720580.0%
Los Angeles Dodgers3716480.0%
Texas Rangers3625680.6%
Chicago White Sox3721580.8%
San Francisco Giants3714382.4%
Pittsburgh Pirates3719482.6%
Minnesota Twins3821387.5%
Los Angeles Angels4029487.9%
San Diego Padres3717289.5%

Granted, the imbalanced schedule can skew results, but there is a huge discrepancy between the teams at either end.  I'll avoid the top 10 while targeting the bottom dozen or so when streaming for steals.

Note that four of the bottom 10 teams are in the NL West, with only Arizona absent. Targeting Diamondbacks could be a means to snake (ahem) some steals.

With that in mind, here is how the divisions line up thus far with respect to throwing out runners:

DivisionSB%
AL East71.2%
AL Central78.7%
AL West72.7%
NL East68.9%
NL Cental71.4%
NL West78.9%

Overall, target runners in the AL Central and NL West while avoiding the NL East.

Speaking of streaming for steals, the twice-a-week hitter moves allowed in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship is perfect for this ploy. Using a stolen base specialist for the whole week may not be desirable in today's landscape, as that sacrifices power and RBI for half the week. However, cleverly sliding stolen base contributors onto the active roster for a series against a team allowing runners to steal at an 80 percent clip will still allow you to pop in a power guy in the lineup for the other part of the week. This is one of the more underutilized strategies in the high stakes arena.

Before tabling some names to track, here are team stolen base totals. Sometimes running is contagious, so it behooves those searching for steals to note the clubs flashing the green light most often.

TeamSBCSSB%
St. Louis Cardinals33489.2%
Tampa Bay Rays311173.8%
Milwaukee Brewers27975.0%
Texas Rangers26876.5%
Philadelphia Phillies25389.3%
Oakland Athletics24582.8%
Los Angeles Angels221362.9%
Kansas City Royals22775.9%
New York Yankees21775.0%
Los Angeles Dodgers21484.0%
San Francisco Giants21677.8%
Baltimore Orioles21677.8%
Seattle Mariners20969.0%
Cleveland Guardians19676.0%
Chicago White Sox19195.0%
Atlanta Braves18290.0%
Miami Marlins17770.8%
Houston Astros16672.7%
Toronto Blue Jays16769.6%
Arizona Diamondbacks16964.0%
Cincinnati Reds16672.7%
New York Mets15768.2%
San Diego Padres15768.2%
Chicago Cubs12957.1%
Washington Nationals12570.6%
Pittsburgh Pirates12860.0%
Minnesota Twins9660.0%
Boston Red Sox8561.5%
Colorado Rockies7846.7%
Detroit Tigers5550.0%

I'm more apt to focus on teams at the top of the list as opposed to avoiding teams at the bottom, though sometimes running is a managerial tendency. That said, if a player on one of the lower-ranked clubs draws a vulnerable battery, I won't hesitate to use that player.

Admittedly the research needs a refresh, but several years ago I investigated how early team results portended the rest of the season. While the correlation wasn't perfect, overall teams with an early success rate north of 75 percent ran more, while those falling short of 75 percent curtailed their attempts. This is in line with the 75 percent plateau commonly accepted as the break-even point according to the expected runs matrix. As such, the Angels could be in danger of dialing their attempts back, while the White Sox and Atlanta could pick up the pace (a trend that might dovetail nicely with the return of Ronald Acuna). 

Let's wrap things up with some players to target for steals. Some are obvious, while some are a bit under the radar.

Vidal Brujan, Rays: The club is running, and he could still challenge for the league lead in steals if he soon secures regular playing time.

Eli White, Rangers: Texas is also running a lot, with White's 8-for-8 mark bolstering the team's success on the basepaths. He's played almost every day this month and looks to be cementing a full-time gig.

Andres Gimenez, Guardians: Gimenez is settling in at the keystone. Look for him to run more now that he's more confident, not to mention getting on base at a .340 clip as opposed to last season's .282 mark, when he still was a perfect 11-for-11 on steals in only 68 games.

Josh Rojas, Diamondbacks: As indicated, the Diamondbacks are in the softest division when it comes to controlling the running game. The club has yet to take full advantage, but it's hard to imagine thatt continues much longer. Ketel Marte and Daulton Varsho are also candidates to slither into more bags.

Kevin Smith, Athletics: Call it a hunch, but after a slow start Smith is settling in, and it appears Oakland wants to give him a long look. The A's running and have two of the poorer teams at defending the steal in their division.

Roman Quinn, Phillies: Quinn is the perfect example of a stolen base streamer. You certainly don't want him in your lineup all week, but when the Phillies have a series against a vulnerable battery, he's a sneaky play. The only downside is that the NL East does a good job bagging would-be base stealers, which will limit optimal streaming opportunities.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Todd Zola
Todd has been writing about fantasy baseball since 1997. He won NL Tout Wars and Mixed LABR in 2016 as well as a multi-time league winner in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. Todd is now setting his sights even higher: The Rotowire Staff League. Lord Zola, as he's known in the industry, won the 2013 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Article of the Year award and was named the 2017 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year. Todd is a five-time FSWA awards finalist.
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