The Z Files: Stealing a Category

The Z Files: Stealing a Category

This article is part of our The Z Files series.

Most rotisserie leagues are down to two more transaction periods to battle for points in play. Today we're going to focus on stolen bases. We'll take a look at the catchers, pitchers and teams who do the best and worst job of stopping steals, culminating in a table highlighting players on the teams with the most favorable schedules.

Let's begin with the catchers most likely to be active the final two weeks of the campaign. The most effective catchers at gunning down runners this season have been Salvador Perez (51.5 percent on66 attampts), James McCann (50.0 percent on 48 attempts, Jett Bandy (40.0 percent on 45 attempts), Buster Posey (38.2 percent on 68 attempts), Welington Castillo (38.2 percent on 55 attempts), Wilson Ramos (36.7 percent on 49 attempts), and Jonathan Lucroy (36.5 percent 104 attempts). Evan Gattis (50.0 percent on 26 attempts) and Sandy Leon (43.3 percent on 30 attempts) also stand out in a smaller sample. The list of the most vulnerable catchers includes Kurt Suzuki (19.0 percent on 63 attempts), Bobby Wilson (18.2 percent on 44 attempts), Francisco Cervelli (17.8 percent on 93 attempts), Nick Hundley (11.5 percent on 61 attempts), Miguel Montero (11.1 percent on 63 attempts), and Tyler Flowers (an incredible 3.8 percent on 52 attempts – that's a mere two CS against 50 SB). Keep in mind much of Lucroy's season was spent in Milwaukee, where the pitchers did not do him any favors with respect to keeping runners close.

Speaking of which, eight pitchers

Most rotisserie leagues are down to two more transaction periods to battle for points in play. Today we're going to focus on stolen bases. We'll take a look at the catchers, pitchers and teams who do the best and worst job of stopping steals, culminating in a table highlighting players on the teams with the most favorable schedules.

Let's begin with the catchers most likely to be active the final two weeks of the campaign. The most effective catchers at gunning down runners this season have been Salvador Perez (51.5 percent on66 attampts), James McCann (50.0 percent on 48 attempts, Jett Bandy (40.0 percent on 45 attempts), Buster Posey (38.2 percent on 68 attempts), Welington Castillo (38.2 percent on 55 attempts), Wilson Ramos (36.7 percent on 49 attempts), and Jonathan Lucroy (36.5 percent 104 attempts). Evan Gattis (50.0 percent on 26 attempts) and Sandy Leon (43.3 percent on 30 attempts) also stand out in a smaller sample. The list of the most vulnerable catchers includes Kurt Suzuki (19.0 percent on 63 attempts), Bobby Wilson (18.2 percent on 44 attempts), Francisco Cervelli (17.8 percent on 93 attempts), Nick Hundley (11.5 percent on 61 attempts), Miguel Montero (11.1 percent on 63 attempts), and Tyler Flowers (an incredible 3.8 percent on 52 attempts – that's a mere two CS against 50 SB). Keep in mind much of Lucroy's season was spent in Milwaukee, where the pitchers did not do him any favors with respect to keeping runners close.

Speaking of which, eight pitchers that are likely to see action down the stretch have allowed 20 or more steals this year: Noah Syndergaard (46 SB), Jimmy Nelson (27 SB), Jon Lester (25 SB), Ubaldo Jimenez (24 SB), Cole Hamels (23 SB), Jake Arrieta (21 SB), Anibal Sanchez (21 SB), and Steven Matz (20 SB).

Now let's look at how many stolen bases each team has allowed. Only three teams have allowed triple-digit steals so far this season: the Mets (123 SB on 165 attempts, 25.5 percent caught), the Cubs (122 SB on 156 attempts, 21.8 percent caught), and the Braves (111 SB on 133 attempts, 16.5 percent). Three others teams have allowed more than 90: the Reds (99 SB on 140 attempts, 29.3 percent), the Rockies (91 SB on 115 attempts, 20.9 percent caught), and the Pirates (91 SB on 115 attempts, 20.9 percent caught). Seven teams have allowed fewer than 60: the Indians (43 SB on 69 attempts, 37.7 percent caught), the Royals (45 SB on 82 attempts, 45.1 percent caught), the Nationals (47 SB on 71 attempts, 33.8 percent caught), the Red Sox (53 SB on 85 attempts, 37.6 percent caught), the Tigers (54 SB on 88 attempts, 38.6 percent caught), the Astros (56 SB on 84 attempts, 33.3 percent caught), and the Diamondbacks (57 SB on 89 attempts, 36.0 percent caught).

And finally, here's a list of the teams ranked by the number of steals allowed by the teams they'll face the final two weeks:

TEAMOpp1Opp2Opp3Opp4Week 25Week 26Total
PHICHWNYMATLNYM194234428
STLCOLCHCCINPIT213190403
CINCHCMILSTLCHC205191396
MILPITCINTEXCOL190170360
CHCCINSTLPITCIN168190358
SFLADSDCOLLAD163170333
MIAWASATLNYMWAS158170328
PITMILWASCHCSTL130191321
TEXLAAOAKMILTB149165314
ATLNYMMIAPHIDET189116305
HOUOAKLAASEALAA149154303
LADSFCOLSDSF155148303
NYMATLPHIMIAPHI173128301
COLSTLLADSFMIL148147295
BOSBALTBNYYTOR142149291
OAKHOUTEXLAASEA135154289
TBNYYBOSCHWTEX134150284
WASMIAPITARIMIA157123280
ARISDBALWASSD144131275
DETMINKCCLEATL117154271
TORSEANYYBALBOS153113266
NYYTBTORBOSBAL150113263
SEATORMINHOUOAK140123263
BALBOSARITORNYY110149259
LAATEXHOUOAKHOU135123258
SDARISFLADARI121136257
CHWKCCLETBMIN88154242
MINDETSEAKCCHW126116242
CLEKCCHWDETKC11699215
KCCLEDETMINCLE97115212

Observations

The Phillies face the softest schedule. As a team, they're mid-pack in terms of pilfers. Not only do they draw the teams allowing a lot of steals, but they're scheduled to face Syndergaard twice, the easiest pitcher to run on. They'll also see Matt Wisler and James Shields. The Phillie to target is Cesar Hernandez as he's second on the club with 17 bags and hits leadoff. He also has the best chance of being available in mixed leagues. Odubel Herrera leads the team in steals but is less likely to be available. Aaron Altherr and Peter Bourjos are dark horse options to snag a few bags.

The Cardinals draw the next-easiest schedule, but the Redbirds are second to last in team steals with only 32. If you're desperate, Kolten Wong and Jeremy Hazelbaker are the top candidates to take advantage.

Now things get interesting. The Reds have swiped the third-most bases while playing batteries allowing the third-most steals. Of course, Billy Hamilton accounts for much of the Reds' damage, but here's the thing. Hamilton has missed time with no timetable for his return, so he may have been dropped if his fantasy owner didn't need more steals and preferred to use the roster spot on someone that can help them elsewhere. Hamilton currently sits at 58 bags, so you know he wants two more for the round number. Other Reds to check out are Jose Peraza and maybe Brandon Phillips if the veteran is available.

The Milwaukee Brewers lead the league in steals, with Jonathan Villar the primary thief. They have the fourth-easiest schedule to run against. The Brewer most likely to be available and capable of making a difference would have been Keon Broxton, but he just injured his wrist and is gone for the year. Rookie shortstop Orlando Arcia might be your best remaining and available option.

The Atlanta Braves have a favorable pair of teams in Week 25, but not so much the last week of the season. There's a chance team steals leader Ender Inciarte is available. Keep in mind hitters that primarily contribute just in stolen bases may have recently been dropped by their teams if they didn't need steals.

The Pirates have one of the softest schedules in Week 26. The problem with the Bucs is that Starling Marte is their primary pilferer but there's no way he's available. The long shot to stash is Adam Frazier, as he's been playing a lot of outfield and may pick up some time down the stretch.

There's a few targets to help squeeze out those extra points in the stolen base category. To reiterate, it's quite common for stolen base specialists to be dropped if their owner is locked in the category. Maybe they want to stream an extra pitcher or chase power. The point is, don't assume a difference maker isn't available. Check the drops from last week's moves and those in the upcoming waiver or FAAB run.

Good luck trying to steal your league title.

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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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