Who, in the land of 1,000 baseball players, is most likely to give you at least 30 steals in 2010?
After looking at three different sets of projections and some three-year averages, 13 players stand out from the pack as the most likely to fill your stolen base category in 2010.
Just like in our look at pure power, the players are listed from most likely to least likely to accomplish the achievement. Listing includes a player’s position, team, average draft position and a comment:
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Red Sox (20.40) — His ADP is too high because he won’t steal 70 again, but he’s the most likely player to lead the majors in 2010.
Carl Crawford, OF, Rays (15.52) — Everybody’s still waiting for that 20/50 season. He’ll at least get the 50 half this year.
Michael Bourn, OF, Astros (68.20) — Probably the most likely challenger to take Ellsbury’s crown in 2010. Stole 61 last year, one more than Crawford. Bourn, Crawford and Ellsbury were top three in all three lists I reviewed.
Jose Reyes, SS, Mets (23.65) — With his injury plagued 2009 behind him, Reyes looks to return to his 50-70 steal form. He won’t hop right back up to that 70 mark, but 40-50 isn’t out of the question. He’s a lock for 30.
BJ Upton, OF, Rays (59.34) — Batting average and on-base percentage were way down in 2009, but we don’t care about that for this list. He’s had consecutive 40+-steal seasons. Expect nothing less in 2010.
Nyjer Morgan, OF, Nationals (129.68) — A great value if he keeps going in the 12th/13th rounds.
Rajai Davis, OF, As (171.79) — Nyjer will have a better average, which is why he’s going higher, but both of these guys should get 35-40 steals and score 75-100 runs.
Juan Pierre, OF, White Sox (248.48) — I picked up Pierre when Manny was just being suspended Manny last year and rode his solid production. If he keeps the starting left field gig, you could expect 100/0/35/40/.290 and not be considered crazy. Them’s some nice projections for the 24th/25th round.
Chone Figgins, 3B, Angels (78.58) — Figgins has always seemed a little overrated to me. A third baseman’s gotta have some pop, y’know. If you prefer a speedster at the hot corner, however, you won’t find one better. He could steal you 45-50 if he stays healthy.
Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies (22.66) — Had “only” 31 steals in 2009. He’ll get back into the 40s in 2010.
Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers (7.71) — With the second-highest ADP on this list, you’re probably going to have to spend a first-round pick on the Dodgers star. He’s probably not worth his ADP, but he’ll get you 30-35 steals.
Brian Roberts, 2B, Orioles (40.92) — Went from 50 steals to 40 to 30 in each of the last three years despite getting virtually the same number of at-bats each year. Even at age 32, there’s no way Roberts’ steals drop by another 10 in 2010. But don’t expect him to steal 50 either.
Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins (1.98) — A lot has been said about Ramirez on this site already, whether it was him battling Pujols, or being on our pure power list or in our Top 10. But like Roberts, don’t draft Ramirez expecting a return to 50+ steals. Get 30-35 and be happy.
There were a handful of players just off the list, including Elvis Andrus, Willy Taveras, Julio Borbon and Everth Cabrera, who were all listed highly on at least one list. Ichiro Suzuki, Brett Gardner, Shane Victorino and Carlos Gomez also could reach 30 steals.
There were two other players, Drew Stubbs and Darin Mastroianni, who deserve to be mentioned.
With the Taveras trade — according to a story on mlb.com, the As have already designated him for assignment, so be leery of any of his early projections in 2010 — Stubbs becomes a serious threat for at least 30 steals, if not 40. As the season approaches expect Taveras’ name to disappear from lists like this and Stubbs’ to climb considerably.
I had never heard of Mastroianni, a Blue Jays outfield prospect who was on one of the projection lists, but his minor league numbers are pretty fantastic. He’ll turn 25 in August. Put all of his bests together from the minor and you get a 100/2/50/80/.280-type line. That’s pretty darn good. However, he hasn’t played above class-AA yet. Keep him on your radar in the spring. If he shows he belongs, scoop him up late in your draft. Then gloat about it.