Week of 4/14 to 4/20
Favorable Matchups, teams facing:
Josh Bard San Diego (7% Caught Stealing in 2006): 3 games against Colorado (Willy Taveras, Scott Podsednik, Jayson Nix), 3 games against Arizona (Chris Burke, Eric Byrnes, Chris Young)
Greg Zaun Toronto (15% Caught Stealing in 2006): 2 games against Baltimore (Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis), 2 games against Texas (Ian Kinsler), 3 games against Detroit (Edgar Renteria, Clete Thomas)
Kurt Suzuki Oakland (19% Caught Stealing in 2006): 2 games against the Chicago White Sox (Orlando Cabrera), 2 games against Seattle (Ichiro Suzuki, Yuniesky Betancourt), 3 games against Kansas City (Joey Gathright, Alex Gordon, Mark Teahen
Unfavorable Matchups, teams facing:
Yadier Molina St. Louis (54% Caught Stealing in 2006): 3 games against Milwaukee (Corey Hart, Ryan Braun, Rickie Weeks), 3 games against San Francisco (Rajai Davis, Fred Lewis, Eugenio Velez, Randy Winn)
Joe Mauer Minnesota (53% Caught Stealing in 2006): 2 against Detroit (Edgar Renteria, Clete Thomas), 2 against Cleveland (Asdrubal Cabrera, Grady Sizemore), 2 against Tampa Bay (Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, Jason Bartlett, Akinori Iwamura)
Kenji Johjima Seattle (47% Caught Stealing in 2006): 2 games against Kansas City (Joey Gathright, Alex Gordon, Mark Teahen), 2 games against Oakland (No real threats anyway), 3 against the Los Angeles Angels (Chone Figgins, Erick Aybar, Torii Hunter, Gary Matthews)
Off and Running
This week let’s take a look at the early leaders of 2007 in stolen bases and see who is likely to maintain a good pace and who is likely to fade.
Michael Bourn: Bourn is a perfect 6 for 6 this season which gives him the early lead in steals. He showed the ability to be a force on the basepaths last season, swiping 18 bases in 19 attempts in just 133 plate appearances. His skill set; 9.8 BB%, 82% Ct%, and a 58% GB%, is not great, but it should be enough to keep him the lineup on a regular bases. Expect 50+ plus steals for the year.
Joey Gathright: With David DeJesus out, Gathright has been seeing some playing time and is 6 for 7 in steals. He had a strange season in 2007 when he was caught 8 times in 17 attempts. Prior to last season, he had success at the major league level on the basepaths, 48 steals in 63 tries. Gathright’s skills; 8.1% BB%, 84% Ct%, 66% GB%, suggest that he could steal 50+ bases with regular playing time. His value will depend on a regular spot opening up in the Royals outfield.
Carlos Gomez: The 21 year old Gomez is 5 for 6 in steals. The Twins seem committed to playing him everyday. It would take a prolonged slump for him to be sent back to the minors, which could happen. Based on his 2007 performance with the Mets, 6% BB% and a 78% Ct%, he may have trouble getting on base enough to justify staying in the lineup. That being said, he showed an ability to steal bases at the major league level last year, 12 for 15, and he has a bright future, but he may struggle in the short term.
Brian Roberts: Despite having 3 steals, Roberts has also been caught twice. In his career he is a high% base stealer, 50 of 57 last year, and is just 30 years of age, so the caught steals should not be a concern. Look for another big year on the basepaths for Roberts.
Ryan Theriot: Despite a slow start at the plate, 5 for his first 28, Theriot is a perfect 3 for 3 in steals. In his first season as a regular, he proved to be a high % base stealer, 28 for 32. His impressive contact skills, 91% Ct% last year, ground ball approach, and speed should allow him to get on base enough to be good for 25 to 30 steals.
Corey Hart: After being caught 8 times in 13 tries in 2006, Hart showed major improvement when he swiped 23 bags in 30 tries last year. At 26 years old, he is entering his prime years, and the baserunning may take a back seat to his growing power, 24 home runs last year. He may fall short of being a 30/30 player, but breaking the 20/20 barrier is something he should do this year.
Carl Crawford: No surprise here, his stolen base totals have consistently been among the league leaders since he became a full-time player, 2003/2004/2005/2006/2007 SB’s of 55/59/46/58/50.
Lance Berkman: The biggest surprise on this list, Berkman already has 3 stolen bases in 3 attempts. Considering that in 2006 he stole 3 bases in 5 attempts and in 2007 he stole 7 bases in 10, it is doubtful that at the age of 32 he has found a new gear. This is a fluke, enjoy it while it lasts.
Alex Rios: Rios has teased us with 30/30 potential for a few years now, 17 of 21 in steals and 24 home runs. The speed is clearly there, 6 triples in 2007 and 7 last year. As a high % base stealer, all he needs to do is run more.
Marco Scuturo: After Berkman, Scuturo checks in as the second biggest fluke on the list. He is only seeing playing time because of the injury to Scott Rolen. Once Rolen returns in early May, Scuturo goes back to the bench, where it looks like he belongs, 3 for his first 23 this year.
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