The 2023 MLB season will go down as the year a bunch of rules changed, with many of those rule changes apparently made to add more stolen bases to the game. mission accomplished. teams averaged .70 steals per game for about seven weeks, highest score since 1999, it's a huge jump from recent years; The batting average per team slumped between .46 and .52 over the past eight seasons.
Of course, the most offensive stuff is up—there's a five-point jump in batting average, a nine-point increase in OBP, a 14-point increase in slugging, and a slight jump in power as well. To be fair, some of those stats need to be reevaluated after the season is over, once the summer's impact on baseball and offense can be measured.
However, today we are going to focus on piracy. Who is running more, who is running less? What is the story based on? Let's count down some stolen base winners and stolen base losers.
stolen base winner
Vander Franco, The Rays
Tampa Bay has been the story of the year through almost a quarter of the season, and Franco's breakout frontrunner. He is currently the No. 9 player in 5×5 Banked Value, posting a .292-26-7-23-14 line. The first four stats come as no surprise — we've often thought of Franco as a potential batting champion, and he was always going to be a force to be reckoned with. But after watching Franco steal just 10 bases in his first 153 games, it's a shock to see him swipe 14 of his first 43 earlier this year.
Tampa Bay was 11th in steals last year. The Rays are in second place this year. They do not take what the defense gives them; They take whatever they want. Six players on the roster have four or more steals.
The Pirates may be able to stay in this NL Central race all season long, and I'm thrilled about that. Pittsburgh, it's been a long time. The Pirates have a winning record each of the last seven years. They have lost over 100 games in two straight seasons.
The Bucs offense isn't fueling this resurgence; The Pirates are just 21st in runs scored and 15th in OPS. But Pittsburgh is trying to escape into the daylight. Pirates lead the majors in piracy (50) and most frequently caught piracy (17).
The levels of success are all over the map. Brian Reynolds (6-for-6) is picking his positions well, and even the 37-year-old carlos santana Is 4-for-4 as a con. ji haven be Still learning how to use his distinctive pace, but a 14-for-18 ledger is good enough to have the green light.
flip side, k'brian hayes (6-for-11) is helping fantasy managers with his run but not the Pirates. rodolfo castro And conor joe Both are under 50% when they go for base.
For the most part, there is no “there, there” when you look at the Oakland lineup card. Athletics is at the bottom of most offensive categories. Start with RUNS (26th), AVERAGE (26th), OPS (23rd) – oh, it's so depressing.
But the A's have a pair of top-40 fantasy players. Brent Rucker The post-promotion has been a great story, and then there's Ruiz, who is taking control of the leadoff spot.
Ruiz is batting. 277, a plus average, and 19 runs scored is passable, though not great. He is not a power man (one homer), although he has driven in 22 runs with his timely hitting. But the true driver of his value is 20 steals. A River Runs Through It.
Ruiz's minor-league profile was always interesting: .285/.363/.457 with 243 steals in 521 games. It looks like a story that's going to last. It's sad to see Oakland lose their team in the process, but at least Ruiz and Rucker give you some reason to stay in the park once in a while.
stolen base loser
I am not here to criticize Rangers. They are second in terms of big runs, it is a fun team. marcus semin The third round was a steal. Jonah Heim Breakout season is underway. imagine how much fun things could be when corey caesar Return.
But the Rangers are not running like last year. Texas ranked first in steals last season; This year, he is an ordinary 16th.
Semien is playing his role as usual. He's 7-for-8. I love talking about this boy. Check out his stats from last calendar year: .277-125-33-125-30. beautiful wonderful.
Edolis Garcia Player to watch. Last year, he hit 27 homers and stole 25 bases, compensating for a low walk rate and a modest .250 average. This year, Pop has been tremendous (13 homers, .541 slugging, MLB-leading 46 RBIs), but he's only attempted three stolen bases (all successful). Perhaps new manager Bruce Bochy wants his team to hit the ball around the park, not run around the bases.
Among NL clubs, the Phillies had the biggest decline in stolen-base rank. Last year, he was fifth in steals; This year, he is ranked 16th.
new acquisition tray turner Has always been a pick-me-up-spot stealing guy; He's been perfect in a modest five attempts this year. Kyle Schwarber stunned teams last year (10-for-11); This year, he hasn't run even once. And don't blame the smaller average. Schwarber's OBP is down only 17 points. Often with stolen bases, it's desire, not skill.
least catcher United Realmuto Runs the bases like a non-catcher. He is 7-for-9, which helps make up for the poor run production; Even with a .304 average, he's only a C7 at the moment. Bryce Harper takes pride in his running and already has two bags; He took 24 swipes the last two seasons combined. I still see a lot of upside with this offense.
There probably isn't much to lose here, but I wanted to mention the Twins, who don't care for the running game. Last year, they finished last in the majors. This year he is at 29th position. The target field is not the sprinter's track.
just six years ago, byron buxton Was one of the most electric runners around. He stole 29 bases in 30 attempts that year. Buxton is a pick-your-spot guy these days; He's been caught only once in three years, but he's come away with a modest 19 bags. He is 4-for-4 this year. The Twins know how important it is to keep Buxton healthy; Heck, he's been DH-only the entire season. Keep your franchise player in bubble wrap.
may push the category juice Michael Taylor In imaginary talk. Average, no, it's not pretty. He's batting .231, and the .286 OBP looks even worse. But Taylor has five homers and six steals, and his excellent defense helps offset the loss of Buxton's glove.
And that's about it for a fantasy-relevant Minnesota running game. willie castro He's got five bags, but he can't hit at all. George Polanco is a theft. The rest of the roster is stuck at zero, standing on first base.