Are SB Overvalued?

As recently as a decade ago, steals were a "rare" commodity. With big, bulky and slow OBP/SLG guys en vogue, the prevalence of athletic speedster types dwindled. In 2000, only thirteen players with 300+ PA stole 30 or more bags and only six stole 40 or more. In 2003, the number of players who stole 30+ bases dwindled to eleven and the average player (300+ PA) stole 7.7 bases. The result? Guys like Scotty Pods, Alex Sanchez (who?) and Dave Roberts -- one category guys -- became quite valuable. Despite their minimal offerings, the shortage of stolen bases made a 40+ bags guy like Scotty Pods desirable; if you offered an additional category such as a .300+ average to boot, like Juan Pierre did, you were that much more valuable.

Speed was rare and you had to pay to get it; quality steals (more than one category guys) were even rarer.

But in our progressive age, in the year 2010, has anything changed? With the re-valuatuation of defense and "athletic types" (albeit ones who get one base), are steals still rare? If we can put a man on the moon, why can't we put more stolen base guys on first?

Last season, seventeen players stole 30+ bases. For the first time in their careers, Ichiro and Hanley were not one among them (next year Ichiro probably will be, Hanley I am not so sure about). The average player with 300+ PA stole 8.8 bases. Guys like Michael Bourn, Nyjer Morgan, and Rajai Davis were aplenty and provided sufficient fantasy value to render early round picks upon guys like Jacoby Ellsbury and Ichiro as "wasteful."At least economically.

2008 was a similar story. Sixteen players stole 30+ bases and the average player stole 8.5 bases.

What does this mean? I think it means fantasy owners overvalue stolen bases. In the last several years, the prevalence of SB guys has increased, but the value tags upon them has not. With players like Brett Gardner, Denard Span, Julio Borbon, Eric Young Jr. and Juan Pierre wading around past pick #100, why spend a top 50 pick on Ichiro or Ellsbury? SB are aplenty on the waiver wire -- when players get called up, they want to show their teams they can contribute in any and all ways possible and this usually translates into a plethora of SBs by even the fattest of minor leaguers.

There is absolutely no reason to spend big on Ellsbury (projected to hit .302 with 48 SB, 8 HR, 52 RBI, 84 R next season) when a player like Julio Borbon (projected to hit .297 with 35 SB, 6 HR, 47 RBI, 77 R next season) is going a full 100 picks later. CHONE projects fifteen players to steal 29+ bases next year and another six to steal 29. Almost all of them offer good value in Runs and many in Batting Average. There is absolutely no reason to waste your early round picks on "quality steals."


The 'Bright' One said...

Alex Sanchez? He's the answer to a trivia question

Who was the first major leaguer to be suspended under the new PED policy in baseball?

Dude did hit 6 major league home runs. Where do you think all that power came from...