O’k, we are entering the final week of the baseball season, the pressure is mounting, and the choices fantasy owners make in tight pennant races from here on out are magnified greatly- the room for error has gone. It’s time to let loose! For this final week I will be cutting to the core of fantasy reality- I will shed the spotlight on the players that can make a difference and try to direct you around all of the fantasy pits abound.
Today, I want to talk speed with you. I’m in one league where my team "Kit ‘n Kabootle" is only one point out of first place. Four measley stolen bases separate me from the top spot. So, I’ve picked up three guys in the last couple of weeks for that extra oomph to the finish line. But, first a wake up call!
Remember, the biggest pit this time of year is complacency. It leads to
delusion. If you haven’t been paying attention certain players have
taken an extended pit-stop. Aaron Rowand might have 15 stolen bases on
the season, but he has only 2 stolen bases in his last 40 games. Heck,
that’s the same number as Kevin Mench has in the same time span. Early
season road-runners Scott Podsednik (56 stolen bases, only 4 in his
last 31 games); Julio Lugo (36 stolen bases, only 6 in his last 49
games); and Willy Tavares (34 stolen bases, only 7 in his last 44 games)
have slowed down considerably. So, get creative- like Michael Jordan in
CRUNCH TIME, open your field of vision and see the guys who are running.
Devil Rays’ OF Joey Gathright could be the fastest player in the major leagues. He is actually owned in only 12% of ESPN leagues, and he has swiped seven bases in the last two weeks- and probably has another five or six left in him. Consider Gathright as if you were picking up another Ryan Freel. The next guy I want to discuss is owned in even fewer leagues- Orioles’ 2B Bernie Castro. Bernie was the MVP at Triple-A Ottawa this past season- he stole 41 bases in 47 attempts (87%) and like Gathright has serious speed. Castro is 6 for 7 in stolen bases since his September call-up. In a regular full season, he would be on pace for 60 stolen bases. The last guy is 23rd on the all-time stolen base list, grand-old speedster, Kenny Lofton. Kenny will only start against righties, but the Phillies will likely face only one more lefty the rest of the season. His legs are feeling good
(3 stolen bases in his last 6 starts) and the Phils are playing meaningful games.
There is one other important factor that cannot be ignored as you try to steal yourself a fantasy title- the Catcher. Florida has 4 games left with Atlanta and Juan Pierre is licking his chops because base thieves are 21 for 25 against Brian McCann (16% of base stealers caught stealing). McCann should start at least two of those games. How about Sandy Alomar Jr. in Texas, remember when he was one of the best defensive catchers in the game. He has yet to throw a man out all year. Runners are 17 for 17 against ancient Alomar. But, since he’s a backup he probably won’t see much more action.The best Molina to run on is eldest, Benji (32%), but you might as well have a picnic at first base if the youngest, Yadier (63%) is catching in St. Louis. The middle Molina (53%), Jose is also dangerous to run on. If you had success with players running against Colorado early in the season because J.D. Closser (16%) and Todd Greene (13%) were catching, be aware that since June, Danny Ardoin (54%) has received the bulk of the playing time. And Danny is deadly accurate with his darts to second and third. Mike Piazza (15%) might still have some pop left in his bat, but he is still one of the worst at throwing out runners. Of all catchers who have had at least 35 steals attempted on them only Sal Fasano (14%) of Baltimore has a worst percentage than Piazza. Of the top five hitting catchers, Ivan Rodriguez (52%) is easily the best. Jorge Posada (30%) is average, while Jason Varitek (25%), Javy Lopez (25%), and Victor Martinez (22%) are all below average.
Below I have listed the top and bottom 10 Catchers in throwing out runners (minimum, 35 attempts):
Don’t Mess With Me
Pct. CS (SB-SBA)
1. Yadier Molina (Cardinals) 63% (14-38)
3. Jose Molina (Angels) 53% (18-38)
4. Ivan Rodriguez (Tigers) 52% (32-67)
5. Henry Blanco (Cubs) 49% (20-39)
6. Joe Mauer (Twins) 43% (31-54)
7. Toby Hall (Devil Rays) 42% (45-78)
8. Brian Schneider (Nationals) 40% (48-80)
9. Mike Matheny (Giants) 39% (60-98)
10. Rod Barajas (Rangers) 36% (22-61)
Pct. CS (SB-SBA)
1. Sal Fasano (Orioles) 14% (36-42)
2. Mike Piazza (Mets) 15% (75-88)
4. Jason Kendell (A’S) 18% (96-117)
5. Jason Phillips (Dodgers0 20% (78-97)
6. Mike Lieberthal (Phillies ) 21% (59-75)
7. Victor Martinez (Indians) 22% (91-117)
8. Michael Barrett (Cubs) 22% (66-85)
9. Greg Zaun (Blue Jays) 23% (70-91)
10. A.J. Pierzynski (White Sox) 23% (79-102)
*CS– Caught Stealing
**SB– Stolen Base
***SBA– Stolen Base Attempt
Carl The Cabbie