There is a lot of advice on how to draft on the Internet. Draft the best player each round. Grab your No. 1 pitcher early. Wait on saves. The list goes on and on. There is one strategy that could benefit you on draft day and beyond. That is to not chase steals. There are a lot of speed guys to be had late in drafts. Instead of chasing the top guy and sacrifice another stat, like power, wait on steals and grab a speedy guy in the 20th round.
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Last season looked to be the breakout of speed guys in baseball. Dee Gordon led the league with 64 steals. Behind him were Billy Hamilton and Jose Altuve (56) and Ben Revere (49). At the start of my league last year (10 teams, 25 rounds), Gordon was not drafted, Hamilton was selected in the 13th round, I picked Altuve in the ninth and Revere wasn’t drafted until Round 25.
Entering this season, Altuve has an ADP of 13.91, second round. He does provide owners with more than just steals. He had 225 hits with a .341 average. However, the likelihood of him repeating those numbers are slim. I would be okay passing on Altuve in exchange of drafting Adam Jones or Anthony Rizzo.
Hamilton is next on the ADP list at 46.02, fifth round. Last year, he had just 141 hits with a .250 average. His 56 steals were impressive, but he was caught 23 times. In the fifth round, this is were owners look to take a starter or possibly their first closer. Hamilton, at the plate, didn’t excite me as he struck out 117 times. I don’t need that kind of negativity on my team.
As I keep going, there were players in the top 10 of steals who were drafted late or not drafted at all. Rajai Davis had 36 steals with a .282 average, both respectable numbers. He was a free agent for the first month in my league. Denard Span wasn’t drafted either, but finished with 31 steals and a .302 batting average.
There are players out there that can provide you with a good amount of steals while not hurting your other stats. Mookie Betts is projected 28 steals and has an ADP of 119.01, 12th round. I’d rather have three players that can steal 30-35 bases rather than reaching for the 60-steal guy. Speed can always be found late. So, take my advice and avoid drafting a top-speed guy and build up the other stats.