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Late-round players who can provide steals in your 2021 fantasy baseball drafts

·Yahoo Fantasy Contributor
·5 min read
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Although the league-wide stolen base rate improved slightly last season, it was still the lowest mark (aside from 2019) since any of us started watching baseball. Teams continue to favor a three-true-outcome approach, which makes the few players who run the bases aggressively valued members of any roto team.

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The simple steals approach this year is to get them early. In fact, smart managers will use two-three of their initial five picks on players who combine fleet feet with strong plate skills. But even after securing a steals foundation, there remains a need to chip away at the category throughout the draft. With that in mind, here is a handful of speedy players who can be found after pick-150.

Andres Gimenez (CLE, 2B/3B/SS, ADP 181)

In a full-time role, Gimenez would blow past the 20-steal plateau. After all, he swiped eight bases in 118 at-bats in his rookie year after averaging 38 swipes per 162 games as a Minor Leaguer. The only reason to pause on drafting Gimenez is a crowded Indians infield that will leave the 22-year-old battling fellow former Met Amed Rosario for the starting shortstop job. Right now, it appears that Gimenez has the upper hand.

Nick Madrigal (CWS, 2B, ADP 216)

Madrigal is one of baseball’s speediest youngsters, having swiped 43 bags in 163 career Minor League games. And the 23-year-old can get his fleet feet on base, having logged a lifetime .371 OBP in the Minors and a .376 mark in his 29-game Major League debut. With almost no power and a likely spot at the bottom of the lineup, Madrigal is likely to be a one-category contributor. But for those who need late-round steals, he may be a savior.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa (TEX, C/3B/SS, ADP 228)

Having retained catcher eligibility in Yahoo! leagues, Kiner-Falefa is arguably the most unique steals source. Set to be the Rangers starting shortstop this year, he swiped eight bags while working primarily as a third baseman last season. Those who need both late steals and a catcher will find Kiner-Falefa to be exactly what they are looking for.

Victor Robles (WSH, OF, ADP 187)

After stealing 28 bases in 2019, Robles surprisingly dropped to just four swipes last season. And his steals drop wasn’t the only problem, as the 23-year-old also saw his strikeout rate spike while his year-over-year batting average dropped 35 points. Robles has now become a buy-low option who could also contribute some power (17 HR in 2019) if he can turn things around.

Dylan Carlson (STL, OF, ADP 164)

Carlson struggled as a 21-year-old rookie, which was understandable for someone who didn’t have the chance to open the season in the Minors and started his career amidst the Cardinals COVID-19 interruptions. However, he showed a glimpse of his vast potential when he reached base in half of his 14 postseason appearances. Having hit .292 with 26 homers and 20 steals across 126 games in his final Minor League season, Carlson has the versatility to be a five-category contributor in his first full season.

St. Louis Cardinals' Dylan Carlson
Rookie Dylan Carlson could have a great second season. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Nick Senzel (CIN, OF, ADP 259)

Like Carlson, Senzel has the potential to make a five-category impact. The outfielder produced 12 homers and 14 steals in 414 plate appearances as a rookie in 2019 before an unconfirmed bout of COVID-19 sidelined him for most of ’20. The 25-year-old carries greater injury risk than most players, but he has the potential to swipe 15-20 bags.

[Draft Rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP]

Raimel Tapia (COL, OF, ADP 255)

Tapia broke out last season, serving as Colorado’s regular leadoff hitter while producing eight steals and a .321 average. The Rockies lineup looks less potent than usual, but there remains plenty of potential for the team to rack up crooked numbers during their 81 home contests. Yahoo! managers in daily transaction leagues could find success by streaming Tapia in his most advantageous situations.

Lorenzo Cain (MIL, OF, ADP 256)

Fantasy managers aren’t sure what to do with Cain, who appeared in just five games before opting out of the 2020 season. But assuming the long layoff doesn’t destroy his skill set, the career .288 hitter is a potential source of a high batting average, 10 homers, and 20 steals. He could also serve as the Brewers leadoff man, which would lead to plenty of runs scored.

Manuel Margot (TB, OF, ADP 259)

Margot may have the highest steals ceiling of everyone on this list, having tallied 32 swipes across 543 at-bats since the outset of 2019. And with 13 homers across the same 2019-20 span, he isn’t a total afterthought in the power department. The Rays propensity for platoons is the biggest concern regarding Margot, but he is worth a late-round pick.

Leody Taveras (TEX, OF, ADP 234)

Making his Major League debut last season, Taveras was unimpressive overall (.703 OPS) but flashed a fantasy-friendly skill set with four homers and eight steals in 119 at-bats. The retooling Rangers should give the 22-year-old a full-time role, and he has the wheels to repeat the 32-steal season he posted in the Minors in 2019. As you can see from the final five players in this article, there are plenty of options for those who want to take a sleeper speedster at the end of their Yahoo! draft.