Red light, green light

The nitty gritty is upon us. Over the past few weeks, I’ve stressed the importance of grinding out points and scraping the margins for the extra handful of stats that can steal the point or two you may need to win your league. Here at THT Fantasy, we often preach the advantages to be gained from getting the best of your players, especially those toward the end of your roster. To achieve this—like a real manager—you must populate your lineup spots with players who are in a position to succeed.

Stolen bases is often a close category, where a team that is able to manufacture a mini-surge at the end of a season can climb multiple points in the standings. I spent some time this week looking at catchers who are best at preventing stolen bases as well as most teams’ end-of-season schedules (starting from next Monday). Marginal basestealers, of whom there are often several on your waiver wire, can become full-fledged speedsters against teams inept at stopping the running game. Players whose stats may lead you to think are helpful in the steal category often turn shy against the Yadier Molinas and Miguel Monteros of the world.

First, for those of you motivated enough to drop and add by series, here are my list of red light and green light teams.

Red light:

Arizona Diamondbacks
St. Louis Cardinals
Cincinnati Reds
Philadelphia Phillies
Baltimore Orioles
Los Angeles Dodgers

These six teams all have ostensible everyday catchers who are adept at controlling the running game. Baltimore and Los Angeles aren’t as proficient as the teams above them, but they are certainly good enough to force non-elite speedsters and their managers to think twice.

Green light

Houston
Pittsburgh
Boston
Minnesota
Chicago (A)
New York (A)
Cleveland
New York (N)
Texas
*San Francisco

Many of these teams have a catcher-by-committee approach, but don’t worry about who is behind the dish when in most of these cases all options are unable to protect against the steal. The top four teams in this list strike me as the absolute worst in the league at stopping the running game.

I’ve included San Francisco with an asterisk because while Buster Posey has thrown out a very respectable 28.6 percent of base stealers this year, teams run an awful lot against the Giants (perhaps because of their ballpark and pitching staff, which compel teams to try to “manufacture” runs). So, while rate isn’t particularly favorable there, volume seems to be on your side.

Big picture

For those less willing to micromanage and would rather pick up a player or two off the wire and run with them, here are a few things I noticed when looking at overall schedules and how they may affect one’s ability to steal a few steals.

  • Colorado, the Cubs and Washington all have three series against “red light” teams. Marginal basestealers on those teams should be avoided, generally speaking.
  • St. Louis has two series against Houston and will be in a playoff race. Marginal base stealers may see an uptick in swipes.
  • The Orioles will be giving it their all and play two series against Boston. This represents an opportunity for part-time thieves in Baltimore.
  • Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Oakland and Toronto both play three of their final five series against “green light” teams.
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