There were 28 players who stole 25 or more bases last season. Another 17 stole more than 20 and 91 stole 10 or more. That’s a lot of stolen bases.
There were 46 players who hit more than 25 home runs, 86 who hit 20 or more, and 201 who hit at least 10.
But what does that really mean for your fantasy planning and your draft?
Well in its simplest form, it means that you have many more chances to grab guys who can contribute a significant number of home runs, as opposed to those who’ll steal bases this year. But that may not be true in the long run.
No, before the steroid era, base stealers outnumbered, or came close to the number of big home run hitters in the game. In fact from 1990 to 1995 there were at least 86.7% as many 25 stolen base guys as 25 home run hitters and that probably represents something closer to what the future will bring.
See in 1996 the percentage of base stealers as compared to sluggers dropped roughly 50 percent and hit an all time low during the home run race of 2000 when only 22 runners stole 25 or more bases as opposed to 67 men who hit 25 or more home runs.
But as MLB began to enact a policy against performance enhancing drugs, the number of stolen bases compared to runners has crept back up. Last year, there were almost 61% as many 25 steal men as home run guys. Some of that is due to an increase in base stealers (jumping from 16 in 2005 to 28 in 2007), but part of that is due to the decrease in the number of power hitters as performance enhanced players tend to become a little rarer.
Thus, in 2008 it’s not unreasonable to assume that we’ll see even more 25 base stealers than we saw in 2007 and that the value of home runs will continue to increase. If you believe in the trends (as shown in the table below), that’s something thing to remember in keeper leagues, where guys capable of hitting 40 or more home runs, even with a low average, will become rarer.
In non-keeper leagues, the lesson is even simpler, discount steals by a percentage in your draft. Jose Reyes might well steal 70, but there will be plenty of twosomes who’ll steal as many who will be available in the third through seventh rounds, who’ll also contribute in the home run categories, and plenty of guys who can steal and hit 30 home runs who you might consider even sooner.
The chart below is a year by year breakdown of 25 home run men v. 25 stolen base guys and a comparison of how many base stealers of that caliber there were to home run hitters of that caliber each year. Thus in 2007 there were roughly 61% as many top base stealers, when compared to top home run hitters, while in 2000 there were just 32.8% of them.
% of SB
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