Bourn Free: Getting That Green Light

It is a generally held principal in baseball that the stolen base is only considered to be an effective offensive weapon when the success rate breaks 70%. Therefore, when we are looking around the Major Leagues to determine stolen base potential from players, it may be worthwhile to take into consideration individual players’ success rates. For example, if a player falls below an acceptable percentage level of stolen base success, there is always the chance that player’s manager may be more inclined to pit the “stop sign” up for that player, thus resulting in less stolen bases. Let’s take a minute to look at some stolen base success rates in 2011 and consider the implications in their overall stolen base potential. Next to each player is their stolen base total for 2011 (SB), the number of times caught stealing (CS), followed by their stolen base % rate.
“GREEN LIGHT” (Players who steal very well and will continue to do so)
Elvis Andrus (TEX) – 15 SB, 0 CS, 100%
A former 50 SB threat in the minors, Andrus is young (22 years old) and should crack 40 SB this year after back-to-back 30+ steal seasons to open his big league career (33, 32).
Jarrod Dyson (KC) – 9 SB, 0 CS, 100%
Recently optioned to AAA Omaha, Dyson will have to work on getting on base more often (.167 BA in KC). Keep an eye on him, as when he returns to the big club, he has proven his speed and will have a chance to once again show off his running game.
Orlando Hudson (SD) – 10 SB, 0 CS, 100%
Although getting up there in years, O-Hud has been a leader on a young team and shown some good base stealing instincts while hitting out of the 3 spot in the order. He’s battled injuries but when in the line up, he has the green light.
Erick Aybar (LAA) – 12 SB, 0 CS, 100%
After displaying speed and a good BA in the minors, Aybar is starting to put it together in the Majors. If he keeps up the running game, he’ll score in bunches and help out any fantasy squad (especially at the SS position).
Michael Bourn (HOU) – 17 SB, 2 CS, 89%
After leading the Senior Circuit in steals for 2 straight years, Bourn is the class of the speed demons. His blazing speed has been complemented at times by Jason Bourgeois at the top of the Astros order. Speed is his game and he plays that card very, very well.
“YELLOW LIGHT” (Players with less success and may get less chances to run)
Sam Fuld (TB) – 12 SB, 5 CS, 71%
After tearing up the American League East in April (including leading the Junior Circuit in batting at one point), Fuld has crashed back to Earth. His middle-of-the-road stolen base success rate negatively affects the one part of his offensive game that has the potential to help your fantasy roster. He has been spotted in and out of the Rays’ line up recently.
Carl Crawford (BOS) – 6 SB, 3 CS, 67%
Perhaps lost in Crawford’s brutal start in Boston is his ineffectiveness on the base paths in 2011. One of the greatest appeals to owning Crawford was his power-speed combo. Take away the speed game and Crawford suddenly drops down the ranks.
Brett Gardner (NYY) – 6 SB, 6 CS, 50%
Gardner’s game is founded on one thing… stolen bases. He has succeeded only 50% of the time in 2011 after sporting an 84% effectiveness the previous 2 seasons. If Gardner isn’t swiping bags, he isn’t doing the Yankees (or your fantasy squad) any favours.
“RED LIGHT” (Players who may see a marked decline in stolen base opportunities)
Chris Young (ARI) – 3 SB, 4 CS, 43%
Much like Crawford, Young’s appeal lies in his power-speed combination and what that brings to your fantasy team. With middling results so far in 2011, Manager Kirk Gibson may start holding Young back from making outs on the base paths.
Dexter Fowler (COL) – 2 SB, 6 CS, 25%
Fowler brings little to the table besides speed. He currently sits second in the NL in strikeouts with 54 (a shockingly high total for a non-power-hitter). Worst of all, he has been caught stealing more times than the rest of his team mates combined.
Juan Pierre (CWS) – 6 SB, 8 CS, 43%
Once the class of the base stealing elite (including a Major League-leading 68 in 2010), Pierre has struggled to steal bases in 2011. Manager Ozzie Guillen has been a staunch supporter of Pierre’s but a 43% success rate may result in the quirky Guillen no longer giving Pierre carte blanche on the base paths going forward.
Regardless if you own these players or are simply looking to pick up stolen bases from either a trade or the waiver wire, keeping an eye on success rates rather than simply focusing on stolen base numbers may help you see the big picture.


  1. Pete Schiller

    May 27, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    You missed Jacoby Ellsbury who has 17 stolen bases, been caught 6 times for a 74%

  2. Chris McBrien

    May 27, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Good point about Ellsbury. he definately falls above the 70% success rate and will no doubt continue to get the “GreenLight” in Beantown!

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