By: Andrew Satriano
As the month of August comes to a close, it means there is one more month of excitement before the real fun begins. That being said, it is time once again to look at some of the game’s top speedsters who can really help vault your team into the playoffs if you are struggling to get there.
Somewhat of a dark horse because he is rarely talked about for his speed, Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun has been a machine along the bases.
Coming into today’s action, Braun has 29 steals after recording just 14 a year ago. Furthermore, Braun has stolen five bags in the last four days, which leads the majors. The last three years Braun has averaged nine steals in September, the most in any month, so as August winds down, now would be a good time to make a play for him. In the last three weeks, Braun has accumulated 10 steals and is steadily climbing his way up the charts. Shifting gears, his production is always solid at the plate, and this year is no different as he is on pace for another 30 homer, 100 RBI season. With the Brewers clicking on all cylinders right now, look for him to continue running at a high rate. Obviously, he will be unavailable, so prepare to trade for him as he could really help your team with his speed among other things.
Another player coming on really strong in the second half of the season is Padres center fielder Cameron Maybin. After swiping 11 bases at the end of June, Maybin recorded 14 thefts in July and 7 more this month, giving him a total of 32. As he is now a full-time starter for the first time in his career, his 32 steals are easily a career high and there is no reason to believe he won’t finish the season with around 45 steals. Most importantly, he is only 24 years old, so he has many years ahead of him to repeat this year’s success.
With the Padres long out of the race, expect Maybin to run when he wants, as there is no pressure. Some slumps have occurred for Maybin at the dish, but he is still hovering around the .280 mark. As the Padres will play divisional foes for the next month, Maybin may see an increase in steals because of the familiarity of those teams. Maybin has a better chance of being available than Braun, so if he is on the market, swipe him up quickly for Rotisserie leagues.
Unfortunately, a handful of guys have looked dreadful the past couple of weeks and beyond and for that reason need to be steered clear of. Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal is a player on serious decline, after finding much success around the bases in the past. Though he is getting older, Furcal managed to swipe 22 bases last season, but this year has been a much different story, as he sits on just five steals as we head into September with his last steal coming one month ago to the day.
He is in serious danger of not recording double-digit steals for the first time in his career excluding 2008 when he was injured and missed most of the season with the Dodgers. When he was traded to the Cardinals last month, the belief was that he would be more motivated to produce for a contending team, but that simply has not been the case. With Furcal’s struggles running and hitting as he currently stands at .204, his value has steadily decreased to almost nothing in all formats, but especially in those that reward steals.
Wrapping up this week is center fielder for the Twins Denard Span. After emerging as a starting player for the Twins in 2009, Span has tallied at least 23 thefts the past two seasons, but not this year. Span has dealt with a concussion this season, forcing him to miss 64 of his team’s 129 games, drastically affecting his stats. However, in the 65 games he has played in, he only pulled off six steals which would put him on pace for around 15 steals the whole season. The effects of the concussion are still being felt by Span, as he is 1 for 31 since returning from the disabled list on August 2. The Twins have sent him home for a week to try and get his mind off of baseball and they may shut him down completely, but either way it is not looking good for Span and consequently, Span owners. If you do own Span, it is a no-brainer to let him go, as his season is a wash and should be forgotten about. That concludes this week, see you again next week for more.