A Tale of Two Base Stealers

By R.J. Anderson //
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Rajai
Davis
and Coco Crisp entered the 2010 season as teammates on the
Oakland Athletics. The pair has since split up — with Oakland trading
Davis to the Toronto Blue Jays during the off-season — but still remain
two of the biggest basestealing targets for fantasy players.

Many aspects of a player’s game are analyzed when a player changes
teams. Where he fits in the lineup, how his offensive style will fit in
the park, and whether the new division includes an increased level of
competition. Rarely is team philosophy taken account. In Davis’s case,
how the Jays allow him to play on the basepaths is critical to how you value him in your draft. In 2010, Davis stole 50 bases — more
than Carl Crawford, Ichiro, and every American League player except
Juan Pierre. Meanwhile, the entire Jays team stole just 58 bases last season. The Jays only
had one player with double-digit steals (Fred Lewis)…and Davis just took his job.

Since the Jays’ offense was built around home runs, it’s hard
to say whether the team will pull the reins in on Davis’ running game or if the low stolen bases total was simply a result of the team’s makeup last year.
Davis is a very efficient thief (79% for his career), so there’s no objective reason to hold him back.

Meanwhile, the oft-injured Crisp remains an Athletic. The serial
stealer made the most of his 127 stolen base opportunities (defined as
a situation where the runner is on first or second with the next base
open) and attempted 35 steals. For a reference point, each of the 16
players with more steals each had at least 40 more opportunities.
Expect that rate to drop, as Crisp averaged about 29 steal attempts per
season when he was with Boston — and those three seasons came before
he hit the wrong side of 30. There could also be concerns about playing
time, as the Athletics have added to their outfield depth with the acquisitions of David DeJesus and Josh Willingham (not to mention presumptive DH Hideki Matsui).

Even with the questions about team philosophy, take Davis if you have to choose between the pair. He’s not much of an offensive player by real-life standards, but he should still give even your standard mixed league team a strong stolen base boost.

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