There were 2.7 home runs hit for every one stolen base across MLB in 2021. There were more than 100 players to reach the 20-homer threshold. A mere 19 reached that mark in steals. The point here is that stolen-base potential can be quite difficult to secure in Fantasy Baseball drafts these days.
Due to that, many of the dependable contributors in the category get snatched up early. If they add any considerable amount of pop to their speed, good luck finding them outside the first few rounds.
For those unable to secure one of the elite speed threats early on or who prefer to wait to address the stolen base column later, the following names are some that should provide a boost. Each one can be found outside the current top-50 in ADP (FantasyPros) around the industry.
2022 Fantasy Baseball Stolen Base Targets
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Adalberto Mondesi, SS/3B, Kansas City Royals | ADP: 68
Mondesi unquestionably has the potential to lead the league in steals. The 26-year-old infielder has paced 60 swipes for every 162 games to this point in his career. The problem, as many are well aware, is that he has yet to prove that he can actually get into anywhere close to that many games.
Injuries limited Mondesi to just 35 big-league games and 19 additional ones in 2021. Over those 54 games, he was successful on 20-of-22 steal attempts. Mondesi’s career-high in MLB games for a season to this point is the 102 he played in 2019. He stole 43 bases that year, showing that he can provide elite production in the category despite missing time.
The Royals led the game in stolen bases as a team last season. Additionally, they have finished in the top-five three years running. The team likes to run and Mondesi is certainly not the only player on the club that should put up a notable number in 2022.
Tommy Edman, 2B/OF, St. Louis Cardinals | ADP: 102
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Many were high on Edman heading into fantasy baseball drafts last year given his position versatility and spot atop the Cardinals lineup. Though the results were a bit of a mixed bag overall, he rewarded investors with 30 steals (35 attempts) and 91 runs across 159 games.
After surprisingly swiping just two bags in six tries during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Edman’s basepath production from 2021 looked much more like that of his 2019 rookie campaign when he stole 15 bases in 16 attempts over 92 games. 30 steals may be a ceiling for him unless he finds a way to lift his OBP out of the low-300s. That is still a tremendous boon in the category.
Myles Straw, OF, Cleveland Guardians | ADP: 159
Straw was one of the league’s breakout performers in 2021. Like Edman, the fleet-footed center fielder hit the 30-steal mark right on the nose. This was not surprising, as Straw had already demonstrated a prowess for stealing bases during his time in the minors. Over 469 games in the Astros farm system, he racked up 170 stolen bases at a nearly 80% success rate.
Following a trade that sent him from Houston-to-Cleveland last July, Straw got the chance to show what he could do from the leadoff spot on an everyday basis. He responded well, showing overall improvement in his offensive profile, turning in a .362 OBP with 42 runs and 13 steals over 60 games. Straw is a prime candidate to swipe 40-plus bags this year.
Akil Baddoo, OF, Detroit Tigers | ADP: 194
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Baddoo was another player that asserted himself for the first time at the big-league level last year. For someone that had played just 29 overall games since 2018 and none above High-A, his 2021 effort for the Tigers was quite impressive.
Across 461 plate appearances last season, Baddoo slashed .259/.330/.436 with 13 homers, 55 RBI, and 60 runs. More importantly for the purposes of this article, he showed off his excellent speed with seven triples and an 18-for-22 performance in the steals department. The stolen bases were not unprecedented for the 23-year-old, as he swiped 24 in 29 tries at the Single-A level in 2018.
Nicky Lopez, SS, Kansas City Royals | ADP: 265
As previously mentioned, the Royals led the majors in stolen bases last year. In what was likely an unforeseen development to most, Lopez was a significant part of that. The slick-fielding shortstop showed some potential during his minor-league days, but in 159 MLB games between 2019 and 2020, he had managed just one steal in seven attempts.
2021 told a completely different story for Lopez. Things really clicked for him both in the box and on the basepaths. Over 151 games last season, he hit .300 with a .365 OBP, 78 runs, and 22 stolen bases. Impressively, the 26-year-old was caught stealing just once. That success rate on the paths along with a second-half surge that saw him slash .330/.379/.423 indicates that Lopez could turn into a huge “steal” at his current ADP.
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