I always like to grab a cheap source of stolen bases late in drafts, so I was messing around with some of the statistics over at FanGraphs last night, and came across several hitters who had less than 20 stolen bases in 2011, but with regular/semi-regular playing time, and good health, could steal 25 or more bases in 2012.
Jose Tabata, PIT
Tabata stole 16 bases in just 334 at bats as he missed 50 games due to a hand contusion. Assuming the hand, and his legs, are in good health, Tabata should see regular playing time in the Pirates outfield in 2012. He is a solid contact hitter who increased his walk rate from 6.3% in 2010 to 10.5% in 2011. His OBP has hovered in the .346 to .349 range in his first two years in the big leagues, so he should get plenty of opportunities to run in 2012. He will have to improve upon his 64% success rate in 2011 to reach 25 stolen bases though.
More late round speed sources after the jump:
Alejandro de Aza, CHW
It appears that de Aza may have a chance at leading off for the White Sox in 2012, especially after the White Sox traded outfielder Carlos Quentin to the Padres this offseason. de Aza stole 12 bases and walked in just under 10% of his 151 at bats last season, but has been endorsed by White Sox GM Ken Williams as his leadoff hitter this offseason, so 25 stolen bases should be easily attainable should he get more than 350 at bats in 2012.
Carlos Gomez, MIL
Gomez stole 16 bases in his 231 at bats in 2011, but has a good chance of seeing more at bats in 2012 for two reasons. One, Ryan Braun will probably miss the first 50 games of the season, and the Brewers need 3 outfielders from Gomez, Corey Hart, Nyjer Morgan and Norichika Aoki. Secondly, the Brewers are talking about using Hart at first base this season and that all depends on how Mat Gamel performs in his first full time role in the big leagues. Gomez could see additional at bats as a result, manager Ron Roenicke likes to keep his hitters moving on the base paths and without Braun and Prince Fielder, the Brewers may look for more ways to score some runs in 2012.
Cliff Pennington, OAK
I heard Pennington interviewed on one of the SiriusXM's MLB shows recently, and he was asked point blank why the drop in stolen bases last season. I honestly forget his detailed response, but came away thinking he will be focusing on improving his success rate on the basepaths this season, and the A's are one team that will look to score runs any way they can, so I see Pennington approaching 25 or more stolen bases in 2012.
Craig Gentry, TEX
Gentry stole 18 bases without getting caught last season, in just 133 at bats to boot, so if he could just get 250 or more at bats, and maintain a solid success rate on the basepaths, he could easily surpass 25 stolen bases in 2012. As recently as 2009, Gentry stole 49 bases in AA, and with the injury history of fellow outfielders Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz, Gentry may get to that 250 at bat level and be a solid source of stolen bases late in drafts or off the waiver wire this season.
Who would you rather have in 2012:
Jose Tabata (148 votes)
Cliff Pennington (24 votes)
Alejandro de Aza (38 votes)
Craig Gentry (5 votes)
Carlos Gomez (6 votes)
221 total votes