Uncovering The Thieves

ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 20: Craig Gentry #23 of the Texas Rangers slides into second base as Jeff Keppinger #8 of the Houston Astros misses the tag and is called safe by first base umpire Tim Timmons #95 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on June 20, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)

In mining for steals at this point in the season, it doesn’t pay to scan the stolen base leaders. Everyone does that.

Instead, turn to those with a high RUN percentage. I define RUN as the amount of times a runner attempts to swipe a base, divided by total opportunities. An opportunity is defined by Baseball Reference as a plate appearance where the runner was on first or second base with the next base open.

The league average runner has a RUN of 6.5 percent. Something to keep in mind as we look at several base stealers who may be available on your league’s waiver wire.

Craig Gentry
RUN - 23.2%

Gentry has performed a bit part in each of the last three seasons for the Rangers, but has seen more time this year. He’s responded with a slash line of .331/.396/.426 and a total of nine steals in 13 attempts. That’s not a great success rate, but the point is, Ron Washington trusts him enough that he’s allowed free reign on the bases.

Part of what keeps Gentry’s value depressed is the fact the Rangers lineup is so stacked there’s no way he can crack the top half. Forget the top half, he hasn’t hit higher than eighth all year. In fact, he’s the Rangers most frequent number nine hitter this season.

Gentry sprained an ankle on June 23 and since then he’s attempted just one steal - and was caught - in his last 14 games. He may be feeling the lingering effects of his injury and isn’t as valuable as was earlier in the season.

Jarrod Dyson
RUN - 24.4%

Dyson has been running in part of three seasons, but was handed a starting opportunity for the first time in his career in 2012. It wasn’t anything he did, rather an injury to Lorenzo Cain that opened the door. Needless to say, the speedy Dyson ran right through it and is among the league leaders in steals.

His first two turns with the Royals came primarily as a pinch runner. He swiped nine bags in 10 attempts in just 18 games in 2010 and 11 bags in 12 attempts in 26 games in 2011. Dyson’s job is to run. And he doesn’t disappoint.

Cain is finally back in the Royals lineup, so Dyson’s playing time will be seriously diminished. But they love his speed in KC, so he will likely stick around to pinch run. While the opportunities will be fewer, Dyson will still run when possible.

Rajai Davis
RUN - 65.2%

Nobody runs like Davis. Nobody comes close.

Sadly, Davis just can’t get on base. As such, he’s routinely hitting at the bottom of the Blue Jays order. At the time of this writing, he’s enduring an 0-23 stretch where he’s reached just three times in his last seven games. Naturally, he’s swiped three bags during his oh-fer. (He picked up a hit on Monday - a double.)

As much as Davis is on the run, it would help his cause if he was more successful. He’s stolen 23 bags in 30 attempts - a 77 percent success rate. Now, John Farrell isn’t going to throw up the red light on his burner, but it’s just a lament. Davis could be even more valuable if he could be a little more discerning when choosing his opportunities.

While he won’t help you win the batting average category, he can add some value in runs scored. Davis crosses the plate 45 percent of the time he reaches. As we head into the stretch run and if you can take the drag on batting average, Davis is the player to grab if you’re in position to pick up a few stolen base points.

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