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Craig Gentry and Grabbing Steals on the Fly

Most of the guys who steal huge numbers of bases are off the board, but not the Oakland outfielder.

Ezra Shaw

Congratulations, you got the No. 1 pick in your fantasy draft this year. You spent a lot of time deciding that top pick. Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera? Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout? I mean, it was a problem, but it was one hell of a problem to have.

You finally decided on Trout. He might not have had the power upside of Cabrera, but he'd steal 30-something bases, and that's worth a lot, yeah? After taking Trout, you didn't really focus on base-stealers as the draft went on. Sure, 30-something steals wasn't going to win you a category, but it was a hell of a head start.

Mike Trout has 10 steals right now.

I'm not even sort of claiming that if you took Mike Trout first overall before the season that you're sad now. Trout's been fantastic - first overall in the Yahoo! player rater, second in ESPN - but he's been fantastic in ways we didn't expect. Trout is on pace to blow way his career high in homers, while coming up well short of his 49 and 33 steals in the last two years, respectively.

What that means is that your team is likely doing well, but your strategy has gone up in smoke.

If you drafted Cabrera, you targeted a speedster fairly early, and you're fine on steals. But if you grabbed Trout, you might be hurting for steals. It's a category your strategy just didn't end up accounting for.

Now it's July, and you need to get some of the steals that Trout, it seems, isn't getting you. I wrote about Eric Young Jr. a few weeks back, and if steals are what you want, he's helpful. Now we're talking American League, and may I present to you Mr. Craig Gentry?

Gentry is a super-elite defender who hits just enough to justify his roster spot. But what he does do is run. Dude is crazy, crazy fast, and as long as he's on the field, he'll steal bases. Gentry has 16 steals (against only one caught) in 208 plate appearances-the only player with more steals than Gentry in fewer plate appearances is Jarrod Dyson (I wrote about Dyson last year, and most of what I said there still applies as well), and Dyson has been caught four times.

Gentry is the A's' fourth outfielder. (For the record, no idea if "A's'" is right. It looks awful, but there needs to be a possessive, but ... gah, I shoulda just spelled the name out.) He's not going to supplant Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, or Josh Reddick, even with Reddick struggling with the bat. This trio has a lot going for it - speed, defense, fielding, etc. What they don't have is a history of the best health. Reddick's been on the DL twice this season. Cespedes' Baseball Prospectus page lists six different individual bugaboos this year-none made him miss any real time, but dude gets hurt. Crisp's is worse, eight ouchies this year, and while he hasn't been on the DL since early last year, he's visited it several times.

On top of that, this is the Oakland A's. This is the team that has managed to have three catchers play fairly regularly. It's the most creative team in baseball, with the possible exception of Tampa Bay. Nowhere is a fourth outfielder less of an afterthought than in Oakland.

Craig Gentry isn't going to save you in power, or RBI, or runs. He'll put up a usable batting average, sure. But you want Gentry for one reason, and that's steals. If you need steals, the big names are gone. But Gentry, at only 2 percent Yahoo! ownership, is still out there, and he'll be a big ol' helper.