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  • Art Tornabene

"But Why?" A Steals and Catcher Article Streaming Preview

There must be a maxim or idea that I should attribute to someone about how, if enough people react to you the same way about an idea, maybe they’re right? Perhaps, because I have received a reaction from many which is the rough equivalent of the Ryan Reynolds surgical mask meme, “But Why?”, when telling people that I will be writing an article about streaming catchers and stolen bases this season. I should be more apprehensive about this task.


Genius is never understood in its time. That, or perhaps I am the only one who realizes how low of a bar it is to leap over to noticeably improve your spot in the standings over the course of a season.


Let’s start with stolen bases:


There are fifty-four lineup changes over an NFBC season. With seven bench spots having you hold onto players either recovering from injury or providing needed depth, it makes sense to be able to carry players that can diversify your statistical focus so, through focusing on match-ups, you can gain a small edge. Carrying players that can give you steals even if you are not playing them full time is a smart way to make use of your roster space. Steals are hard to come by and the difference of a few more interspersed throughout the season will be significant when the final tallies are in.


The 80th percentile for stolen bases in the main event in 2019 was around 125. If through streaming you can take yourself from 120 to 125 steals that was worth 56 spots in the stolen base ranks. If you take yourself from 90 to 95 steals it was thirty-seven spots. And you don’t have to stop at five!


My goal is to average around one per week with my selections. There is no way that streaming for stolen bases can make up all the way for a weak draft in that category. But with a continued effort to find and enhance that category, you may fall into the best steals pickup of the season or more likely be able to pick up stolen bases throughout the season sticking to the grind. You will not stream for stolen bases every one of those fifty-four roster periods, but a little bit of success at streaming steals can go a long way.


I hope to help you be early on those players going from streamer to keeper and to be on top of the teams that run, and the catchers to run on. And, as I have no positional restrictions yet placed on the streamers, I will look for both infield and outfield targets each week.


Catchers:


If you were to take all of the individual seasons by a catcher from 2016 to 2019 and rank them by most valuable on the Razzball player rater, the 60th catcher would be the approximate location of the standard 15th best catcher in any given season. To create a model of the prototype 15th best catcher, I diversified the intake-catchers from 56 to 65 on the player rater, averaged. It is an imperfect process, to be sure, but it produced interesting results. In the five Roto categories, the prototypical 15th best catcher had 330 at-bats, 40 runs, 14.5 home runs, 50 runs batted in, two stolen bases, and a .245 average.


I would expect the prototype to have more at-bats than 330 because of how important at-bats are to a catcher. When looking at that same time period, there were 94 catchers with at least 300 at-bats, 75 of those catchers, 80 percent, produced positive value on the player rater. There were 61 with 350 at-bats. 54 of those produced positive value, 89 percent. Therefore, while I expect to refine my approach as the season goes, it does seem that volume will go a long way to getting us to a positive return on our catcher streaming investment.


I will also emphasize for catchers what I emphasized for stolen bases - we have 54 chances to change our roster this season. Taking advantage of match-ups can create the incremental advantage on our opponents that we need to move you up the standings.


Conclusion:


Streaming is a tactic, it is not a strategy. The end goal is to find a player to plug into your lineup full-time. I hope we all get those players, and the imperfect roster with which we begin is molded into a masterpiece. For some, it will take more time, and that is why you have to keep grinding. I will be grinding with you all season trying to find the value in catchers and stolen base streamers. I look forward to seeing us on top in the end.