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Catchers And First Basemen With Speed

It would have been awesome to own Royals catcher John Wathan in a rotisserie league in 1982.  The 32-year-old set the single season stolen base record for catchers, with 32.  The only other backstop to reach 30 swipes in a season was Ray Schalk in 1916.  In more recent times, Jason Kendall, Ivan Rodriguez, Craig Biggio, and Russell Martin stole 20 or more bases while qualifying at catcher in fantasy leagues.  Pudge owns the only 20/20 season for a catcher.  Check out his 1999 line: .332-35-113-116-25!

Speedy first basemen are more common in baseball history than you might think; even if we raise the bar from 20 to 100 games played at the position, there have been 41 player-seasons of 30+ steals from first basemen.  Ten of those seasons have occurred since 1990.  A 25-year-old Gregg Jefferies hit .342 with 16 home runs, 83 RBI, 89 runs, and 46 steals for the Cardinals in 1993.  Otherwise, Jeff Bagwell is the only first baseman to steal 30 bags in a season since 1990 (he did it twice).  You probably recall Derrek Lee as a first baseman with decent wheels, but did you know Ryan Klesko stole 46 bases from 2000-01?

I bring all of this up in the name of looking at some catchers and first basemen who might be able to steal you ten or more bases in 2013.  At catcher, of course, you're not going to find much.  Yadier Molina stole 12 bases last year; he's flirted with ten a few times before.  Martin and Joe Mauer are probably your only other outside threats.

First base is interesting.  In the last five years, there have been 17 player-seasons of 10+ stolen bases by first basemen.  A couple of the higher totals came from Paul Goldschmidt and Eric Hosmer last year, at 18 and 16 respectively.  Goldy "has deceptive speed," D'Backs former first base coach Eric Young told MLB.com's Steve Gilbert in August.  Young felt Goldschmidt could steal 25-30 bases a season if he wanted to, but probably won't given his role as a power hitter.

Hosmer also stole 11 bases in his debut season in 2011, even though he only played 128 games.  Count me among those who expect some level of bounceback from Hosmer overall this year, though the eighth round feels early for a guy who was as consistently bad as he was in 2012.  For that matter, I can't see taking Goldschmidt 20th overall.  You can probably get the same level of production out of Jason Heyward, with more upside, ten picks later.

You may recall that in 2009, Mark Reynolds stole 24 bases to go along with his 44 home runs for Arizona.  Since then he hasn't attempted nearly as many steals, but he still has a shot at ten if healthy.  Joey Votto, Albert Pujols, Edwin Encarnacion, Brandon Belt, and Michael Cuddyer also have the ability.  The beauty of getting a dozen steals out of first base is that those are a dozen most other teams in your league are not getting from the position, so it really does put you ahead.

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