By David Sabino
May 13, 2010
Nine For Now
Nothing can ruin a head-to-head fantasy week more than unexpectedly losing a category that you think is a sure-fire win. Most often the surprising stat column that blows up in your face is stolen bases, and with good reason: These are the catchers who are too tough for most runners to steal against. Here's the list of the catchers least likely to give up big stolen base numbers and some of the runners who'll have muted steals stats over the next few series because of them. For more insights, follow SI's fantasy expert David Sabino on Twitter at SI_DavidSabino.
1 Yadier Molina, Cardinals
Yadier Molina, Cardinals
Since the start of May, only Pittsburgh's Lastings Milledge has successfully swiped a bag against the most highly decorated of the Molina Brothers, who has allowed just six steals in 263 innings this season. Running against Molina is as good as flipping a coin: 50 percent are successful, 50 percent get caught. Next week's victims could include stolen base leader Juan Pierre, plus Florida speedsters Chris Coghlan and Cameron Maybin, none of whom has especially great value if they're not swiping bases.
2 Miguel Olivo, Rockies
Miguel Olivo, Rockies
With his sixth team in seven seasons, Olivo has quietly been one of the better free agent signings of the offseason despite batting just .228 so far. He's the only catcher to gun down a majority of the theft attempts against him this season, nailing 10 in 19 tries, all for a team whose catcher last season, Chris Iannetta, threw out just 15 in 65 tries. In the coming week, Olivo will be making life difficult for the power-starved trio of Michael Bourn, Scott Podsednik and Chris Getz.
3 Ivan Rodriguez, Nationals
Ivan Rodriguez, Nationals
Perhaps the old man's reputation, including 13 Gold Gloves and a career throw-out rate of 42 percent, precedes him, because only seven base stealers have even tried to advance against Pudge this year for the surprisingly spry Nationals. Don't expect big speed stats from David Wright, Angel Pagan, Luis Castillo or any Met this side of Jose Reyes. And you already know no Oriole is going to make any hay on the basepaths playing for the team that's dead last with nine SBs for the entire season thus far.
4 Ryan Hanigan, Reds
Ryan Hanigan, Reds
It's hard for Dusty Baker to keep Hanigan out of the lineup, as he's batting .391 and throwing out nearly half (45.5 percent) of the runners trying to swipe a bag for the second season in a row (43 percent in '09). Should that 45.5 percent hold, it would be the third best for a Reds catcher since 1974 with only Jason LaRue and Johnny Bench coming in better. With the Tribe, Bucs and Braves on the upcoming docket, the only players adversely effected by Hanigan's strong arm are Shin Soo-Choo, Grady Sizemore and Andrew McCutchen.
5 Matt Wieters, Orioles
Matt Wieters, Orioles
A staunch proponent of the three-run home run and opponent of "manufacturing" runs, 79-year-old former Orioles manager Earl Weaver has to smile every time he sees how the Orioles have abandoned the running game on offense and how the game's most promising backstop has all but eliminated it from Baltimore's opponents, giving up less than two-thirds of the tries against him, the fourth-best rate among major league qualifiers. Next in line to be thrown out are the aforementioned Podsednik and Getz plus Texas' Julio Borbon and Capital District rivals Nyjer Morgan and Adam Kennedy.
6 Nick Hundley, Padres
Nick Hundley, Padres
As part of a tandem (with Yorvit Torrealba) that has held base runners to a draw more than any other team's backstops (15 steals, 14 caught), the third-year backstop's emergence is a major reason for San Diego's torrid start and is far better than the 22.2 percent percent rate with which he rate he entered this season.
7 John Jaso, Rays
John Jaso, Rays
The American League must not have received the memo that said Jaso was simply an offensive player and a liability behind the plate. How else can a total of five stolen base attempts against him in more than 114 innings be explained? Oh, that's right, the Rays have an AL-best .229 opposing batting average and 2.80 ERA. In any case, it's not a good environment for Grady Sizemore, Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter or Michael Bourn to run amok on the basepaths.
8 Henry Blanco, Mets
Henry Blanco, Mets
Late-inning home run heroics aside, Blanco, once Greg Maddux's personal backstop, has an unblemished record this season, gunning down all five runners who were foolish enough to challenge his howitzer of an arm. His partner behind the CitiField plate, Rod Brajas also has had a big hand in making the resurgent Mets the second least likely team to steal against. Blanco won't play much this week as he went on the bereavement list to be with his ailing mother in Venezuela, but he's someone for your speedsters to duck in daily leagues when you can.
9 Joe Mauer, Twins
Joe Mauer, Twins
Throw away the batting titles, the MVP Award and even his acting skills demonstrated in the commercial for the video game MLB 10: The Show and you still have one of the best throwing catchers around. One out of every three would-be base stealers who dare to run against him head off the field with their heads hung low. Well played, Mauer. He'll continue to stop the station-to-station Blue Jays, Red Sox and Brewers as he continues to get back into the swing of things behind the plate following a sore heel.

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