Top 5 MLB Stolen Base Leaders
Sunday April 6th, 2012
Sam Evans: Baseball is full of athletes with not only outstanding speed, but world-class predictive reflexes as well. These players use their power to steal bases as a way to create runs for their ballclub’s. While it might not be that hard to find a player who can steal bases at a productive rate, some players steal more than any other players in the sport. Here are five of baseball’s fastest base runners:
Emilio Bonifacio, CF, Miami Marlins: This year, Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen has taken advantage of his lineup’s speed, and set them free on the base paths. So far, the results haven’t gone exactly as planned. Despite their speed, the Marlins offense is struggling to score runs. Nonetheless, Marlins Center Fielder Emilio Bonifacio has been outrageously productive on the base paths. Despite only a .240 batting average, Bonifacio has a .342 OBP, which has helped produce runs for the heart of the Marlins’ order behind him. However, there is a lot wrong with Bonifacio’s hitting approach that he needs to change immediately. For instance, in 104 at-bat’s, Bonifacio has yet to record an extra base hit. I’m not sure how that’s even possible. Still, in thirteen stolen base attempts, Bonifacio has yet to have been thrown out. To have a perfect success rate is absurd for someone who leads the majors in stolen bases.
The next highest player on the stolen bases leader’s list who hasn’t been thrown out yet is Twins’ middle infielder Alexi Casilla. Casilla has only stolen five bases this year. Bonifacio will get thrown out sometime, but this is a positive sign of maturity for the Marlin’s. Bonifacio, who is twenty-seven years old, has only stolen more than forty bases once and he got caught stealing eleven times that year. If he keeps producing at this rate, he will steal seventy-eight bases this year. I would not be surprised if the Marlins have Bonifacio, Jose Reyes, and Hanley Ramirez all steal over thirty times this year. Bonifacio is one of the elite base runners in the game, and Ozzie Guillen deserves credit for giving Bonifacio the green light.
Jordan Schafer, CF, Houston Astros: Jordan Schafer came over to the Astros last summer in the Michael Bourn trade. While he wasn’t the main piece in the trade, Schafer has been a nice addition for the Houston ballclub. He has eaten some innings in Center Field, which has been huge for the Astros during their rebuilding process. He’s always been regarded as a speedy outfielder, but Houston Manager Brad Mills has really given him the chance to showcase his speed. In 2012, Schafer has stolen eleven bases in fourteen attempts, which makes him second in the majors. I’m cynical that Schafer can keep stealing bases at this rate due to his non-suggestive track record. The most SB’s he’s had in a single season is twenty-three in the Braves’ lower levels of the minor leagues in 2007.
Dee Gordon, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers: If I had to choose to run the fastest 100M time, I’d take Gordon. The son of former major leaguer Tom Gordon, Dee was born into a very athletic family. In high school, Gordon was such a talented basketball player that he originally committed to 2012 Final Four finalist, the University of Louisville, on a basketball scholarship. However, after being drafted in the fourth round in 2008, Gordon decided to play baseball. Gordon weighs only 161 pounds, which is about half of what a baby hippo weighs at birth.
In the minors, Gordon was unstoppable on the base paths. In 2009, playing for the Dodgers A-ball affiliate, Gordon stole a whopping seventy-three bases. Last year, combining Triple-A and the majors, Gordon stole fifty-four bases. AS for this year, Gordon has finally been guaranteed a full-time job as the Dodgers’ shortstop. With his speed, I think he is a solid bet to lead the majors in stolen bases this year. He’s already stolen eleven, which means if he continues at his current rate, he will have stolen seventy-one bases. If he stays healthy, that seems like a reasonable estimate.
Starlin Castro, SS, Chicago Cubs: When Starlin Castro burst into the majors in 2010; Cubs’ fans were surprised at how productive he was at such a young age. Now, only twenty-two years old, Starlin Castro already has two years of MLB experience. So far, in 2012, Castro has stolen eleven bases. That’s exactly half as much as he stole in 2011. Castro won’t be able to keep up with players like Bonifacio and Gordon, but in 2012 he could steal thirty bases. I’m sure the Cubs’ franchise would be very pleased with that!
Billy Hamilton, High-A, Cincinnati Reds: Billy Hamilton is not only the fastest player in baseball, but the best base-stealer as well. His numbers are just outrageous for a twenty-two year old in High-A ball. Last year, in 135 games, Hamilton stole 103 bases. That is not a typo. This year, Hamilton already has thirty-one steals in twenty-six games. If he plays 135 games this year at his current pace, he will steal roughly 161 bases. If Billy Hamilton and Bengie Molina were to have a foot race across the country, Hamilton would make it to London by the time Molina would be in Nevada. No, Billy Hamilton can’t walk on water. However, that doesn’t mean he can’t run on water.
In all seriousness, Hamilton is the most exciting player in the minor leagues right now. There are millions of opinions on his defense, but the consensus seems to be that he has a chance to stick at shortstop. With Hamilton’s speed, he won’t have to have a great hit tool. As long as he can make contact, he’ll get on base. Hamilton should reach the majors by 2014, and he will be ready to contribute immediately. In the last ten years, no player has been as dominant of a base stealer as Hamilton is. Once he gets to the majors, there will be nothing holding him back from stealing one hundred bases a year. Every year.
Speed is one of the more important aspects of the game. It’s not necessary for all positions, but fast players can always find a place to play. There are not many more exciting moments in baseball than when the whole stadium, including the pitcher, knows the runner is trying to steal and the runner still steals their base safely. These players are the fastest and most talented base runners in the game. As long as they stay healthy, all of these athletes should wreak havoc on the base paths.
**Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Sam on Twitter. (@RJA206)***
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Posted on May 6, 2012, in MLB Player Profiles and tagged astros, baseball, BIlly Hamilton, cubs, dee gordon, dodgers, emilio bonifacio, Jordon Schafer, leaders, marlins, mlb, reds, starlin castro, stolen base. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.