MLB’s Top Stolen Base Threats: A Dying Breed

Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images North America

Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images North America

Jose Altuve – Houston Astros

Career Stolen Bases – 175

Career Stolen Base % – 77.78

Altuve is one of baseball’s best all-around players as he has made three All-Star appearances, earned back-to-back Silver Slugger awards and won a Gold Glove last year for his work at second base. The diminutive spark plug also led the American League with 38 stolen bases in 2015. All told, he has recorded four straight seasons of over 30 stolen bases including a career-high 56 in 2014. Altuve is an ideal two-hole hitter as he rarely strikes out and owns a career .344 on-base percentage. He is off to a roaring start again this year as he already has six stolen bases over his team’s first 14 games. Still just 25 years old, Altuve figures to be a mainstay atop the stolen base leaderboard for years to come.

Jacoby Ellsbury – New York Yankees

Career Stolen Bases – 305

Career Stolen Base % – 83.33

When healthy, Ellsbury has proven to be one of the premier stolen base threats in all of baseball.  He has led the American League in stolen bases on three separate occasions, topping 50 stolen bases in each year with a career-high 70 in 2009. Ellsbury sits in eighth place on the active stolen base list and provided he stays healthy he should continue to climb the rankings. While his best stolen base years might be behind him, he is still a threat to swipe a bag every time he reaches base. Ellsbury combines great speed, with excellent instincts which has allowed him to be among the most dangerous base runners for nearly a decade.

Dee Gordon – Miami Marlins

Career Stolen Bases – 192

Career Stolen Base % – 76.19

Gordon has led the league in stolen bases each of the two years with 64 bags in 2014 and 58 in 2015. Some people may ding Gordon a bit based on his relatively modest success rate, but his base stealing prowess could be compared to a volume scorer in basketball. Gordon led the league in hitting last year thus affording him the opportunity to attempt the most stolen bases as well. None the less, when Gordon is on first base he strikes fear in opposing defenses and is a threat to steal a base any time he is on the pads. His speed both at the plate and on the base paths are a game changer and is something the opposing team must account for every time he enters the batters box.

One Response

  1. Michael Kozlowski

    Great article! It’s amazing how different MLB is from when I last followed it closely 25 years ago.

    I heard rumors towards the end of last season that teams were working out track stars with the intention of adding arsenals of pinch runners when the rosters expand in September, but no one went through with it.

    Like you said, there must be a lot more to base stealing than just being really fast.


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