MLB’s Top Stolen Base Threats: A Dying Breed

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Billy Hamilton – Cincinnati Reds

Career Stolen Bases – 128

Career Stolen Base % – 80

No one in today’s game epitomizes the age-old adage “you can’t steal first base” more than Billy Hamilton. Owner of a career .288 on-base percentage, including a paltry .274 last year, Hamilton’s ability to steal a base lies solely on his ability to reach base. There is no denying his speed, as he is likely the fastest player in the game today. Unfortunately, speed does you no good if you can’t reach base at a regular clip. Hamilton improved his stolen bases success rate dramatically last season as he was caught stealing just eight times against 57 stolen bases. The Reds seem inclined to continue to give Hamilton at-bats with the hopes he can evolve into a legit lead-off threat. Should Hamilton improve his on-base prowess he possesses the skills to be one of the top base threats of this generation.

Jarrod Dyson – Kansas City Royals

Career Stolen Bases – 146

Career Stolen Base % – 86.39

Despite being only a part-time player, Dyson makes this list on the merits of his impressive stolen base success rate. Dyson currently sits in fourth place among all active players in career stolen base percentage. While he has never had a season where he has had more than 330 plate appearances, Dyson has terrorized opposing defenses with over 30 stolen bases in three of the past four seasons. Perhaps his most famous stolen base came in the ninth inning of the 2014 Wild Card Game versus the Oakland A’s. Inserted as a pinch runner with his team down a run, Dyson brazenly stole third base and scored the eventual tying run on a sacrifice fly. The Royals went on to win the game in extra innings on their way to a trip to the World Series. This year he is slated for regular at-bats as the everyday right fielder in Kansas City, so it would not be surprising to see him set a career-high in stolen bases this season.

Speedsters  who could be on this list soon:

Mallex Smith – Atlanta Braves: 228 career stolen bases in the minors including 88 in 2014.

Byron Buxton – Minnesota Twins: Slowed by injuries the past two years, Buxton possesses elite speed and posted 55 stolen bases his only fully healthy year in the minors.

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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