Last year, you might recall I had a season-long series on the art of the stolen base and whether or not we'll ever see a 100-steal man again.
While I have my doubts, I will however be continuing that monthly column update with yearly totals so look for that at the beginning of each month for the rest of the season.
With that here is the first installment of 2010:
The top-five base stealers as of May 1, 2010 were:
1. Brett Gardner, New York Yankees
Stole 10 bases in 11 attempts in April for a team that outside of the brief Rickey Henderson years, historically doesn't emphasize or promote base stealing.
Based on that fact and 100 years of evidence, expect Gardner, while young and exciting, to taper off to around 40 steals by year's end as the Yankees philosophy has always been to favor power over speed and what is called "small ball", which has to be seen as an insult to the mighty Yankees.
10 steals in 11 attempts through 23 games (15-8 team record). On pace for 73.
2. Rajai Davis, Oakland Athletics
Like Bourn before him, Davis came on very strong late last year stealing 15 of 18 in August and 11 of 14 in September, to finish fifth in Major League Baseball.
When you consider that the A's have a history of letting their players run, and the fact Davis lasted this long in Oakland which I had doubted (see previous link) then you have to like his chances this year. Finally, 26 of his final 32 being successful 81 percent is just about his season average from last year (77%), suggesting he hasn't lost a step.
10 bases in 10 attempts in April through 25 games (13-12 team record). On pace for 66.
3. Michael Bourn, Houston Astros
On a team with not much to cheer for, Bourn will be a season-long bright spot.
The man not only stole a career best 61 bags last year but got better as the season went on. That's promising for this year when you consider last year at this time he had six in April.
Stole 9 bases in 11 attempts in April through 23 games (8-15 team record). On pace for 71.
4. Juan Pierre, Chicago White Sox
Still, if Pierre can stay healthy, productive, and be in the Sox lineup, he should do fine. If the team continues to struggle he could he dealt for help so his future production may have to be readjusted based on his new team's philosophy.
But for now, sit back and watch him run.
Stole 9 bases in 12 attempts in April through 24 games (10-14 team record). On pace for 87.
5. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
We saw Nyger Morgan accidentally do too well in the Steel City, and thus he forced his way out of town in a never-ending mill of prospect exchange.
While that fate seems inevitable for the young (23), exciting, and affordable McCutchen, right now he's all the perpetual cellar-dwelling Pirates have.
Enjoy him while you can Pirates fans...both of you. That's all I have to say.
Stole 10 bases in 12 attempts in April through 24 games (10-14 team record) on pace for 65.
There you have it, the first installment of the 2010 "Stolen Base series".
Note the new faces. We'll have to see how long they stick around. Early trends show while it will be a 'slow' year on the base paths.
Twenty players currently have 6 steals or more and thus, are on pace for over 50 steals! (52 to be exact).
So while the quantity of exceptional runners has gone down, allowing them to separate from the pack like in most years, the quantity of runners in general hoping to "keep up" has gone up creating even more new faces of intrigue as we try and guess who may take over the torch of this lost art.
Be sure to check back around June 1, and the first of every month, for a continuation on this season-long look into this lost art, one of my favorite in baseball, and all of professional sports.