2010: Part II Season-Long Series-a Look at the Lost Art of Stolen Bases
Okay so I'm a little late with Part II of my season-long look into the lost art of the stolen base. You can read part I here as a template for what future articles in this series will look like (if you are a new reader of mine). For those that aren't, yes it's the same format.
In a league where I'd like to see a 100-steal man, that is no longer possible as 80 has become the new 100 in terms of unattainable records. No one's stolen even that many since Vince Coleman's 81 in 1988 so why not make that the new standard, seeing how it likely won't be reached anyway.
At the current pace, this season unfortunately will hold true to form.
As of June 1 here were the top five league leaders:
1. Rajai Davis (pictured) Oakland A's.
Stole 12 bases in 14 attempts (85.7 percent) for the month of May. His season total to date is 22 as he stole 10 bases in April, and he's currently on pace for 69 for the season. When you lead the league in steals, you get your picture in the article.
Last month in was Juan Pierre on the Sox page, this month maybe Athletics fans will come to know the series I've come to write.
With any player you'd obviously like to see him increase his base steals each month as the season goes on. So far, Davis is not disappointing in that regard. In fact, if history is any indication Davis should heat up (no pun intended), this summer as he stole 15 bases last August and 11 in September! In a league without a Coleman this era, it appears he's the best we got.
2. Juan Pierre, Chicago White Sox
Stole 10 bases in 11 attempts in May. His season total is 22 and he's on pace for 67 for the season.
Like Davis, Pierre's numbers are increasing. However, they are misleading as the league leader after April only stole one base after May 15-exactly half the month.
This means that he stole nine bases in the team's first 13 games which would have (in theory) put him on pace to steal a very eerie Carl Crawford-esque 26 steals in May, similar to how Crawford stole 21 last May.
When you look at it in that perspective, the always frustrating Pierre simply faded away which he has a history of being a nice player, but despite the speed and ability simply desires to be "good enough" when "great" could be a real possibility. Thus, the story of his career.
3. Brett Gardener, New York Yankees
My pick for "first to fade away" did not disappoint in May only swiping eight bases in 11 attempts, giving him 19 for the season on pace for 57.
As the Yankees continue to improve in the standings, expect him to fade away as getting on base and scoring runs become more important to the team that simply moving up 90 feet.
Gardner's numbers are all ready going down. Expect more of the same as he's deemed "too valuable" and " versatile" to risk injury.
4. Michael Bourn, Houston Astros
Stole eight bases in 12 attempts in May, giving him 18 for the season and putting him on pace for 54.
Bourn's numbers are startlingly going down for a player that was steadily improving last summer in this fashion. Not surprisingly his league ranking dropped from third to fourth. For a team going nowhere, why isn't he running more with nothing to lose?
5. Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers
Finally a wild card to the discussion! The super-youthful (21) Andrus is easily the most promising of the stolen base fraternity (to date) having stole 11 bases in 16 attempts in May.
Unlike Gardner his numbers are going up, and outside Davis, no one stole more bases in May than Andrus. Only concern is he may have a bit of Nyger Morgan-like carelessness on the base paths already getting caught eight times on the season in only 26 attempts (69 percent).
In a league that prides itself on an 80 percent target rate, 69 percent just won't cut it. Still, you have to like his aggressiveness and the fact that his team (29-25) is still in first place, (albeit in a very weak division) despite his struggles.
This is a classic case of having to take the bad with the good and Andrus is only going to get better. In fact, last season I predicted he would soon be a league leader in my final article in the 2009 season-long look and had him pegged for 50.
Well, there you have it. Check back around July 1 for the latest installment into the lost art of the stolen base with updates and projections and what it all means.
Statistics and information from ESPN.com and Wikipedia directly contributed to the content in this article.
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