MLB Power Rankings: Rating the Speed of All 30 Major League Teams
This article will rank the teams based on how much speed each team possesses beginning with the slowest team. I will take a look at last years overall team ranking in terms of the stolen base and compare it to how I believe they will rank this year. I will also take a look at who lead the team last year in stolen bases and look at the other base stealers on the team as well.
Then, I will predict who will lead their respective teams in stolen bases and will also identify the other players who can potentially contribute in terms of speed, in 2011.
So, without further ado, let us start!
30. San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants were tied with the Cubs last year for the fewest stolen bases in Major League Baseball. The World Series winning Giants only managed to steal 55 bases overall, almost half of which, came from the speedy outfielder, Andres Torres (26). In comparison, second on the team in terms of stolen bases was Aubrey Huff with seven.
The Giants had an OK offseason that saw them neither add, nor lose speed. As it was last year, it appears as though the only threat on the base paths for the Giants in 2011 will once again be Andres Torres. There is no doubt that the Giants will be the slowest team in baseball this year. But hey, they won the World Series last year without it, so it isn't a very big deal. Although, it is a weapon I am sure they wish they had more of.
29. Detroit Tigers
The Detroit Tigers have an incredibly slow team. Last year, Detroit ranked 24th overall with 69 stolen bases. Almost all of their stolen bases came from breakout rookies Brennan Boesch (7) and Austin Jackson (27). Aside from the rookies, Johnny Damon (11) was the only other threat on the base paths for Detroit.
This year, their already pitiful stolen base numbers will drop even further with the loss of Johnny Damon in the offseason. The 2011 Detroit Tigers will feature only two stolen base threats in Jackson and Boesch, while the rest of the team is filled with slow-footed sluggers like Victor Martinez and Magglio Ordonez. It is certainly safe to say that the stolen base will not be a huge part of their game.
28. Chicago Cubs
As I wrote earlier, the Chicago Cubs were tied with the San Francisco Giants last year for the fewest stolen bases in the MLB. The bottom-dwelling Cubs were only able to muster up 55 stolen bases, most of which came from Ryan Theriot (16) and Starlin Castro (10).
The Cubs didn't add any speed in the offseason and they won't steal very many this year, especially considering they traded away Ryan Theriot to Los Angeles last year. The Cubs are probably going to be lead by Starlin Castro once again on the base paths. What separates them from the previous two teams, is that there are a few players on the team, who if remain healthy, can provide some stolen base potential. Players like Alfonso Soriano, Blake DeWitt, and Marlon Byrd come to mind. But like I said, the stolen base won't be a weapon for the Cubs in 2011.
27. Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta Braves ranked 27th last year in terms of stolen bases as they only managed to steal 63 bags in total. Last season, their only threat on the base paths was rookie sensation Jason Heyward who lead the team with a grand total of 11 stolen bases. With the exception of Heyward, not a single player on the team reached double digits in stolen bases.
The Braves didn't do much in the offseason to improve their speed by any means. In fact, the Braves actually lost speed as they traded away Omar Infante to the Marlins and lost Melky Cabrera to free agency. The Braves though, do still have a few legitimate base stealing threats. Looking at 2011, it is most likely that the Braves will be lead on the bases once again by Jason Heyward. Players like Martin Prado and Brooks Conrad will provide adequate speed as well. The most interesting player to me in terms of the stolen base, is Nate McLouth. Nate has had trouble staying in the Majors for a bit, but when he has stayed in the bigs, he has had the ability to steal bases.
26. Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays ranked 28th overall in the stolen base category as they only managed to swipe 58 bags as a team. Last season, the Jays only had one player who racked up double digits in stolen bases and that was Fred Lewis who had 17. The next closest was Jose Bautista who stole nine bases, not bad for a 50+ home run hitter, eh?
Alex Anthopolous had a very busy offseason upgrading his pitching and his speed. The biggest move was acquiring the speedster, Rajai Davis, from Oakland for basically nothing it seemed. A brilliant pickup for the Jays as they have finally addressed the need for speed that they have had for so long. Davis brings 50+ stolen base potential and a solid bat at the top of the lineup. Besides Davis, the only other potential threats are Jose Bautista and possibly Yunel Escobar.
25. St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals ranked 22nd overall in terms of the stolen base last year as they stole a mediocre 79 bases. It would shock some baseball fans to learn that Albert Pujols was the team leader in stolen bases, with 14 swiped bags. Aside from Pujols, the Cards also got contributions on the base paths by Colby Rasmus (12), Brendan Ryan (11), and Matt Holliday (9).
The St. Louis Cardinals lost a bit of speed in the offseason with the departure of Brendan Ryan. Looking ahead to the 2011 regular season, I see the newly added Ryan Theriot being the stolen base leader with St. Louis. Look once again for Pujols to make some contributions as well as Rasmus and Holliday. Another interesting source of speed to keep in the back of your mind is the catcher Yadier Molina who is one of the swifter catchers in baseball.
24. Arizona Diamondbacks
The Arizona Diamondbacks stole 86 bases last year which ranked 20th overall in the MLB. Last season, the Diamondbacks were lead by Chris Young (28), Justin Upton (18), Kelly Johnson (13), and Stephen Drew (10).
The offseason has been a mediocre one for the Diamondbacks as new GM Kevin Towers has made some interesting moves for the Dbacks. He traded away Mark Reynolds, who had some speed, and virtually replaced him with the slow-footed Melvin Mora. He also let Adam LaRoche walk away as well as other smaller pieces. I expect the Dbacks to be lead once again by Chris Young, however, I do not believe that Kelly Johnson and Stephen Drew will steal as many bags as they did last year. Upton's numbers though could increase nicely.
23. Milwaukee Brewers
The Milwaukee Brewers ranked 21st overall last season as they stole 81 bases as a team. The biggest contributors were Ryan Braun (14), Carlos Gomez (18), Rickie Weeks (11), and shortstop Alcides Escobar (10). Surprisingly, the Brew Crew actually had a nice balance of speed on their team last year.
The Brewers lost a bit of speed in the offseason as they traded away the young shortstop Alcides Escobar and in return got the slow-footed shortstop, Yuniesky Betancourt. This season, I believe the Brewers will have a few more stolen bases than they did last year. Even with no Escobar, the Brew Crew still have a speedy team. I look at Carlos Gomez to be their leader once again, as last season he stole 18 bases in 97 games. Assuming he gets significant playing time, those numbers will definitely go up. And of course Ryan Braun, Rickie Weeks, and even Corey Hart could be good sources of speed.
22. Minnesota Twins
The Minnesota Twins ranked 26th last year in overall stolen bases with a mediocre 68 total swiped bags. The Twins were lead on the base paths by Denard Span who stole a team-best 26 stolen bases. The only other threat on the base paths was second baseman Orlando Hudson who swiped ten bags in 2010.
The Twins had a nice offseason that now puts them in a position to be much faster than last year. Firstly, now that Orlando Hudson is gone, Alexi Casilla will get more playing time and will definitely steal more bags than the beloved O-Dog did. The highly-touted Tsuyoshi Nishioka has had a lot of stolen bases throughout his career and should provide some good speed for the Twins. Throw in Denard Span and you have a good amount of speed.
21. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers had 92 stolen bases last season which ranked them 16th overall. The Dodgers were lead by Rafael Furcal who swiped 22 bases during the 2010 regular season. Along with Furcal, the Dodgers got stolen base contributions from Matt Kemp (19), Jamey Carroll (12), and James Loney (10).
Heading into 2011, the Dodgers are poised to once again be a relatively speedy team. Considering that in only 97 games, Furcal managed to steal 22 bases, there is a good chance that if he stays healthy, he can steal a ton of bases. Matt Kemp will most likely be more aggressive on the base paths this year and they will get some good contributions from the before mentioned Jamey Carroll, and James Loney.
20. Houston Astros
The Houston Astros stole 100 bases last season which was made them 13th overall in total swiped bags. As usual, the Astros were lead by the speedster Michael Bourn who stole 52 bases in 2010. Other speed threats included Hunter Pence (18) and Jason Bourgeois (12).
Houston made some solid additions in the offseason, but did not add much speed. Once again, the Astros will be lead on the bases by the incredibly speedy Michael Bourn who will most likely steal 60 bases. Other stolen base threats looking ahead to 2011 are Hunter Pence, Jason Bourgeois, perhaps Clint Barmes, and even Bill Hall has been known to steal the occasional base.
19. Baltimore Orioles
The Baltimore Orioles ranked 23rd last season in stolen bases as they only swiped 76 bags. They were lead last season on the base paths by Corey Patterson who swiped 21 bases. Aside from Patterson, other speed threats included Brian Roberts (12) and Cesar Izturis (11).
The Orioles spent the bulk of their offseason acquiring and signing power hitters such as Mark Reynolds and Derrek Lee respectively. Looking at the 2011 season, I can guarantee you that Corey Patterson will not be leading the O's in stolen bases this year, as he is now in the Jays system. It is more than likely that Brian Roberts will return to being the speed leader of the team. Roberts only played in 59 games last year and managed to steal 12 bags, so a healthy Roberts will deliver 40 + stolen bases for sure. Add in the potential speed of Adam Jones and Felix Pie, and there you have it, a pretty speedy team.
18. Oakland Athletics
The Oakland Athletics ranked 3rd last year in swiped bags as they had a spectacular 156 stolen bases. The Athletics were lead last season by the incredibly speedy Rajai Davis who had a wonderful 50 stolen bases. The A's also received help on the base paths from players like Coco Crisp (32) and Cliff Pennington (29) last season.
The Athletics lost a big part of their speed game when they traded away Rajai Davis to the Toronto Blue Jays. Oakland will probably look at Coco Crisp this year for their stolen bases with the absence of Rajai. When you look at the 32 bases Coco stole last year, you think wow, that is pretty good. When you look at the fact that Crisp did it in only 75 games, you are impressed. Because Davis is gone, Crisp will get more playing time and could steal upwards of 50 bases. They will also get contributions from Cliff Pennington as well as other fast players in 2011.
17. Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox ranked 25th last year in total stolen bases with a below-average 68 stolen bases. In 2010, the Red Sox had few speed options and were lead by the young outfielder, Ryan Kalish, who had 10 stolen bases. Aside from Kalish, only Dustin Pedroia (9) and Bill Hall (9) had close to 10 swiped bags.
The Red Sox had a very busy offseason that saw them add a ton of speed. Looking ahead to the 2011 season, they will be lead by their prized offseason addition, the very speedy Carl Crawford who can steal upwards of 60 bases. In addition to Crawford, you also have Kalish and Pedroia who if get playing time and stay healthy respectively, can swipe a few bags. Also, figure in the return of Jacoby Ellsbury who is one of the better base stealers in baseball.
16. Florida Marlins
The Florida Marlins ranked 17th overall in 2010 as they had 92 stolen bases. The Marlins were lead by their prized shortstop, Hanley Ramirez, who had 32 stolen bases overall. Supporting Hanley in the speed column was Emilio Bonifacio (12) and Chris Coghlan (10).
The Florida Marlins upgraded their speed as they traded away the slugging second baseman Dan Uggla to the Braves for utility man, Omar Infante. In addition to Infante, the Marlins will once again be lead by their star, Hanley Ramirez. Also, Chris Coghlan will hopefully be able to play more than he did last year and could make an impact on the running game. Also, if Emilio Bonifacio gets more of a chance, look out, because the guy has wheels.
15. Colorado Rockies
The Colorado Rockies ranked 14th overall last year as they mustered up a very respectable 99 stolen bases in total. The Rockies were lead in 2010 by the young star, Carlos Gonzalez, who managed to steal a team-best 26 bases. Other than CarGo, Troy Tulowitzki (11) and Eric Young Jr. (12) were the only other speed threats for Colorado.
The offseason was interesting as the Rockies picked up a couple slow-footed vets who will take away from their speed. I refer to the offseason additions of utility breakout man, Ty Wigginton, and Jose Lopez. Unfortunately for the Rocks, having Lopez at second instead of Eric will really take away some of their speed. Of course, CarGo will be the stolen base leader again this year and they will also be given stolen base potential by the power hitting shorstop, Troy Tulowitzki.
14. Cleveland Indians
The Cleveland Indians ranked 18th overall last season in stolen bases with 91 overall. The Indians were lead last year by Shin-Soo Choo who stole 22 bases. Joining Choo as speed threats were Trevor Crowe (20) and Michael Brantley (10). The Indians even received contributions from their backup catcher of all people, Lou Marson, who stole 8 bags last year and was only caught once.
Looking ahead to the 2011 regular season, the Indians figure to have an even faster team than last year. I expect that will be the case as it appears as though Grady Sizemore is poised to return and we all know what he can do on the base paths. Shin-Soo Choo will once again be a threat as well as fellow outfielders Trevor Crowe and Michael Brantley. Asdrubal Cabrera is another name some might want to keep in the back of their minds as well.
13. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates ranked 19th overall last season as they swiped a decent 87 bases during 2010. Their stolen base leader was once again Andrew McCutchen who swiped 33 bags during the campaign. Joining McCutchen on the base paths was Jose Tabata (19) and Ronny Cedeno (12).
Looking ahead to the 2011 season, the speed on the Pirates roster has improved slightly. Firstly, the Pirates will most likely be lead by Andrew McCutchen who could probably steal upwards of 40 bases. Jose Tabata is another name to keep in mind as like I said, he stole 19 bases in 102 games, so a full season from Jose could equal a ton of stolen bases. Cedeno remains with the club this year and although his playing time will decrease slightly, he should steal be able to swipe a few bags. Add in a few other Pirates players with speed and you have a nice balance.
12. New York Yankees
The New York Yankees ranked 12th overall last year as they swiped 103 total bases. The Yankees were lead by speedy outfielder Brett Gardner in the speed category as he had a magnificent 47 stolen bases for New York. Derek Jeter (18) and Curtis Granderson (12) were also big parts of the running game for the Bronx Bombers.
The New York Yankees failed in the majority of their offseason endeavors and added little talent with the exception of Canadian catcher, Russell Martin. The Yankees will likely be lead once again by Brett Gardner this year who will probably steal around 50 bases. Aside from Gardner, the other threats include Derek Jeter, Ramiro Pena, Eduardo Nunez, and Curtis Granderson. All of whom have nice wheels.
11. Philadelphia Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies ranked 10th overall in team stolen bases last year as they swiped 108 bags. The Phils were lead by Shane Victorino who swiped a team-best 34 bases and was only caught six times. The Phillies also received contributions from Jayson Werth (13), Jimmy Rollins (17), and Chase Utley (13).
The Phillies had a really nice offseason that saw them sign the top free agent, Cliff Lee, and lose another top free agent in Jayson Werth. Looking ahead to the 2011 regular season, I predict that it will be Jimmy Rollins who leads the team in speed as he had 17 bags stolen last year in much less than 100 games, so if he can stay healthy, the Phils will benefit greatly. Shane Victorino of course, and Chase Utley are both significant stolen base threats as well. Domonic Brown will most likely take over for Werth in right field and the Phils speed game will be great as Brown brings 50+ stolen base potential.
10. San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres ranked a surprising 6th in last years stolen base category as they stole 124 bags all season long. The Padres were lead on the bases by outfielder Will Venable who stole 29 bases overall. Along with Venable, the Padres received help on the base paths from Chase Headley (17), Tony Gwynn (17), and Everth Cabrera (10).
The Padres as an organization took a bit of a step back this offseason as they lost their star hitter, Adrian Gonzalez. So, the Padres have lost a significant source of the one thing they seem to lack, and that is power. The one thing they do seem to have an abundance of is speed. The Pads acquired Cameron Maybin earlier in the offseason to help fill the outfield voids. Cameron could be a valuable piece on the base paths for sure. Once again though, it seems as though Will Venable will be the stolen base leader for the Pads. Helping Will, will most like be Chase Headley, Everth Cabrera, Jason Bartlett, and perhaps the O-Dog.
9. Washington Nationals
The Washington Nationals stole 110 bases last season which made them 9th overall in the MLB. They were lead during the 2010 season by the pesky and idiotic outfielder Nyjer Morgan who swiped 34 bases. Joining the speed brigade were players like Adam Kennedy (14), Ian Desmond (17), and Roger Bernadina who had 16.
The Nationals made a lot of upgrades this offseason that didn't truly upgrade their speed, but nor did they weaken it. The Nationals will be lead once again by the speedy Nyjer Morgan who can steal a ridiculous amount of bases. Even Jayson Werth has stolen a few bases and will provide more speed for the Nats than Adam Dunn did. The Nats will also have Ian Desmond and Roger Bernadina once again.
8. Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals ranked 8th overall during the 2010 season as they stole 115 bases as a team. Last season, the Royals were lead by outfielder Scott Podsednik who stole 30 bases for them. The Royals also received significant contributions from Mike Aviles (14), Chris Getz (15), Gregor Blanco (10), and Jason Kendall (12).
The Royals lost some speed this offseason as Podsednik is now a free agent and it is incredibly unlikely that he re-signs with KC. They will most likely be lead in 2011 by Chris Getz who has a ton of speed and if given enough playing time, can really make a huge impact. The Royals will also get contributions from players like Mike Aviles, Alcides Escobar, Melky Cabrera, Jason Kendall, and the incredibly speedy, Gregor Blanco.
7. Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds ranked 15th overall last season in total bases stolen with 93 acts of thievery. They were lead on the base paths by outfielder Drew Stubbs who ended up swiping 30 bases by years end. Aiding Stubbs on the base paths was MVP Joey Votto (16), Brandon Phillips (16), and Orlando Cabrera (11).
The Reds will have a lot more speed heading into 2011. It is more than likely that their stolen base leader will be Drew Stubbs once again. The Reds will also receive help on the bases from Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, and the newly-signed Fred Lewis. Other players lower down on the depth charts could also emerge as speed threats for the Reds as well.
6. Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers ranked 7th overall last season in total swiped bags as they had 123 stolen bases as a team. They were lead on the diamond by shortstop Elvis Andrus who finished 2010 with a very nice 32 stolen bases. The Rangers also received many contributions from tons of players like Julio Borbon (15), Nelson Cruz (17), David Murphy (14), and Ian Kinsler (15).
The Rangers are once again poised to have one of the fastest teams in baseball. In all likelihood, I expect that Elvis Andrus will probably lead them in terms of the stolen base during the 2011 regular season. Also expect a lot more stolen bases from Ian Kinsler who will hopefully be healthy and have plenty of opportunities to run. Nelson Cruz, David Murphy, Julio Borbon, and others will also contribute to what will be one of the faster teams in all of baseball.
5. Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox ranked 2nd overall as they had a ridiculous 160 swiped bags in 2010. They were lead on the base paths by one of the/if not the fastest man in baseball, Juan Pierre, who stole a blasphemous 68 bases in 2010. In support of Pierre, the Sox also received helped from players like Alex Rios (34), Alexi Ramirez (13), and Omar Vizquel (11).
The White Sox will once again have one of the faster teams in baseball this year. As per usual they will have Juan Pierre lighting up the base paths and probably stealing something ridiculous, like 70 bases. Vizquel will likely contribute as well as Ramirez and Rios. Basically, the White Sox haven't gained or lost speed. They will likely have the same amount of stolen bases as they did last year or maybe less, but certainly not more.
4. Seattle Mariners
The Seattle Mariners ranked 4th overall last year in total stolen bases with an impressive 142 stolen bases as a team. The Mariners were lead by both Ichiro Suzuki and Chone Figgins on the bases as they both had a spectacular 42 stolen bases. Aside from those two, the other main contributor was Franklin Gutierrez who had 25 in 2010.
Heading into the 2011 season, it is incredibly possible that the Mariners will be even faster. I imagine that they will be lead this year in stolen bases by Chone Figgins, but of course Ichiro won't be far behind. The before mentioned Franklin Gutierrez will also play a big part in their stolen base game. The reason I believe the M's will be even faster this year is because of Brendan Ryan. Ryan, who they acquired in the offseason from St. Louis will add a lot of speed to an already uncatchable Mariners team.
3. New York Mets
The New York Mets surprised me last season as they ranked 5th in overall stolen bases with like I said, a surprising 130 stolen bases. They were lead on the paths by the speedy Angel Pagan who had 37 stolen bases for the disappointing 2010 New York Mets. In addition to Pagan, the Mets also received stolen bases from Jose Reyes (30), David Wright (19), and Jason Bay (10).
The Mets are going to have a lot more stolen bases this year, than they did last year. I say that because of the return of superstar Carlos Beltran who will likely lead the team in stolen bases if healthy and barring a trade. Also, Jose Reyes, David Wright, and Jason Bay are all regulars who will put in similar stolen base numbers. Also, not forgetting Angel Pagan, who will get the starting job in all likelihood and will once again be a spark on the base paths for NY.
2. Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels finished last year with 104 stolen bases which ranked them 11th overall in the MLB. Their top base stealer was Bobby Abreu who recorded 24 stolen bases in 2010. Trailing not far behind big Bobby were Erik Aybar (22), Howie Kendrick (14), and Peter Bourjos (10).
The Los Angeles Angels are going to steal a ton of bases this year. I truly believe it for one very big reason. And that big reason is the young center fielder Peter Bourjos who saw limited action last year. Bourjos is one of the fastest players I have ever seen and will most likely steal a disgusting amount of bases given a full year of starting. Throw in the recently-acquired Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter who can steal the occasional base, and you have a speedy outfield. The infield also has a ton of speed as they have Alberto Callaspo, Erik Aybar, and Howie Kendrick. Also, their designated hitter, Bobby Abreu, will likely steal 20 + bases this year as well.
1. Tampa Bay Rays
Duh! Last season the Tampa Bay Rays lead all of baseball as they stole 172 bases as a team in 2010. The Rays were lead by Carl Crawford's 47 stolen bases which was not surprising by any means. The rest of the team was also very speedy as they had contributions from B.J. Upton (42), Evan Longoria (15), Jason Bartlett (11), Sean Rodriguez (13), and Ben Zobrist who had 24 stolen bases.
The Rays, even though they lost the speedy Carl Crawford, will still be the fastest team in the MLB. They will probably be lead by B.J. Upton this year who will take on the role of primary base stealer, replacing Carl Crawford. Looking at their outfield first, they have the always speedy Ben Zobrist as well as the potential stealing power of Johnny Damon. Waiting in the wings is also Desmond Jennings who when given a chance can light up the diamond with his speed. In the infield, Sean Rodriguez and Evan Longoria are the stolen base threats. The Rays are clearly, the fastest team in baseball.