Stealing bases may be considered a small part of the game of baseball, but it can take an offense to the next level if your team has good base-stealers. When they get on base, opposing pitchers need to pay extra attention to them, and in turn, lose a little focus on the batter in the box.
A really good base stealer can get into scoring position fairly quickly, and scoring runs is the name of the game. The Astros over the years have had their fair share of top base-stealers, with the last good one being Michael Bourn. These are the top 11 base-stealers in Houston's history.
Gerald Young played for the Astros for six years from 1987 to 1992 and collected 153 stolen bases over that time. What makes that number more impressive is he got the majority of those stolen bases in two seasons. In 1988, he had a career year with 65 stolen bases and followed it up with 35 stolen bases in 1989.
Billy Hatcher was a member of the Astros for four seasons starting in 1989. Over that time, he swiped 145 stolen bases, which is less than Young, but Hatcher was caught stealing much less than him. Over their careers, Young was caught stealing 71 times compared to Hatcher's 42.
Jeff Bagwell ranks sixth in team history in stolen bases with 202 stolen bases, but it took him 15 years to get there. That does average out to only 13 stolen bases a year, which generally doesn't classify someone as a base stealer, but he did have 30 or more stolen bases in two seasons.
Enos Cabell played with the Astros for eight years from 1975 to 1985, with stops in San Francisco and Detroit for two years in between. In his time with the Astros, he had 191 stolen bases, with the majority of his stolen bases coming from 1976 to 1979, when he had 30 or more stolen bases each season.
Terry Puhl started his career with the Astros back in 1977 and played 14 seasons with them until 1990. He swiped 217 bases while with the Astros, and over his first three full seasons, averaged 30 stolen bases.
Joe Morgan is the only Hall of Famer on this list, and started his major league career with the Astros back in 1963 at the age of 19. He went to the Reds after the 1971 season, but ended his time with the Astros with three consecutive seasons of 40 or more stolen bases.
He didn't slow down on the basepaths by going to the Reds, where he averaged over 60 stolen bases for five consecutive seasons. This was only a small part of the reason that Morgan made it to the Hall of Fame.
Willy Taveras only played two seasons for the Astros, but was a key part to the Astros 2005 World Series appearance. In 2005, he stole 34 stolen bases and followed it up stealing 33 stolen bases in 2006.
The Astros then traded him to the Rockies, where he stole an impressive 68 stolen bases in 2008. Taveras was with the Astros for a short period of time, but was one of the best base-stealers the organization has had.
Jose Cruz ranks third in Astros history with 288 stolen bases over 13 seasons. He was one of the more consistent base stealers with five seasons with over 30 stolen bases, getting as many as 44 in 1977.
Craig Biggio was one of the best base-stealers, as well as one of the best players the Houston Astros have ever had. He could do almost everything and played almost every position on the field, the true definition of a team player.
Biggio ranks second in terms of stolen bases for the Astros organization with 414 over his 20-year career. That does average out to about 20 stolen bases a season; he did have two years in 1997 and 1998 when he had 47 and 50, respectively.
If Michael Bourn wasn't traded and stayed with the Astros for more than four seasons, he would have quickly taken the top spot in Astros history for stolen bases. In those four seasons, he made it all the way to seventh in the organization's history with 193.
This year, he has 52 stolen bases, but had 41 in 2008, 61 in 2009 and 52 in 2010. Bourn is one of the fastest players in the majors and is very exciting to watch once he gets on base. I hated to see him traded because of how much he affects this offense with his speed.
Cesar Cedeno is the organizations leader in stolen bases and is number one on my list in terms of base-stealers. He played 12 seasons for the Astros from 1970 to 1981 and stole a total of 487 bases.
He had a six year stretch starting in 1972 where he stole at least 50 bases each season, including his career high of 61 in 1977. He was a good player for a number of years, but more importantly for this list, a great base-stealer, and is the best to ever play for the Houston Astros.