Speed Demons: Baseball's Seven Fastest Men

Ryan SmithCorrespondent IDecember 8, 2008

Speed is the biggest factor in baseball.

It can change the complexion of the game.

With a tie score in the bottom of the ninth and a man on first, a stolen base would make it so that a single would end the game. Or if the runner’s really fast, he can score from first on an extra-base hit.

Speed never goes into a slump.

You can always bunt for a hit if you’re not swinging the bat well.

If you’re fast, you play any position.

Just take a second and imagine David Ortiz or Ryan Howard playing centerfield.

Speed thrills.

You can’t hit a triple without speed, and definitely not an inside-the-park home run. Sure, you can get lucky with an awkward bounce of the wall, but that doesn’t happen often.

Some players make the game exciting by taking the extra bag. Sometimes players couldn’t steal a bag but could run down a ball faster than anyone else. One player on this list couldn’t do either of these things. All he could do was steal a bag.


1. Rickey Henderson

The obvious number one, Henderson holds the records for most career stolen bases and runs scored. He also holds the record for most stolen bases in a single-season. Though he could steal bases well, he never hit many triples. He also had the flaw of getting caught stealing and holds that record as well.


2. Ty Cobb

With 892 steals, Cobb’s ranked fourth on the all-time list, but stealing bases wasn’t the only thing he could do. He also is second on the all-time triples list and fourth in career doubles. Cobb holds the record for most successful steals of home (54) and the most in a single season (eight). He would often sharpen his cleats to intimidate his opponents.


3. Billy Hamilton

Hamilton is third on the all-time stolen base list with 912. He holds three of the top 10 places on the single-season list. He stole over 100 stolen bases three times and more than 90 five times. His 162-game average was 93 stolen bases, 19 more than Henderson.


4. Vince Coleman

Coleman got off to a fast start, literally. He stole more than 100 bases in each of his first three seasons. He won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1985. After he left St. Louis, he never really stole as many bases. (Just to let all of you Phillies fans know, the Phils drafted him. Another upset for Phillies fans.)


5. Lou Brock

Another speed demon, Brock is second on the all-time list. He stole bases, took the extra base, and was a good hitter. He led the league in steals eight times. He is second on the all-time caught stealing list.


6. Richie Ashburn

Though Ashburn only stole 234 bases during his career, he’s on this list because he supposedly once outran the world’s fastest man, whose name I do not know. He also could chase down fly balls better than anyone else.


7. Herb Washington

Herb Washington signed with the Oakland Athletics as a pinch runner. They signed him because he was one of the fastest men in the world. He had an at-bat and never played in the field, yet he stole 31 and scored 33 runs. He played in 105 games over two seasons but called it quits. He knew next to nothing about base running and would sometimes slide into second base when he should’ve headed for third.