TODAYSPORTSTAT-July 6, 2017
Oakland A’s outfielder Rajai Davis last night became the ninth player since 1913 to steal four bases in a game at age 35 or older. Davis, who is 36 years old (and 259 days) did it in the A’s 7-4 win over the White Sox.
Kenny Lofton is the oldest player in MLB history to steal four or more bases in a game. Lofton, at age 40-029, had four steals for the Rangers in a game on June 29, 2007. He is also the only player in his 40’s to steal four bases in a contest.
Thirty-six different players age 30 or older have stolen four or more bases in a game. Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson tops this group doing it four times in his career. Tony Womack, Ichiro Suzuki, Otis Nixon and Davey Lopes each stole four or more bases in a game three times at age 30 or older.
You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to discover the secret to Rickey Henderson’s success in baseball: He had great speed and a great eye at the plate. That translated to a career where Henderson is not only the MLB career leader in stolen bases with 1,406 (he is the only player with more than 1,000 career steals) but he is also second all-time behind Barry Bonds in walks with 2,190.
That combination of speed and discernment at the plate makes Rickey the only player in MLB history to have over 1,000 steals and walks. But there are a few other players who have taken advantage of their own double-barreled threat at the plate and on the base paths. In fact, there are 10 players in MLB history who have at least 500 stolen bases and 1,000 walks. They are:
Player, Stolen Bases, Walks (last MLB season)
Barry Bonds, 514-2558 (2007)
Brett Butler, 558-1129 (1997)
Max Carey, 728-1040 (1929)
Ty Cobb, 897-1249 (1928)
Eddie Collins, 741-1499 (1930)
Rickey Henderson, 1406-2190 (2003)
Paul Molitor, 504-1094 (1998)
Joe Morgan, 689-1865 (1984)
Tim Raines, 808-1330 (2002)
Ozzie Smith, 580-1072 (1996)
Of the 10 players above, seven are in the Hall of Fame; the three that are not: Bonds, Butler and Raines.
Looking at today’s players, there are eight players who were active in 2014 that have 250 career stolen bases and 500 career walks. The eight:
Player, Stolen Bases, Walks
Melvin Upton, 264-531
Ichiro Suzuki, 490-573
Jimmy Rollins, 456-768
Alex Rodriquez, 322-1258
Hanley Ramirez, 262-514
Rafael Furcal, 314-643
Coco Crisp, 297-506
Carlos Beltran, 311-978
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Earlier this week the New York Yankees signed Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year contract worth $153 million. Several media outlets and baseball pundits questioned whether or not it was a good move on the part of the Yankees. Many questioned either the length or value of the contract, while others opined that Ellsbury was just not the type of player that deserved that type of free-agent contract.
In defense of Ellsbury, he played a major role in the Red Sox winning the championship last year. He led the majors with 52 stolen bases and batted .298 while playing a solid center field. He has stolen 50 or more base in three of his seven seasons. But his speed on the basepaths was a bone of contention for some people who see Ellsbury as too one-dimensional of a player.
Maybe, however, the Yankees decision was a simple response to a need that has plagued the team for almost 25 years.
As mentioned above, Ellsbury led the majors last season with 52 stolen bases. He was the only player to steal 50 or more last season. Do you know the last Yankees player to steal 50 or more bases in a season? It happened in 1988. Rickey Henderson stole 93 in that season, the last time the Yanks had a player reach the 50-steal mark in a season.
Here’s a look at the last time each of the major league teams had a player who stole 50 or more bases in a season.
American League teams
1988: New York Yankees (Rickey Henderson, 93)
1995: Texas (Otis Nixon, 50)
1996: Kansas City (Tom Goodwin, 66)
1997: Minnesota (Chuck Knoblauch, 62)
1998: Cleveland (Kenny Lofton, 54)
1998: Toronto (Shannon Stewart, 51)
2001: Detroit (Roger Cedeno, 55)
2001: Seattle (Ichiro Suzuki, 56)
2006: L.A. Angels (Chone Figgins, 52)
2007: Baltimore (Brian Roberts, 50)
2009: Tampa Bay (Carl Crawford, 60)
2010: Chicago White Sox (Juan Pierre, 68)
2010: Houston (Michael Bourne, 52)
2010: Oakland (Rajai Davis, 50)
2013: Boston (Jacoby Ellsbury, 52)
National League teams
1985: Philadelphia (Juan Samuel, 53)
1987: San Diego (Tony Gwynn, 56)
1990: San Francisco (Brett Butler, 51)
1991: Atlanta (Otis Nixon, 72)
1993: Washington (Marquis Grissom, 53)
1997: Cincinnati (Deion Sanders, 56)
1997: St. Louis (Delino DeShields, 55)
1998: Pittsburgh (Tony Womack, 58)
2004: Milwaukee (Scott Podsednik, 70)
2006: Chicago Cubs (Juan Pierre, 58)
2007: Arizona (Eric Byrnes, 50)
2007: Los Angeles Dodgers (Juan Pierre, 64)
2007: Miami (Hanley Ramirez, 51)
2008: Colorado (Willy Taveras, 68)
2008: New York Mets (Jose Reyes, 56)
* Note: Did you notice that one player, Juan Pierre, is the last player to steal 50 or more bases for three different teams (Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs and L.A. Dodgers), and Otis Nixon is the last player to steal 50-plus bases for two teams (Texas and Atlanta).
Will a full season of Ellsbury stealing bases lead the Yankees to a World Championship? We’ll have a few months to see how well this free agent signing plays out. No doubt the Bronx Bombers are hoping Ellsbury’s stolen base skill will be a catalyst in that journey back to the World Series.
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Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a biweekly blog published every Wednesday and Sunday
Here’s a few “fun” stats culled from the world of baseball…
* A total of 8,184 players made their major league debut between 1960 and 2010. Of that total, 81.6 percent were born in the United States. It’s probably not that difficult to figure out in which state the highest percentage of these players were born… California with 18.1 percent. Here’s the top ten:
1. California 18.1%
2. Texas 5.6%
3. Florida 4.5%
4. New York 4.2%
5. Illinois 4.0%
6. Ohio 3.7%
7. Pennsylvania 3.3%
8. Michigan 2.3%
9. Georgia 2.0%
10. New Jersey 2.0%
Of the 1,504 foreign-born players who made their debut between 1960-2010, the Dominican Republic had the most with 514 followed by Venezuela (250) and Puerto Rico (215)
* Of those 8,184 players, 64.7 percent batted right-handed, 27.2 percent batted left-handed and 8.2 percent were switch-hitters. Just over 78% threw right-handed; just under 22% were left-handed throwers.
* One of my high school buddies, Fred Sorenson, who now resides in Basel, Switzerland, was one of those rare athletes who batted right-handed yet threw left-handed. Fred wrote me a few weeks ago and suggested I do a little research on baseball players who threw left and batted right. He said he remembered a time when Rickey Henderson was maybe the only player in the bigs who batted right and threw left.
First, a quick trip around the current rosters of the 30 major league teams revealed only three players (non-pitchers) who have B-R, T-L notation by their names: Arizona’s Collin Cowgill, Pittsburgh’s Ryan Ludwig and San Francisco’s Cody Ross.
On February 10, 2009, writer Steve Treder on www.hardballtimes.com wrote a piece titled “Bats right, throws left: The best players in major league history.” Treder ranked these players as the top 10 in that category:
1. Rickey Henderson (1978-2003)… Jimmy Ryan (1885-1903)… 3. Hal Chase (1905-19)… 4. Cleon Jones (1963-76)… 5. Rube Bressler (1914-32)… 6. Johnny Cooney (1921-44)… 7. Hick Carpenter (1879-92)… 8. Mark Carreon (1987-96)… 9. Ryan Ludwig (2002-active)… 10. Cody Ross (2003-active)