The Top 25 Base-Stealing Seasons in the Last 25 Years
Have you ever watched a baseball game without any stolen bases? If you're like me, you probably have.
It seems like nowadays teams tend to play it safe. They go with the known opportunity over an attempt to improve upon that same opportunity with the risk of losing it. It could very well be a numbers thing, or just a general management philosophy, but it definitely has something to do with the dying art of base-stealing.
The MLB isn't full of base-stealers like it once was. There's not as much emphasis on base-running -- instead, teams rely on power hitting and power pitching to produce an advantage.
All the same, we must not forget the history of this fine skill. So let's take a glimpse back into the past quarter-century and break down the top 25 base-stealing seasons in the past 25 seasons.
Other places will go down the list of stolen base totals, but we don't do that here at numberFire. Volume is just one aspect of statistics and, as a standalone number, doesn't tell us the whole story. For that reason, we need to take efficiency into account, as well. For base-stealing, that means the success rate at which a player stole bases that season.
FanGraphs' weighted stolen base runs (wSB) metric is probably the best way to blend the best of both worlds. While comparing a player's stolen base runs created per opportunity with the league average, this also values a player's opportunities when caught stealing. The result is an estimate of the number of runs a player contributes to his team by stealing bases, as compared to the average player.
For each of the following individual seasons, that estimate rises to at least 6.7 wSB, or 6.7 stolen base runs above average. In other words, these guys produced at an elite level, putting fear into the mind of every opposing pitcher and catcher they faced.
Who are they? Wait no more.