Who is the top base-stealing threat for each MLB team?

Detroit Tigers

Among the several MLB rule changes this offseason were the pitch clock, a limit on pickoff attempts and the bases becoming slightly larger (and therefore, slightly closer to one another). An expected by-product of these rules was that stolen base attempts would become both more common and more successful, and that’s exactly how it played out during Opening Weekend.

As such, it’s arguably more important than ever to have some speed in the lineup. Which speedsters are their teams’ biggest assets on the basepaths? Our MLB.com beat reporters break down the top basestealing threat for each club.

Blue Jays: Bo Bichette, SS
Bichette is one of many Blue Jays who wants to be more aggressive on the bases this season. Bichette doesn’t have elite speed, necessarily, but he’s certainly fast enough and times his jumps well. Hitting in the No. 2 spot doesn’t hurt, either, as Bichette is a candidate to finish near the top of the league in hits. Look for Bichette to take a run at 30-plus steals, clearing his career high of 25 from 2021. — Keegan Matheson

Orioles: Jorge Mateo, SS
It’s a tough choice between Mateo and Cedric Mullins, as the duo paced the AL with 35 and 34 stolen bases, respectively, last season. And through Baltimore’s first four games of 2023, each had four steals, tied for the most in MLB at the time. We’ll give the slight edge to Mateo, though, as his ‘22 average sprint speed (30.1 feet/second, per Statcast) was faster than Mullins’ (28.4). — Jake Rill

Rays: Jose Siri, CF
This is probably the Rays’ fastest team since Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton were burning up the basepaths more than a decade ago, and nobody on their roster is faster than Siri. He only stole 17 bases in 125 career games entering this year, but he’ll get a lot more chances this season as the everyday center fielder. Think he’s ready to run? Remember, he stole home in the seventh inning of a Spring Training game. — Adam Berry

Red Sox: Adalberto Mondesi, SS-2B
Why is the top choice a player who opened the season on the 60-day injured list? Because the Red Sox don’t have any base stealers on their current roster aside from reserve outfielder Raimel Tapia. The answer could change if Jarren Duran re-emerges from Triple-A Worcester, or if David Hamilton, who stole 70 bases last year at Double-A, gets his first call-up. Mondesi could be back around June 1. Trevor Story, who is targeting a mid-July return, could also challenge for the team lead in stolen bases. — Ian Browne

Yankees: Anthony Volpe, SS
Volpe has added a fresh dynamic to the bottom of the lineup, joining Fritz Maisel (1913) as the only Yankees to steal at least one base in their first three career games. As manager Aaron Boone said: “He’s not a burner. He’s got good speed, but he’s a special baserunner. He does his homework, stays under control and then runs well. He’s the real deal on the bases.” — Bryan Hoch

Guardians: José Ramírez, 3B
Ramírez may not be the fastest runner on the Guardians, but his craftiness should make him a threat on the basepaths in 2023. One of five Cleveland players with at least 18 stolen bases in ’22, Ramírez has swiped at least 20 bags in five of the last seven seasons. Both the new rules and his position near the top of the batting order should give the Guardians’ third baseman ample opportunity to rack up steals. — Sonja Chen

Royals: Bobby Witt Jr., SS
Witt was among the fastest players in the game in his rookie season last year, registering a 30.4 feet/second sprint speed, which was tied with two other players for second-best in the Major Leagues. Witt swiped 30 bags last season and registered 107 bolts, per Statcast, which is any run with a sprint speed of at least 30 ft/sec. Witt, who is at the top of the Royals’ lineup again this season, is itching to take advantage of the bigger bases, as well as the pitcher’s restrictions on pickoffs, and he’ll get the green light when he reaches base. — Anne Rogers

Tigers: Matt Vierling, CF
With nine career stolen bases, it would be a stretch to say Vierling has been a base stealing “threat,” but don’t be surprised if the center fielder takes more chances this season on the basepaths. While with the Phillies in 2022, Vierling ranked 20th in the Majors with a 29.6 ft/sec sprint speed (the league average is 27), and was No. 7 among players at his position. Expect him to be off and running this season. — Alyson Footer

Twins: Byron Buxton, CF
Health is, as always, the issue with Buxton, but his quickness and talent are undeniable. Buxton hasn’t recorded double-digit steals since 2019 but also hasn’t played more than 92 games in any of the past three seasons. He stole a career-high 29 bags back in 2017 and still tied for the team lead with just six in 2022 — the lowest total by any MLB team leader last season. Teammate Willi Castro (9 SB with the Tigers last season) could challenge Buxton, but if the talented center fielder can stay on the field, he’s in a good position to lead the Twins with double-digit swipes. — Theo DeRosa

White Sox: Tim Anderson, SS
Manager Pedro Grifol spoke in the first week of the regular season about how Anderson has the green light to run, and he added that when he was a member of the Royals coaching staff, it was especially tough to game plan against Anderson on the basepaths. He has good tempo, good rhythm and picks the perfect pitches and perfect time to run, according to Grifol. Anderson is completely healthy, has 106 career stolen bases and has six separate seasons with double-digit stolen bases. The White Sox, as a whole under Grifol, are looking to take that extra base whenever it’s presented to them. — Scott Merkin

Angels: Shohei Ohtani, DH/SP
His numbers were way down last year, but let’s not forget that the two-way star had a sizable 26 steals during his AL MVP Award-winning season in 2021. For all his pitching prowess and towering home runs, it’s easy to forget that he also moves really well, averaging a 28.3 foot-per-second sprint speed last season, well above MLB average. — Daniel Kramer

Astros: Kyle Tucker, RF
At 6-foot-4, Kyle Tucker doesn’t profile as the prototypical base stealer, but his ability to reach top speed quicker than most players his size, as well as a penchant for being smartly aggressive on the basepaths, make him one of the Astros’ top threats. Tucker was the only player in the Majors to homer 30 or more times and steal 25 or more bases in ’22. With bigger bases enticing players to run more this year, don’t be surprised if Tucker ends up among the AL leaders in steals. — Alyson Footer

Athletics: Esteury Ruiz, CF
Ruiz brings legit 80-grade speed, and it showed last season, as his 85 combined stolen bases at Double-A and Triple-A led all Minor League players. For an A’s offense looking to generate runs however it can, expect Oakland’s No. 5 prospect, who enters 2023 as the club’s everyday center fielder, to be unleashed on the basepaths early and often with a real chance to lead the league in stolen bases. — Martín Gallegos

Mariners: Julio Rodríguez, CF
The AL Rookie of the Year Award winner last year became the first player in AL/NL history to swipe 25 bases while also homering 25 times in his debut season. He became less aggressive as the season went on, in part due to wrist and back injuries in the second half. But with MLB’s new rules, expect the Mariners’ fastest — and most dynamic — player to be consistently on the hunt for the extra 90 feet. — Daniel Kramer

Rangers: Marcus Semien, 2B
The easy answer would be outfielder Bubba Thompson, who had the second-highest sprint speed in the Majors last year at 30.4 feet per second. But being the biggest basestealing threat involves getting on base, and Thompson isn’t getting the plate appearances for that to be possible. Instead, Marcus Semien, who logged his first career 25-25 season last year in Texas, is the biggest threat of the everyday players and it’s not particularly close. Semien had an average sprint speed of 28.9 ft/sec last season and is a smart baserunner who doesn’t run recklessly. It wouldn’t be a shock for him to improve upon his ‘22 numbers easily this season. — Kennedi Landry

Braves: Ronald Acuña Jr., RF
No longer dealing with the lingering effects of a torn ACL, Acuña is shooting for the 40-40 season he fell three steals shy of in 2019. The Braves right fielder was successful with 29 of 40 stolen base attempts last year, when he totaled just 119 games and was regularly limited by his surgically repaired right knee. With Matt Olson and Austin Riley sitting directly behind him in the lineup, it might be wise for Acuña to be somewhat judicious with his baserunning. But, the aggressive outfielder should still rank among the league leaders in stolen base attempts. — Mark Bowman

Marlins: Jon Berti, UTIL
There’s no better choice than Berti, who played in the fewest games (102) in a full season by a Major League stolen-base champion (41) in 2022. There aren’t many guys whom the entire ballpark knows are going to steal and still get in safely, according to manager Skip Schumaker. Berti, who recorded an average sprint speed of 29.6 ft/sec last season, is one of them. — Christina De Nicola

Mets: Starling Marte, OF
The Major League stolen base leader just two years ago with 47, Marte didn’t run much last season due in part to a litany of injuries. But he’s healthy following offseason groin surgery and still willing to run at age 34, as he demonstrated with three stolen base attempts over the season’s opening weekend. Marte isn’t as fast as teammate Tim Locastro, who figures to swipe his share of bags in a reserve role. But Marte’s status as the everyday No. 2 hitter should afford him ample opportunities. — Anthony DiComo

Nationals: Victor Robles, CF
Victor Robles’ athleticism in the outfield translates to the base paths. He has finished above the league’s average sprint speed every season, and the 25-year-old is eager to run once he gets on base. After Robles stole 15 bases in 132 games last season, an improved approach at the plate should create more opportunities this year. Robles drew three walks in his first three games of 2023, compared to 17 walks all of ’22. He ranked fifth in the NL in stolen bases in 2019 (28). — Jessica Camerato

Phillies: Trea Turner, SS
Last season, catcher J.T. Realmuto was the team leader in stolen bases with 21. That will change with Turner as the team’s leadoff hitter in 2023. Turner has stolen 230 bases during his 10-year career and is Philadelphia’s best running threat since Jimmy Rollins held the shortstop position from 2000-14. Turner stole his first base of the season on Tuesday against the Yankees, and expect that to continue the team gets back in sync. Last year, Turner stole 27 bases for the Dodgers and was caught three times. His career high in bags stolen in a season occurred in 2017 when he stole 46 bases for the Nationals. — Bill Ladson

Brewers: Garrett Mitchell, CF
Called up at the end of August, Mitchell was the sixth-fastest player in MLB last season in Statcast’s sprint speed metric at 30.2 feet per second and third-fastest in 90-foot running splits. He’s one of the trio of position player prospects, with second baseman Brice Turang and outfielder Joey Wiemer, who have given the Brewers a jolt of speed in the early going this season, turning a team that ranked 10th last season in stolen bases into one that could challenge for the league lead this year. — Adam McCalvy

Cardinals: Tommy Edman, SS
Edman not only stole 32 bases in 2022, but he did it in 35 chances. The 32 steals were second in the NL behind only Miami’s Jon Berti. Edman wants to run much more in 2023 with the new rules limiting pitcher disengagements with the rubber, and he thinks there’s no reason he shouldn’t be able to approach 45-to-50 steals. Edman’s attempts will likely depend on his on-base percentage. He stole 15 bases in 16 attempts as a rookie in 2019 when he had a career-best .350 on-base percentage. He’s had a .308 and a .324 on-base percentage the past two seasons, during which he’s stolen 62 bases in 70 attempts. — John Denton

Cubs: Nico Hoerner, 2B
During Spring Training, Cubs manager David Ross named Hoerner the leadoff man, because he felt the second baseman would be a great tone-setter for a lineup built around gap-to-gap hitting and aggressiveness on the basepaths. Last season, Hoerner led the Cubs with 20 stolen bases and was only caught twice (91 percent success rate). With Dansby Swanson hitting in the second slot, if Hoerner reaches, he will be looking to get to second or be aggressive on first-to-third chances to try to get the offense rolling. — Jordan Bastain

Pirates: Ji Hwan Bae, 2B
The rookie showed off his speed on Opening Day when he grabbed two bags. At Triple-A Indianapolis last season, Bae stole 30 bases while being caught just eight times. The Pirates have two other candidates, who also happen to be two of their best young players. The rare athletic specimen known as Oneil Cruz had 10 steals in 87 games last season. Once he gets a head of steam going, few other players are as fast. Ke’Bryan Hayes stole 20 bases in ‘22 and could be more active this season with the new rules in place. — Ian Browne

Reds: Jonathan India, 2B 
The club’s leadoff hitter, India is not a plus speed player, but he spent the offseason slimming down to gain more sprint speed after a 2022 season where his legs were often injured. In camp and in early regular season games, he has shown a willingness to be more aggressive. The Reds don’t have any standout speed threats but with India, Jake Fraley, Jose Barrero and TJ Friedl, they have runners they aren’t afraid to send when the situation calls for it. — Mark Sheldon

D-Backs: Corbin Carroll, OF
Carroll recorded the top average sprint speed in the Majors during his time in the big leagues late last season, and he has good instincts to go along with it. In the D-backs’ win Sunday against the Dodgers, Carroll stole second and third, allowing him to score on a bloop to right. Then, later in the game, he stole second without a throw. That opened up a hole at first that Jake McCarthy exploited for a bunt single that drove home the winning run. — Steve Gilbert

Dodgers: James Outman, OF
Last season the answer would’ve easily been Trea Turner. But without the personnel, Outman does project as the player who could create the most havoc on the bases. Outman only stole 13 bases in the Minors last season, but could pick his spots with the Dodgers this season. — Juan Toribio

Giants: Bryce Johnson, OF
Bryce Johnson hasn’t gotten many opportunities with the Giants since he was drafted in 2017. But his speed on the basepaths should give him a chance to keep his spot on the team this season. Johnson stole at least 30 bases at Triple-A Sacramento in 2021 and 2022 and led Spring Training with 12 bag swipes. If he can get on base, he has extremely dangerous speed. — Joey Pollizze

Padres: Fernando Tatis Jr., RF
Tatis should again be one of the sport’s most exciting baserunners when he returns from his PED suspension on April 20. He swiped 25 bags in 2021, but 23 of them came through July, before the Padres asked him to ease off to avoid issues with his balky shoulder. Tatis has since had that left shoulder surgically repaired, and he says it feels fully secure. The Padres plan to turn Tatis loose in the leadoff spot when he returns. — AJ Cassavell

Rockies: Ezequiel Tovar, SS
The Rockies don’t have a lot of speedsters on the team, but Tovar could give them a boost this season. The young shortstop had 74 stolen bases over four Minor League seasons and could be on the run a lot this season. The key for him will be to find ways to get on base enough times to make that a big part of his game. — Thomas Harding

Articles You May Like

Jace Jung homers twice as Hens crush the Storm Chasers
AL Central Notes: Crochet, Clevinger, Wacha, Lange
MLBTR Podcast: Injured Astros, The Chances Of Bad Teams Rebounding In 2025 And More
Javier Báez to the 10-day IL, Ryan Kreidler recalled from Toledo
Tigers 0, Astros 4: Tigers shut out in the Lone Star state

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *