10 players who should run more in ’24

Detroit Tigers

The 2023 season was the Year of the Steal in MLB. With any luck, 2024 will bring even more stolen base fireworks around the league.

Plenty of players have already taken advantage of the new rules encouraging stolen bases, with NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. leading the charge with his historic 41-homer, 73-steal season. But there are lots of other players who we want to see swipe more bags in 2024.

Some are superstars who could post an Acuña-type season if they’re even more aggressive base-stealing this year. Some are young up-and-comers whose stolen base totals we want to see explode over a full season. All are players who can make a difference on the basepaths.

Here are 10 players who should run more this season.

Turner was perfect in 2023. Too perfect. The Phillies speedster went 30-for-30 stealing bases — making him the first player in MLB history to have a 30-steal season without ever being caught. That’s an incredible feat … But it also might tell us that Turner could be even more aggressive swiping bags in 2024.

See, you don’t need to be perfect to make stealing bases worth it. You really only need to successfully steal the base more like three-quarters of the time. If Turner, who has true elite speed (his 30.3 ft/sec sprint speed last season was top five in the Majors, as usual), pushed the envelope even more, he could easily lead the Majors in steals. He’s led his league before, with 43 in 2018 and 32 in 2021. He could blow past those numbers if he wanted to.

Volpe’s base-stealing was one of the highlights of his rookie season in the Bronx. The 22-year-old shortstop posted a 20-20 season, finishing with 21 home runs and 24 stolen bases, and that’s not even close to the numbers he could put up once he taps into the tools that made him a top prospect.

In the Minors in 2022, Volpe stole 50 bases. He could do that in the Majors, too, if he can take the next steps as a hitter and get on base more often in 2024. Volpe is a smart base-stealer who was successful 83% of the time as a rookie, combining his good speed (28.4 ft/sec) with the Yankees’ “momentum lead” base-stealing technique where the runner takes a hop-step as the pitcher begins his delivery before taking off.

The reigning AL Rookie of the Year is known first for his bat, but Henderson also has the high-end speed to go with his slugging. He had 28 home runs and 10 stolen bases in 2023, and it’s easy to see the 22-year-old rising star pushing for the 30-30 club if he decides to run more often in 2024.

Henderson had an average sprint speed of 28.8 ft/sec last season (MLB average is 27 ft/sec), and he had nine “bolts,” or individual runs at an elite 30-plus ft/sec sprint speed. If you add his Minor League totals from 2021-22 to what he’s done in the Majors, Henderson has stolen 49 bases and been caught only nine times across the last three seasons, a success rate close to 85%.

The Rangers’ breakout postseason star on their World Series run, and MLB’s No. 8 overall prospect, has the tool set to be an all-around star. That includes his speed. Carter averaged a near-elite 29.6 ft/sec sprint speed in his debut season, with 19 bolts in just 40 games between the regular season and playoffs.

He’s already shown he’s able to convert that speed into successful steals. Carter stole three bases without being caught in the regular season, then three more without being caught in the playoffs. The 21-year-old is currently projected for 17 homers and 15 steals in 2024, but if he’s as good of a hitter as he looks and takes advantage of his speed over a full season, Carter could easily reach the 20-20 club or better.

Lawlar is in the same boat as Carter — a top prospect who debuted down the stretch in 2023 and flashed game-changing speed — but for the team Carter and the Rangers defeated in the World Series. Lawlar is also 21 and ranked MLB’s No. 10 prospect, and his raw speed was even faster than Carter.

Lawlar averaged an elite 30.0 ft/sec sprint speed, putting him among the 10 fastest players in the Majors, and reached that elite 30-plus ft/sec threshold on nine of his 13 competitive runs. He didn’t steal much after his callup, but in the Minors, Lawlar had 36 steals in 2023 and 39 in 2022. That’s the type of season he could put together at the big league level if he gets a full-season shot with the NL pennant winners in 2024.

Let’s get one more toolsy young prospect on the board. Winn is probably best known for his ridiculous arm strength at shortstop, where he can touch 100 mph as an infielder, but this kid is fast, too.

The 21-year-old, who debuted last August, averaged a 29.2 ft/sec sprint speed and recorded 12 bolts at 30-plus ft/sec. But Winn only stole two bases. Yet he has top-tier speed and a 40-steal season in the Minors under his belt. That means there’s a lot more in there, just like with Lawlar. Especially if Winn wins the Cardinals’ starting shortstop job entering 2024 like he’s expected to.

Not everyone ran rampant last season. Swanson is one of those players. His stolen base total was actually cut in half from 2022 with the Braves, when he had 18 steals, to 2023 with the Cubs, when he only had nine.

The Cubs shortstop isn’t going to steal 70 like Acuña, but he’s fast (28.4 ft/sec sprint speed, nine bolts) and certainly capable of stealing. He’s also supposed to be one of the sparks of the Cubs offense. Especially if Cody Bellinger (20 steals) leaves in free agency, Swanson could help pick up some of the base-stealing slack, but even if Belli returns, Swanson’s baserunning is a valuable asset, and he could lean into it even more on the stolen base side.

The Dodgers’ stolen base leader in 2023 was Freddie Freeman, which is a pretty fun fact, but probably also means some of the younger, faster Dodgers could be running a little more. Outman is a prime candidate. (Mookie Betts seems like he’d be one, too, since he only stole 14 bases last year … But he also seems like he wants to take some of the load off his legs, as evidenced by his move from right field to second base, so we’re not going to demand he return to his 30-steal days.)

Outman, Los Angeles’ 26-year-old center fielder, has very good speed (28.9 ft/sec sprint speed, seven bolts), showed good base-stealing acumen as a rookie (16 steals, only three caught stealings) and is a good enough hitter (112 OPS+) that he should be on base with opportunities to run. Outman’s power-speed combo (23 homers with his 16 steals) pushed him to a third-place Rookie of the Year finish. With a little more running, he’s in the 20-20 club.

Suwinski is basically the Outman of the NL Central: a lefty-swinging, power-speed outfielder who had a breakout 2023.

The 25-year-old finished the season with 26 home runs, 13 stolen bases and a 115 OPS+. Like Outman, Suwinski has very good speed (28.6 ft/sec sprint speed, two bolts) and is a highly successful base-stealer (only two caught stealings). He also has 20-20 club potential or higher.

Carroll doesn’t need to run more. He had 54 steals last season (plus five more during Arizona’s pennant run). But if he wants to run more, the dynamic young superstar could steal like Rickey Henderson.

MLB.com’s Mike Petriello recently made the case for why Carroll is the No. 1 player who could challenge Rickey’s single-season stolen base record. The 23-year-old has top-of-the-scale speed (30.1 ft/sec sprint speed, 133 bolts), top-of-the-scale base-stealing ability (he was 54-for-59, a 92% success rate), he’s a great hitter who gets on base, and he’s part of an offense that benefits a lot from his ability to take the extra base at the top of the order.

So yes, we want to see Carroll run even more in 2024. Who wouldn’t want to see him chase stolen base history?

Articles You May Like

Tigers 4, Twins 3: Javy’s homer sparks comeback as the Tigers split the series
Series Preview: Detroit Tigers host Texas Rangers for 4-game weekday set
AL Central Notes: White Sox, Correa, Tigers
Woof and double woof as the Twins sweep twin bill on Saturday
Dom Johnson and the Flying Tigers crush Bradenton with four home runs

Leave a Reply

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