Sunday, August 12, 2007

Never Attempting a Stolen Base

Rickey Henderson is revered as the single-season and career stolen base king. Maury Wills, Lou Brock and Vince Coleman all were famous for their stolen base prowess. Heck, Herb Washington made a career out of it. But not every player in baseball history has been blessed with stolen base speed and/or instincts. Cecil Fielder took his time swiping even his first bag. But you can't say Cecil didn't try; he was caught stealing five times before his first steal.

Here's the position players with the most plate appearances who never recorded a stolen base [Note: SB records unavailable prior to 1883]:
  1. Russ Nixon, 2714
  2. Aaron Robinson, 2189
  3. Johnny Estrada, 2086
  4. Al Ferrara, 1573
  5. Ryan Howard, 1542
  6. Jason Phillips, 1537
  7. Matt Lecroy, 1519
  8. Jose Morales, 1428
  9. Bob Schmidt, 1426
  10. Javier Valentin, 1407
Four players on that list have played so far this year, and Matt Lecroy was in the majors as recently as 2006. Now, let's spice it up a little and look for the positions players who amassed the most plate appearances while never stealing a base or being caught stealing. [Note: The NL did not keep CS records until 1951, with a brief exception from 1915-1916. The AL has kept CS records since 1914 with 1917-1919 excepted. I have used only the data from when both leagues kept records, i.e., 1951-present. Blame the NL's statisticians if this upsets you.]
  1. Johnny Estrada, 2086
  2. Javier Valentin, 1407
  3. Chuck Essegian, 1140
  4. Dave Ross, 1078
  5. Jerry Narron, 926
  6. Sal Butera, 911
  7. Doug Camilli, 836
  8. Robert Machado, 694
  9. Billy Ashley, 688
  10. Jim Price, 676
Again, three of the players on this list are currently active, so it's subject to change. However, Johnny Estrada is far ahead of the pack. Perhaps not coincidentally, the three active players are all catchers. Traditionally the slowest players in baseball, let's see what happens when we cut them out of the list.

First, your top 10 non-catcher position players to never steal a base:
  1. Al Ferrara, 1573
  2. Ryan Howard, 1542
  3. Richie Scheinblum, 1392
  4. Coco Laboy, 1374
  5. Adrian Gonzalez, 1353
  6. Jeff Hamilton, 1273
  7. Sam Horn, 1185
  8. Chuck Essegian, 1140
  9. Dan Johnson, 1123
  10. Manny Jimenez, 1116
Howard, Gonzalez and Johnson are currently active. Here's the top 10 non-catcher position players with 0 SB and 0 CS:
  1. Chuck Essegian, 1140
  2. Billy Ashley, 688
  3. Kevin Kouzmanoff, 413
  4. Damon Minor, 334
  5. Mario Ramirez, 333
  6. Randy Johnson, 296 (the early-80's DH)
  7. Rich Severson, 293
  8. Bobby Etheridge, 281
  9. Willis Otanez, 231
  10. Jack Pierce, 225
Kouzmanoff is the only active player on the list, though Billy Butler is trying hard to join with 199 PA in his young career.

Now you know more than you ever wished to about the base-cloggers among big leaguers.

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