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Top 20 Greatest Base Runners in MLB History

One of baseball’s features has enabled it to withstand the test of time. Statistics have been collected from baseball games almost as soon as teams began keeping score. This allows baseball fans from different generations to compare great players from their times. One baseball statistic that has been tracked since the beginning is stolen bases. Speed on the base paths has long been a valuable asset for baseball players. The greatest base runners of all time come from dramatically different eras, but are united by common traits, their speed and cunning while running the bases.

Speed is an important element in the composition of a successful baseball team, but has at times been undervalued in baseball’s history. Rickie Henderson’s 1982 season is regarded as one of the greatest in baseball history. In baseball’s entire history, a player has only stolen 100 or more bases in a season 21 times. It is a feat that has not been accomplished since Vince Coleman stole 109 bases during the 1987 season. Stolen base totals have dwindled in recent years, with only Jose Reyes’ 78 stolen bases in 2007 even approaching the century mark.

Stealing a base requires a base runner to precisely time when a pitcher begins his move to home. Following that moment, the base runner must advance 90 feet as fast as he can, beat the catcher’s throw, and avoid the tag. The very best in the game’s history can do this in under three seconds. Moving forward 90 feet can be the difference between scoring a run on a single and being stranded at third base. Smart base running can win baseball games. For some of the players on this list, it was a skill that earned their place in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

20 Ichiro Suzuki – OF

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19 Barry Bonds – OF

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18 Jose Reyes – SS

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17 Carl Crawford – OF

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16 Ozzie Smith – SS

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15 Maury Wills – SS

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14 Juan Pierre – OF

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13 Otis Nixon – OF

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12 Kenny Lofton – OF

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11 Willie Wilson – OF

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10 Joe Morgan – 2B

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9 Honus Wagner – SS

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8 Max Carey – OF

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7 Eddie Collins – 2B

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6 Vince Coleman – OF

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5 Tim Raines – OF

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4 Ty Cobb – OF

via en.wikipedia.org

3 Billy Hamilton – OF

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2 Lou Brock – OF

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1 Rickey Henderson – OF

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Rickey Henderson’s incredible speed enabled him to have a 25-year career in Major League Baseball. During that time, Henderson amassed and incredible 1,406 stolen bases, almost 500 more than any other player in baseball history. He holds the modern record for most stolen bases in a season at 130. Henderson was the twelve-time American League stolen bases leader and was named the AL MVP in 1990. Henderson won two World Series titles; in 1989 with the Oakland Athletics and in 1993 with the Toronto Blue Jays. Henderson has had his #24 retired by the Oakland Athletics and was inducted into Cooperstown in 2009.

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Top 20 Greatest Base Runners in MLB History