Idiots Guide: 20th Century Major League Baseball Speed Demons

‘Speed Kills’ is the popular saying. In the world of baseball, it is certainly true if you happened to be the opposition competing against this list of some of the greatest 20th century base stealers in MLB history. The criteria was varied, but suffice it to say, overall baseball prowess weighed heavily in this ranking. Meaning, it wasn’t enough just to steal bases.

#10. Kenny Lofton / Cleveland Indians

ALCS: Boston Red Sox v Cleveland Indians - Game 4In 16 years Kenny Lofton played for nearly every team in major league baseball and he stole bases for each one of them. He holds the record for post season stolen bases (33), and was a 5 time stolen base leader for a season. A 6 time All-Star, he finished his career with 622 Stolen Bases.

#9. Cesar Cedeno / Houston Astros

Cesar CedenoCesar Cedeno was a 13 year veteran with 4 All-Star appearances and 5 Gold Gloves. He put pressure on opposing defenses with either his outright speed, or the threat of it. He finished his career with 550 Stolen Bases.

#8. Willie Wilson / Kansas City Royals

Kansas City Royals

Willie Wilson was a fantastic athlete, what modern baseball analysts would describe as a ‘5 tool’ player. He has 2 All-Star appearances, to go with 2 Silver Slugger awards, a batting championship, and a World Series ring. This speedster finished his career with 668 Stolen Bases.

#7. Davey Lopes / Los Angeles Dodgers

davey-lopes

Davey Lopes‘s style of play was a combination of intensity, and flair. He was a large part of the beating heart of the successful late 1970’s and 1980’s Dodgers teams.  A 4 time All-Star, 2 time World Series champion, and 2 time Stolen Base champion, Davey’s base running was top-notch. He finished his career with 557 Stolen Bases, and the love of Los Angeles.

#6. Maury Wills / Los Angeles Dodgers

Maury Wills

Maury Wills is the elder statesman of this listing. During the 1960’s Maury tore up National League base paths with blinding speed, and tenacious intensity. His bonafides include: 7 All-Star nods, 3 World Series championships,NL MVP, 2 Gold Gloves, an All-Star Game MVP, and was a 6 time NL stolen base champion. Those accomplishment are unquestionably fabulous, finishing his career with 586 Stolen Bases. Nice.

#5. Willie McGee / St. Louis Cardinals

Willie McGee

Willie McGee is a former NL MVP whose appearance humorously prodded some in the baseball world to define as ‘Alien’. What wasn’t strange about McGee was his hitting, and base running prowess. Willie was quick. Willie beat out many a ground ball on the turf in Busch Stadium, and he had the batting averages to prove it. A 4 time All-Star, 3 time Gold Glove winner, 2 time batting champion, a Silver Slugger award, and a World Series Championship, to go with the aforementioned MVP. His career statistics are impressive, his speed legendary. He finished with 352 Stolen Bases.

#4. Vince Coleman / St. Louis Cardinals 

Vince Coleman

Vince Coleman was a flash in the pan speedster in more ways than one. He  appeared virtually out of nowhere and instantly became one of the most feared base runners in 1980’s MLB. In 1985 he stole 110 bases, in 1986 he stole 107, and in 1987 he stole 109, staggering numbers. He was a 2 time All-Star, 6 time NL Stolen base champion, and a NL Rookie of the Year (1985). He finished his career with over 1,400 hits, and 752 Stolen Bases.

#3. Tim Raines / Montreal Expos

Tim Raines

Tim ‘Rock’ Raines isn’t yet in the Hall of Fame, but he definitely should be. He was one of the best players in MLB throughout the 1980’s, and his impact was unmistakeable. His career spanned a lengthy 22 years, with excellent numbers: A .294 batting average, 2,605 hits, 170 Home Runs, 980 runs batted in, and of course a gaudy 808 Stolen Bases.

#2. Lou Brock / St. Louis Cardinals 

Lou Brock 3

Before our reigning All-Time Stolen Base King, there was Lou Brock. He took the speed aspect of baseball to an entire different level. Lou lead the National League in stolen bases an impressive eight times during a nine year stretch. He became the first player to steal 50 bases and hit 20 home runs in the same season (1967). His career numbers: A .293 batting average, a milestone 3,023 hits, 149 Home Runs, and of course  938 Stolen Bases.

#1. Rickey Henderson / Oakland A’s 

Best Best Rickey H

Rickey Henderson is the All-Time Stolen Base Leader. In 1980 he stole a ridiculous 130 bases, a record that many analysts believe will never be broken. Rickey loved the game of baseball, he proved it by playing for over 20 years. If that’s not enough, he didn’t cash his first million dollar check, instead he framed it! It wasn’t until the team accountant called him about it that he cashed it. He is also known for referring to himself in the 3rd person. His career numbers are indeed Hall of Fame worthy: A .279 batting average, a milestone 3,055 hits, 297 Home Runs, 1,115 runs batted in, 2,295 runs scored, and of course those 1,406 Stolen Bases (Not a typo). What a career, what a base stealer. Rickey Henderson #1 with a bullet.

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