This article was written by L. Robert Davids
This article was published in the 1972 Baseball Research Journal
It’s hard to believe but the ML official averages show that 40-year old Willie Mays had the beat base stealing percentage in 1971. He was thrown out only 3 times in 26 tries.
This marks the fifth tine that Mays has led his league in this department since the ML started “caught stealing” records on a regular basis in 1951. Previously they had done it 1920-25, and then stopped. The AL has done it almost continuously since 1920.
As can be noted from the listing below, the league leader in total thefts frequently does not have the best percentage. An asterisk indicates when the percentage leader also led in thefts. The beat percentage in the last 21 years was compiled by Amos Otis of Kansas City in 1970 when he was nabbed only twice in 35 attempts. Bobby Bonds of the Giants was caught only 4 times in 49 attempts in 1969.
The percentage leaders, based on 20 attempts for the 154-game schedule and 21 attempts for 162 games are carried below for each year since 1951.
|Year||A.L. Leader||SB||CS||N.L. Leader||SB||CS|
|1951||Phil Rizzuto||18||3||Sam Jethroe||*35||5|
|1952||Jackie Jensen||18||6||Peewee Reese||*30||5|
|1953||Jackie Jensen||18||8||Jackie Robinson||17||4|
|1954||Forrest Jacobs||17||3||Dee Fondy||20||5|
|1955||Minnie Minoso||19||8||Willie Mays||24||4|
|1956||Luis Aparicio||*21||4||Willie Mays||*40||l0|
|1957||Jim Rivera||18||2||John Temple||19||5|
|1958||Jim Rivera||21||3||Willie Mays||*31||6|
|1959||Mickey Mantle||21||3||Willie Mays||*27||4|
|1960||Luis Aparicio||*51||8||Julian Javier||19||4|
|1961||Chuck Hinton||22||5||Frank Robinson||22||3|
|1962||Dick Howaer||19||2||Maury Wills||*104||l3|
|1963||Luis Aparicio||*40||6||Henry Aaron||31||5|
|1964||Luia Aparicio||*57||17||Tommy Harper||24||3|
|1965||Z. Versalles||27||5||Jimmy Wynn||43||4|
|1966||B. Campaneria||*52||l0||Henry Aaron||21||3|
|1967||Horace Clarke||21||4||Joe Morgan||29||5|
|1968||Tommy McCraw||20||5||Henry Aaron||28||5|
|1969||B. Campaneris||62||8||Bobby Bonds||45||4|
|1970||Amos Otis||33||2||Ken Henderson||20||3|
|1971||Tommy Harper||25||3||Willie Mays||23||3|
(Editor’s note: An updated list of year-by-year SB% leaders can be found at Baseball-Reference.com by clicking here.)
This article originally appeared in the 1972 “Baseball Research Journal.”