Ferkovich: The Stealin’ A’s: grand larceny in 1976 Oakland

From SABR member Scott Ferkovich at The National Pastime Museum on November 1, 2016:

Is the stolen base a dying art? The numbers clearly indicate that to be the case. In 2015, Major League teams swiped a total of 2,505 bags. That was the lowest total since 1974 (excluding the strike-shortened 1981 and 1994 seasons).

Cincinnati had the most thefts last year with 134. To find a team with a lower Major League–leading figure, you have to go all the way back to the 1971 Kansas City Royals, who stole 130. With the proliferation of artificial playing surfaces in the 1970s and ’80s, clubs like the Royals, St. Louis Cardinals, and Pittsburgh Pirates placed a greater emphasis on running. Indeed, it was not uncommon for some teams to top 200 stolen bases in a season.

That seems like ancient history. The New York Mets of 2007, which featured young speedsters Jose Reyes and David Wright, were the most recent club to steal at least 200.

The truly extinct breed, however, is the 300-steal team. Since 1901, only five teams have reached that total. It should come as no surprise that three of them played in the National League in the Deadball Era. The Cincinnati Reds pilfered 310 in 1910, while John McGraw’s New York Giants established the modern Major League record with 347 in 1912. They followed that up with 319 in 1913.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/stealin-s-grand-larceny-oakland-1976

Originally published: November 1, 2016. Last Updated: November 1, 2016.