Tourtellotte: Steals of home: the millennium so far

From SABR member Shane Tourtellotte at The Hardball Times on July 19, 2016:

There’s nothing like a steal of home plate. That may not be a universal opinion, but it’s certainly my opinion. My very first piece at The Hardball Times concerned Jackie Robinson’s proclivity for swiping the dish, as did a follow-up a year later. I even used, as a hook for examining Don Drysdale’s head-hunting reputation, rookie Bryce Harper’s retaliation against a deliberate plunking by Cole Hamels by swiping home against him.

The practice is, sadly, a lot less common than it used to be. The record for steals of home in a season is eight, set by Ty Cobb in 1912. There are now years when that will the yearly total for all of major league baseball. It’s too much to expect players to steal the way they did in deadball days, but slavishly following complete games to the brink of extinction is going too far the other way.

(Two players have managed seven swipes of home in a season: Pete Reiser for the Dodgers in 1946 and Rod Carew for the Twins in 1969. Reiser was a notoriously full-steam-ahead player who drastically shortened his career with numerous crashes into unpadded outfield walls. Carew’s total was driven by the hyper-aggressiveness of manager Billy Martin, making a statement in his first year skippering.)

Read the full article here:

Originally published: July 21, 2016. Last Updated: July 21, 2016.