Bucky Gleason's Power Take: Stealing bases has become lost art in big leagues - The Buffalo News
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Bucky Gleason's Power Take: Stealing bases has become lost art in big leagues

On the day Tim Raines was inducted into the Hall of Fame with a .294 average and 808 stolen bases, Chase Utley hit a career milestone with his 150th stolen base. According to ESPN Stats & Info, his 87.1 percent success rate is the highest among players with at least 100 attempts since 1951.

It begs the question: If Utley has been that proficient, why hasn't he stolen more often during his 15 seasons? He was tied for 549th in career steals and was 33rd among active players. Only two current players, Ichiro Suzuki and Jose Reyes, are among the top 80 base stealers in major league history.

For the third straight season, teams are stealing only 0.52 bases per game. It's the fewest since MLB expanded to 30 teams in 1998 and the fewest overall since 1973. Meanwhile, homers and strikeouts have reached an all-time high.

Thirty years ago, fans tracked Rickey Henderson's stolen bases the way they now monitor Aaron Judge's homers. Henderson had 130 steals in 1982, fewer than Utley has had in his career. With stolen bases becoming a lost art, baseball is losing some of its beauty.

 

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