The New York Yankees? Not really a team you think of as being speedy base-stealing types. They seem to prefer slow-footed sluggers. Indeed, Steve Goldman blamed 2004's postseason loss to the Red Sox on Torre's refusal to put in Bubba Crosby to pinch-run, unlike Francona with Dave Roberts.
But Steve of WasWatching has this interesting post, pointing out that the 2005-2007 Yankees were a base-stealing machine.
He includes this table of players who stole bases for the Yankees in those years:
Player SB CS SBS%
Tino Martinez 2 0 100.0%
Jason Giambi 3 0 100.0%
Jorge Posada 6 0 100.0%
Matt Lawton 1 0 100.0%
Kevin Reese 1 0 100.0%
Kevin Thompson 2 0 100.0%
Miguel Cairo 21 2 91.3%
Tony Womack 27 5 84.4%
Gary Sheffield 15 3 83.3%
Alex Rodriguez 60 14 81.1%
Bubba Crosby 8 2 80.0%
Johnny Damon 52 13 80.0%
Bobby Abreu 35 10 77.8%
Derek Jeter 63 18 77.8%
Melky Cabrera 25 10 71.4%
Aaron Guiel 2 1 66.7%
Hideki Matsui 7 4 63.6%
Bern. Williams 3 2 60.0%
Robinson Cano 10 10 50.0%
Nick Green 1 1 50.0%
Andy Phillips 3 5 37.5%
It might seem strange to see Jorge Posada, a slow catcher not known for his baserunning smarts, so high on the list. But he and the rest of the top six are basically there because of small sample size. They are players who either don't steal unless they're really, really, really sure they can make it, or who didn't get much of a chance to try.
The real base-stealing workhorse was Miguel Cairo. Looks like stats back up what then-third base coach Larry Bowa said: Miguel Cairo was the best baserunner on the team.
Tony Womack was also a pretty successful base-stealer. 27 stolen bases is a lot, considering he was only with the Yankees for a year and was not an everyday player.
Bubba has a pretty small sample size, but his 80% is respectable. If you throw in his 2004 numbers, it's 10-2, or 83.3%.
Melky's 71% is a bit disappointing considering his speed, but then, he is something of a bonehead
on the basepaths.
Robby Cano's 10-10 is dreadful. He probably shouldn't try to steal at all.
And the only one on the list with a success rate under 50%...Andy Phillips. Part of it is small sample size, but part of it is that he's not a very good baserunner. He admits it himself. Might be something to work on. The more skills the better if you're fighting for a roster spot.
Steve wonders why there wasn't more attention paid to the Yanks' base-stealing prowess. I'm not sure. Part of might be the widespread belief that you shouldn't steal bases if you have a good team - especially a good slugging team. ("Don't take the bat out of their hands.") Part of it might be stat types like Bill James arguing that stolen bases don't make much difference.
Recently, stealing bases has come back into fashion
, so maybe there will be more interest in base-stealing stats.