Opinion

Alcides Escobar’s base-stealing success is among the best in baseball history

Royals shorstop Alcides Escobar stole second before the throw to Chicago White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez in a game in May.
Royals shorstop Alcides Escobar stole second before the throw to Chicago White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez in a game in May. The Kansas City Star

Jarrod Dyson and Terrance Gore are fleet of foot.

If they didn’t know that already, Royals fans learned that in a fun way Monday with the improbable ninth-inning victory.

On Tuesday, one the Royals’ best baserunners set the team up for another victory.

The Royals and White Sox were tied 4-4 in the sixth inning when shortstop Alcides Escobar singled with one out. There was little doubt Escobar would try stealing second and he did just that, his 31st steal of the season.

Nori Aoki followed with a single that scored Escobar and pushed the Royals ahead going to the seventh inning. Often this season, a lead after six innings has resulted in a Royals win.

That obviously didn’t happen as the White Sox rallied.

However, Escobar did something else that’s been done often this season: not get caught stealing.

Escobar has 31 steals and has been caught just four times, an 88.9 percent success rate. For his career, Escobar has stolen 128 bases and been caught just 24 times.

For perspective on how good Escobar has been at thievery, consider this: He is one of four players since 1951 (when caught stealing was first officially kept as a statistic) to have 125 or more stolen bases in his career, while having been caught fewer than 25 times.

Here are the four, according to a search at Baseball-Reference.com:

Player

SB

CS

Chase Utley

136

18

Nate McLouth

133

24

Eric Byrnes

129

23

Escobar

128

24

For this season, Escobar’s stolen-base prowess is among the best in baseball. FanGraphs has a metric called Weighted Stolen Base Runs, which estimates the number of runs a player contributes to his team by stealing bases (compared to an average player).

The top five in baseball are:

Jose Altuve, Astros: 6.6

Ben Revere, Phillies: 5.7

Dee Gordon, Dodgers: 5.3

Jacoby Ellsbury, Yankees: 5.1

Alcides Escobar, Royals: 4.2

Two other notes about Escobar’s prowess on the basepaths. Last year he swiped 22 bases without being caught. Since 1951, only one player has stolen more bases without being caught: Utley had 23 in 2009.

Among the 22 steals was this one of home last September. It was a great move by Escobar:

To reach Pete Grathoff, call 816-234-4330 or send email to pgrathoff@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/pgrathoff

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