The race to 100 steals: Do Dee Gordon and Jose Altuve still have a chance?
(For the full size chart, click here)
One month ago, we looked at Dee Gordon's chances to become the first player in nearly 30 years to steal 100 bases in a season. As we reach the century mark in games this season, does he still have a chance?
Unfortunately for Gordon, after stealing 21 bases in 23 attempts in May, an early June hip injury slowed him down. Since June 1st, Dee Gordon is only 11-for-18 on the basepaths, a rate that will have to climb if he wants a shot at 100.
Not that he hasn't still shown off incredible speed. Teams can't even catch him when they're pitching out:
At the All-Star Game, Gordon didn't slow down any, either. He was clocked at over 20 mph coming around third base at Target Field:
But Gordon's bid for 2014 stolen base supremacy now has a challenger: Jose Altuve. After a perfect 17-for-17 basestealing stretch in the month of June, Altuve has thrust himself into the conversation. After stealing over 30 bags in each of the last two seasons, Altuve has already stolen 41 bases. Along the way, he tied Ray Chapman's 97-year-old record for consecutive games with multiple steals.
It doesn't matter if Altuve is going for second or racing home, no one has been able to catch him. His 93 percent success rate would be the fifth best all-time season among players with more than 40 steals if the year ended today.
While the road to 100 is difficult, it's not impossible. Though Gordon and Altuve are behind the pace of the previous century-mark-swipers, they are in the the neighborhood of where Rickey Henderson was at the same point in 1980 and Maury Wills in 1962.
Here's a look at stolen bases through 103 games (note: Altuve's Astros have only played 101):
Stolen Bases Through 103 Games
If you were wondering just how many bases a player could steal in a single month, here are the top 10. While Gordon's 21 in May and Altuve's 17 in June were nice, they don't even come close to reaching the leaderboard.
Most SB in a Month
Even if Gordon and Altuve fail to steal 100 bases, they could still steal 80 bases for just the 24th and 25th time in baseball history, becoming the first players since Henderson and Vince Coleman each topped the mark in 1988. For an idea of how rare that is, there have been only 43 50-HR seasons in Major League history.
At their current rates, Gordon is on pace to steal 71 and Altuve 66. There is a third player forcing his way into the conversation, too: Cincinnati rookie speedster Billy Hamilton. With 40 steals (although he has also been caught a league-leading 15 times), we could be talking about Hamilton's chances in the near future.
It will be an uphill climb for these players, but as Rickey Henderson proved by stealing 34 in one month to finish his 1980 season with exactly 100 steals, it's not impossible.
But who knows, maybe Clayton Kershaw will catch them both: