These are the five best ways for brave baserunners to steal home
The BBQ's Best 5 is exactly what it sounds like: Each week, we'll pick a category around the world of baseball and talk about the five best things within that group. Today, we're taking a look at the five ways to steal home.
We recently saw the Florida Gators literally steal a crucial run against the Auburn Tigers by executing one of the most creative steals of home in recent baseball memory. Wednesday also marks the 10th anniversary of one of the more improbable plays in MLB history: a 41-year-old Omar Vizquel stealing home against the A's.
Stealing home is arguably the most exciting play one can execute in baseball, offering a fleeting moment of courageous chaos unlike almost anything in sports. To celebrate this wonderful play, here are the five ways to pull off the impossible task of stealing home.
5. The delicate double steal
The most traditional and common rendition of this glorious play, this is when a runner on first takes off for second base with the goal of drawing the throw from the catcher down to second base. Then, at the exact right moment, the brave runner on third base takes off and tries to sneak home before the ball is thrown back from second base.
4. Stealing on a pickoff throw
19-year-old rookie Bryce Harper audaciously swiped home against Cole Hamels and the Phillies on Sunday Night Baseball in 2012. Eager to make a statement on the national stage, Harper broke for home when Hamels threw over to first. The rest is history:
The higher difficulty level of this category is what Javier Baez pulled off against the Dodgers in the 2016 NLCS -- stealing home on a backpick to third:
3. Stealing off a longwinded left-hander
Another opportunity for brazen baserunners to swipe home is when a left-handed pitcher is relatively slow to home plate. The runner quietly increases his lead behind the pitcher before full sprinting down the line and into home plate before the pitch arrives. Melvin Upton Jr. executed this to perfection against the Rockies in 2016:
Jacoby Ellsbury pulled this one off twice, almost exactly seven years apart:
And of course, the great Jackie Robinson perfected this play in the 1955 World Series, much to the chagrin of Yankees catcher Yogi Berra:
2. Stealing on the throw back to the pitcher
Perhaps the most mischievous way to swipe home is during one of the most innocuous moments in any baseball game: When the catcher tosses the ball back to the pitcher. We watch this happen literally hundreds of times in every game, and 99.99 percent of the time, there isn't much to worry about. That is, until, a loose cannon on third base decides to spice things up. Enter Jayson Werth in 2009:
Or Travis Jankowski in 2016:
Just when they least expect it.
1. Just going for it
Any steal of home takes a level of fearlessness that is hard for us fans to comprehend. But the most audacious and heroic steals of home are the ones that happen right in front of the pitcher. There's no fooling the guy staring right at the runner -- rather, the runner takes off in a defiant act that seems to boldly dare the pitcher to simply make a play. And sometimes, the defiant runner claims victory.
Elvis Andrus knows this feeling well:
Keep stealing home, baseball players. There's just nothing like it.