Which postseason teams dominate the running game?

October 1st, 2023

Stolen bases are back with a vengeance in 2023.

MLB teams are stealing 41% more bases this season than they did in 2022. There have been more steals in 2023 than in any year since 1987. And teams have been successful over 80% of the time -- more than 4 percentage points higher than in any other season since AT LEAST 1951.

That’s because of new rules designed to speed up the game and encourage more steals, including bigger bases and a limit on pickoff attempts and other disengagements.

For the first time, those rules will come into play in the postseason, where a single stolen base can change the complexion of a game or series. (Just ask  and the 2004 Red Sox.)

So which teams are best poised to take advantage? We analyzed every team’s proficiency at both stealing bases AND preventing other teams from stealing, taking into account both volume -- raw stolen-base and caught-stealing totals -- and efficiency. We also selected one position player from every team who is the biggest threat on the bases and one pitcher prone to allowing stolen bases.

Here are the postseason teams set to dominate the running game this October, with help from Statcast, powered by Google Cloud.

All stats are accurate entering Saturday's games.

1. D-backs
165 SB (2nd) | 83 SB allowed (3rd)

As one of the league’s most productive and efficient teams at both stealing bases and preventing steals, the D-backs have little competition for the top spot on this list. Arizona has swiped 159 bases as a team, tied for the second-most in MLB. Rookie (54) is one of the D-backs’ five players in double digits, thanks in part to his elite (30.0 ft/sec) Statcast sprint speed. Their 86.8% success rate is second behind only the Mets (89.1%). It’s a similar story when the D-backs are in the field. Opposing runners’ 83 steals rank third-fewest, while their success rate of 71.6% is second-worst in MLB. Arizona might not quite be No. 1 in any one category, but it’s the best all-around team in the postseason field -- and in all of MLB -- at both stealing bases and preventing opponents from doing so.

Top SB threat: Carroll (54-for-59) | Pitcher to run on: Miguel Castro (8-for-8)

2. Orioles
112 SB (16th) | 82 SB allowed (2nd)

Only the Tigers (77) have allowed fewer stolen bases than the Orioles (79), thanks to Baltimore’s 73.2% opponent success rate on the basepaths -- tied for the third-lowest mark in MLB. and backup have both cut down 15 runners in 2023, providing strong defense behind the plate. On offense, the O’s can’t match the D-backs’ volume or efficiency, but they’re still up there, ranking eighth in stolen-base percentage (82.4%). , with 30 steals, leads the way among Baltimore’s four players with double-digit thefts. Mateo is tied for sixth in MLB in Statcast sprint speed at an elite 30.1 ft/sec.

Top SB threat: Mateo (30-for-35) | Pitcher to run on: Mike Baumann (10-for-11)

3. Phillies
138 SB (T-7th) | 102 SB allowed (11th)

The Phillies are an above-average team all around when it comes to the art of the stolen base. They steal bases at an 84.1% clip, the third-best rate in the Majors. , for instance, is perfect on his 30 stolen-base attempts this season -- on pace for a record. leads the team with 31 steals, and seven Phillies have stolen 10 or more bases, the second-most of any club. On the other side of things, and -- who possess two of MLB’s strongest arms and fastest pop times behind the plate -- can make life difficult for opposing baserunners.

Top SB threat: Turner (30-for-30) | Pitcher to run on: Craig Kimbrel (12-for-12)

4. Rays
158 SB (4th) | 101 SB allowed (T-8th)

At 79.4%, the Rays are below average in terms of stealing bases successfully, but that hasn’t stopped them from trying. Tampa Bay has MLB’s fourth-most steals (158) on the league’s third-most attempts (199); four Rays have surpassed 20 steals and six have at least 10. , despite swiping 22 bags, has been caught 10 times, hampering his team’s efficiency. Teams don’t attempt a lot of steals against the Rays, but an 83.5% success rate proves Tampa Bay hasn’t been efficient in that aspect, either. Still, the Rays have done well in pure volume in terms of both stealing bases and limiting opponents on the basepaths.

Top SB threat: Josh Lowe (32-for-35) | Pitcher to run on: Tyler Glasnow (19-for-20)

5. Braves
131 SB (10th) | 122 SB allowed (T-20th)

One player alone is a huge reason the Braves rank as highly as they do on this list. is MLB’s stolen base leader with 72 -- and he just happens to have 41 homers, too. He has accounted for 55.0% of the Braves’ 127 steals as a team, although he’s been caught as many times (13) as all of his teammates combined. Atlanta’s 82.9% success rate ranks fourth in MLB. The Braves are less successful at cutting down opposing runners, allowing steals on 81.9% of their attempts (19th in MLB), although it’s worth noting that primary catcher (22.4%) has been more adept than backup (11.9%).

Top SB threat: Acuña (72-for-86) | Pitcher to run on: Spencer Strider (16-for-18)

6. Twins
86 SB (T-23rd) | 91 SB allowed (T-5th)

The Twins have just 104 stolen-base attempts on the year -- fewer than the stolen-base total for 18 teams. A 27.2 ft/sec average sprint speed, the lowest among contending teams, likely has something to do with that. But Minnesota is efficient on the basepaths, picking its spots well enough to achieve an 82.7% success rate that ranks fifth in MLB. has been caught just five times on 38 attempts, and and are a combined 22-for-23. (Buxton is 86-for-96 in his career, so he could be a huge factor on the bases if healthy.) The Twins also shine on the defensive side of things, allowing a 75.2% success rate (sixth-lowest in the Majors).

Top SB threat: Castro (33-for-38) | Pitcher to run on: Kenta Maeda (13-for-14)

7. Rangers
79 SB (27th) | 91 SB allowed (T-5th)

Despite their low volume, the Rangers swipe bags with efficiency, checking in at an above-average 80.6% clip. They have just three players in double digits, led by , who has succeeded on 19 of his 20 stolen-base attempts. Where the Rangers excel is preventing steals, as their opponents’ 74.6% success rate on the basepaths is the fifth lowest in the Majors. That’s thanks in large part to catcher , who is tied for fourth in MLB with 24 runners caught stealing.

Top SB threat: Jankowski (19-for-20) | Pitcher to run on: Jordan Montgomery (14-of-15)

8. Brewers
127 SB (11th) | 120 SB allowed (T-17th)

Pretty much everyone on the Brewers can run at least a little bit. Milwaukee has 10 players with five or more steals. Only one team, the Reds, has more players meeting that criterion. (27) and rookie (26) have led the charge, combining for more than 40 percent of Milwaukee’s 127 steals. Another rookie, outfielder , is tied for eighth in MLB in sprint speed at 30.0 ft/sec, although he has just five steals. On the flip side, though, the Brewers are allowing an 83.9% success rate to opponents, the sixth-worst clip in the Majors.

Top SB threat: Yelich (27-for-30) | Pitcher to run on: Devin Williams (10-for-11)

9. Dodgers
104 SB (19th) | 142 SB allowed (26th)

While the Dodgers don’t steal a lot of bases, they’re certainly good at picking their spots. L.A. has a success rate of 81.3%, which ranks 10th in MLB, despite being ranking 21st in stolen-base attempts. Their top two players in steals -- and -- have been caught just three times in 42 attempts. Dodgers pitchers and catchers are less effective, though, allowing an 83.5% success rate. With that said, a significant portion of that damage (39 steals in 41 attempts) came against three pitchers who won’t appear in the postseason: (traded), (traded) and (out for the season).

Top SB threat: Freeman (23-for-24) | Pitcher to run on: Bobby Miller (14-for-15)

10. Astros
106 SB (T-17th) | 126 SB allowed (23rd)

The Astros are in a similar boat as the Dodgers, ranking in the middle of the pack in steals and below average at preventing them. However, Houston has been successful on just 76.8% of its stolen-base attempts, which translates to just two more steals than L.A. on 10 more tries. The Astros have five players with double-digit steals but only one -- -- with more than 20. On defense, they’re slightly below average, allowing an opponent success rate of 80.8%.

Top SB threat: Tucker (29-for-34) | Pitcher to run on: Framber Valdez (19-for-20)

11. Blue Jays
99 SB (T-20th) | 129 SB allowed (T-24th)

Toronto has sorely lacked efficiency as well as volume, having been caught stealing 34 times. That’s good for a 74.4% success rate that leads only the Angels (69.6%). According to Statcast, the Blue Jays are tied for last in MLB with only seven “bolts” -- competitive runs at 30.0 ft/sec or better. (The Royals lead the Majors with 194 bolts, for comparison.) The Jays have allowed 84.3% of opposing runners to steal successfully, the fifth-worst mark in MLB. No Toronto hitter has more steals than 's 26. Meanwhile, their top four starting pitchers have all allowed 12 or more thefts.

Top SB threat: Merrifield (26-for-36) | Pitcher to run on: Yusei Kikuchi (14-for-15)

12. Marlins
86 SB (T-23rd) | 129 SB allowed (T-24th)

Of 2023’s contending teams, only the Rangers (79) have fewer steals than the Marlins’ 86. Miami ranks ninth in efficiency, succeeding on 81.9% of its attempts, but only and have amassed more than a mere seven steals this year. It’s even worse when it comes to letting other teams run wild, something the Marlins have done all year. Opponents are successful on 86.0% of stolen-base tries against Miami, the second-highest mark in MLB.

Top SB threat: Chisholm (22-for-25) | Pitcher to run on: Edward Cabrera (15-for-17)