At first, it looks like a misprint.
Five steals on zero hits? How can that be?
What Ian Lewis accomplished for Single-A Jupiter on Wednesday night was so rare it’s been done just once in AL/NL history dating back to 1901. (The lone big leaguer to pull off the five-steal, zero-hit performance was none other than all-time stolen base leader Rickey Henderson, who did so for the A’s on July 29, 1989.)
After a first-inning flyout, the switch-hitter got into an 0-2 hole in his second plate appearance in the third. He made contact, hitting a seemingly harmless roller to second base, but he never broke stride out of the box, ultimately reaching on a fielding error that was a precursor of things to come.
On the first pitch of the following at-bat, Lewis took off and swiped second easily with a headfirst slide. He scored later in the frame on an RBI triple by Marlins No. 9 prospect Kemp Alderman.
The fifth provided similar fireworks. This time, it was a grounder to short, but with Lewis busting it down the line, a rushed throw landed in the dirt and secured him another chance to take off. Mets starter Felipe De La Cruz made two consecutive pickoff attempts to try and keep him close, a fruitless endeavor.
Steal No. 2 of the day was secured two pitches later. On ball four, Lewis got a walking lead and slid into third without a throw. Then things got wacky.
Taking an aggressive lead off third, Lewis found himself in the enviable spot of having the defense focus elsewhere. As De La Cruz made a pickoff throw to first with the runner taking off, St. Lucie’s infielders scrambled to catch Lewis bolting down the line to no avail, giving him the clean sweep of stealing second, third and home in the same frame.
After Lewis drew a four-pitch walk in the seventh with a runner at second, he didn't have an open base to swipe. But that just meant he had to get creative. Ahead of him on the basepaths was Jordan McCants, the lone member of the current Hammerheads roster to have more steals (29) in 2023. When McCants broke for third, Lewis nabbed second on the back end for his fifth bag of the game.
While five stolen bases in a game is impressive, it’s not unprecedented. In order to have a day of unique statistical relevance, Lewis needed to not get a hit in his final at-bat in the ninth. He popped out to second on the first pitch.
Unsurprisingly, Lewis’ highest-rated tool per MLB Pipeline is his speed, which grades out as a 65 on the 20-80 scouting scale, or just beyond above-average. His notable day on the basepaths pushed his season total to 26 steals, ranking him 11th in the Florida State League.
While the five-steal, zero-hit day is an anomaly at the big league level, it’s happened with a slightly higher frequency in the Minors. Breiny Ramírez did it earlier this year for the DSL Orioles Orange on June 13, and there have been six more occurrences dating back to 2005.