Turner completes never-before-seen stolen base feat

October 1st, 2023

It’s long been said that you can’t teach speed. Sometimes you can’t defend against it either.

Speed has become an even more important asset in MLB due to rule changes enacted before the 2023 season, including the addition of the pitch timer, limited disengagements by the pitcher and bigger bases -- all of which encourage more action on the basepaths. Those rule changes have led to an increase in stolen bases, with few players benefiting more than Phillies speedster Trea Turner.

Turner went 30-for-30 on steal attempts in 2023, setting a record for the most stolen bases in a season without being thrown out.

Turner is one of only six players all time to achieve a perfect season on the bases while stealing at least 20 bags. Here's a look at all six.

, Phillies
30-for-30 in 2023

One of the fastest players in the game, Turner has always been efficient on the bases, but he took it to another level in 2023, his first season after signing an 11-year, $300 million contract with Philadelphia in free agency. Turner struggled with the bat in the first half of the year, but he stole 19 bases before the All-Star break. He added 11 swipes during a spectacular second half to reach the 30-steal plateau for the sixth time in his career.

Chase Utley, Phillies
23-for-23 in 2009

While Utley wasn’t the fastest guy on the field, he was still a dynamic force on the basepaths: His 87.5% career stealing percentage is the best in baseball history among players who have stolen 100 bases. His best season as a runner came in 2009, when he swiped 23 bases without getting caught. Utley got more aggressive on the basepaths as the season went on (his only two multi-steal games came in July and September), and he cleared the 20-steal plateau thanks to a seven-steal September. Remarkably, none of his steals came on the first pitch.

“The times I steal are the times that I feel like I have a very good chance of being safe,” Utley told Baseball Prospectus in 2013. “I'll usually do my homework before the game from video, just to see if I pick up anything or guys that are quick, guys that are slow, guys that I can try to take a base on.”

Alcides Escobar, Royals
22-for-22 in 2013

Before Escobar was the 2015 ALCS MVP for a championship-winning Royals club, he etched his name in Royals history by having a perfect season on the basepaths. Escobar only had one multi-steal game in 2013 and did most of his damage at the beginning and end of the season, stealing six bases in both April and September/October. The highlight of his year came in September when he stole home against Cleveland in a wacky sequence where the ball changed hands six times.

Quintin Berry, Tigers
21-for-21 in 2012

After grinding out six years in the Minor Leagues, Berry finally got a chance to make an impact at the Major League level with the Tigers in 2012, when he was a perfect 21-for-21 on the basepaths in 94 games. After making his debut in mid-May, Berry started stealing bases at a torrid pace, recording three multi-steal games with the Tigers that season. He stole two bases without getting caught in the postseason for Detroit (which ended up losing in the World Series), and won a ring as a speed threat for the Red Sox in 2013. Berry finished his career 39-for-41 (95%) on stolen base attempts across the regular and postseason.

Kevin McReynolds, Mets
21-for-21 in 1988

McReynolds put together a career year in 1988, hitting .288 with 27 home runs, 99 RBIs (a career high) and 30 doubles to go along with a perfect year stealing bases. McReynolds got off to a scorching start. He hit .318 in April with just two steals before catching fire again in July, hitting .340 (tied for the second-best month of his career) with five steals (tied for the highest single-month steals tally of his career). The 1988 season marked the only 20-steal season of McReynolds’ career; he stole 15 bases in ’89 before finishing his career with five single-digit steal seasons.

Paul Molitor, Blue Jays
20-for-20 in 1994

The only Hall of Famer on this list, Molitor swiped 20 bases in 115 games in 1994 before the season was cut short due to the players’ strike. After only stealing 11 bases through the first three months of the year, he swiped seven in July and cleared the 20-steals plateau on Aug. 2 -- nine days before the season ended. In total, Molitor had 13 seasons in which he recorded 20 or more steals, finishing his career with 504 -- 24th most in the Modern Era (since 1900).